Addressing False Ecumenism 1.1: The Melkite Eparchy of Newton and the denial of Ecumenical Councils


After examining the website of the Diocese of Newton for Melkites in the USA, it has been brought to our attention here at HolySynergy that the Eparchy rejects the validity of the dogmatic ecumenical councils conveyed by the Church.

This would mean that the council of Trent, the council of Florence, the five Lateran councils, and Vatican 1 etc. (prior to Vatican 2) are all fallible councils in which have no authority upon the church, something similar held within the many orthodox churches who are also in the East, that being both the Oriental and Eastern churches.

https://melkite.org/faith/religious-education/melkite-challenge-2005-set-2#GRADES%207-12

Because of the extreme ecumenism that has not only taken over the Latin Church, but the Eastern Catholic Churches as well, it is explainable why this claim would be made. Since the Melkites like to use the phrase that they are “Orthodox in communion with Rome”, it is evident that this was done to please our unfortunate schismatic brethren that are not comfortable with the councils and its dogmatic definitions, in this case papal supremacy and infallibility.

With that being said, some Eastern Catholics unfortunately even conclude that Vatican 1 was a local council only for the Latin Church since the Bishop of Rome supposedly does not have authority over the entire church, something the church condemned. (Vatican 1, chapter 3.) There is no doubt that this is a schismatic and erroneous attitude. Not only is this attitude present upon the Melkite eparchy’s website, it’s also present among modern Melkite prelates in whom make similar claims. For instance:

“In any case, valid or not, Vatican I has the same designation as the Council of Lyons, a “general” synod of the West. With this designation it is neither ecumenical nor infallible and could produce only theological opinions that can not be imposed on anyone. Besides, these theological opinions are peculiar to the circumstances of a certain historical period. And the Catholic Church itself today, with all of its bishops and theologians, would have hesitated to adopt them and especially to erect them as dogmas. ” (Ecumenical Reflections, Elias Zoghby, Greek Melkite Catholic Archbishop, published by Eastern Christian Publications, 1998)

The Church has made it clear that the Ecumenical Councils of the Church must be accepted by all in order to be a faithful Christian, that being a member of the True Church. “we promulgate anew the definition of the ecumenical Council of Florence , which must be believed by all faithful Christians” (Vatican 1, Chapter 3.)
Frankly, these claims are against Church teaching since Peter was given the gift of infallibility in regards to proclaiming dogmatic definitions; something Vatican 1 has done when it proclaimed the dogma of papal infallibility.
According to Byzantine Seminary Press:

“St. Peter is referred to as the Prince of the Apostles and the Vicar of Christ on earth, the visible Head of the Church. His original name was Simon, but in view of his future role in the Church, our Divine Savior changed his name to Peter, which means rock.
The significance of this name change became evident only later when Jesus Christ, praising Peter’s faith, said: “You are Peter (the rock), and on this rock I will build my Church; and the gates (powers) of hell shall not prevail against it” (Mt.16:18).

On this same occasion, our Divine Savior promised Peter supreme authority in His Church, saying:

” I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you will bind on earth it shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you will loose on earth it shall be loosed in heaven” (Mt. 16:19).
This supreme authority given to Peter was extended also to matters of faith: “I prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may never fail (infallibility), and once you have recovered (after his denial) you, in turn, must strengthen your brothers” (Lk. 22:32).
After His glorious resurrection, Jesus formally conferred this supreme authority in the Church upon Peter, saying: “Feed my sheep! Feed my lambs!” (In. 21 :15-17).

Up to that time Jesus was The Shepherd of His flock, the Church, but from that time on, Peter and his successors are to tend Christ’s flock to assure that “there be only one Fold (Church) and Shepherd” (In. 10:14-16).

Thus, Peter became the indisputed head of the primitive Church.” (The Feast of Saint’s Peter and Paul According to the Byzantine Rite).
Since Peter is the earthly head of the church, and since he has made it known through his successor Pope Pius IX that Vatican 1 is to be accepted by all, there is no room for questioning his authority. To question the authority of Peter is to put oneself outside the church.

“Wherefore we teach and declare that, by divine ordinance, the Roman Church possesses a pre-eminence of ordinary power over every other Church, and that this jurisdictional power of the Roman Pontiff is both episcopal and immediate.

Both clergy and faithful, of whatever rite and dignity, both singly and collectively, are bound to submit to this power by the duty of hierarchical subordination and true obedience, and this not only in matters concerning faith and morals, but also in those which regard the discipline and government of the Church throughout the world.” (Vatican 1, chapter 3.)

Let us close with a quote from His Beatitude Maximos IV, patriarch of Antioch and all the all the east, of Alexandria, and Jerusalem:
“The primacy of Peter, the infallible primacy, is a great grace, a charism granted by God to His Church, not for the advantage of a few, nor of Catholics alone, but of all Christians, including Orthodox and Protestants.” (Ain-Traz, September 30, 1962.)

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Married clergy in the East

If you belong to the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church, you may find the idea of married priests strange. This is because the majority of priests within the Catholic Church belong to the Latin/Roman Catholic Church. 
 In the Eastern rites of the Catholic Church, it is commonly misunderstood that priests can get married. 

Just like in the Latin Church, priests are not allowed to become married. However, married men are allowed to be ordained to the priesthood. 

Therefore, it is typical to see married men in the seminary of the Eastern Rites piously preparing to become successors of the apostles and presbyters of God’s Holy Catholic Church.
Pope Benedict XIV piously stated in his encyclical ‘Allatae Sunt’ in 1755 the following:  

“Another example is the freedom enjoyed by priests of the Oriental and Greek church to remain married to their wives after their ordination (see can. Aliter, dist. 31 and chap. Cum olim, de Clericis Conjugatis). 

Considering that this practice was at variance neither with divine nor natural law, but only with Church discipline, the popes judged it right to tolerate this custom, which flourished among Greeks and Orientals, rather than to forbid it by their apostolic authority, to avoid giving them a pretext to abandon unity. So does Arcudius assess the matter.” (Concordia bk. 7, chap. 33)

Apologetics 1.3 : Latinization and the Eastern Catholic Churches 


What is Latinization, and why is it bad for Eastern Catholics?

Latinization is the practice of making Eastern Rite Catholic Churches more like the Roman Catholic Church by replacing Eastern Catholic customs and practices with Latin practices. A good example of this would be the replacement of Eastern Chants with Gregorian Chant, the replacement of Eastern Catholic vestments with Roman Catholic vestments, the replacement of icons with statues, the unfair banning of Eastern Catholic priests from public ministry because of their giving into marriage prior to their ordination (common in the early 1900’s within the USA), the replacement of Hyssop with the Latin Rite sprinkler for the Holy Water rites, etc.

 

Latinized Coptic Catholic Liturgy

While it is still very common, the abuse has died down within many Eastern Catholic Churches. The abuse of Latinization has come from Catholics ignorant of the Eastern Catholic Churches and their dignity. It was believed that they  were less Catholic because of their differences in practices from the Roman Church. This was especially present among missionaries of the Roman Church that went to evangelize North Africa, The Middle East, and East Europe.

“We gather from many other indications that Latin missionaries devote thought and care to destroying or at least weakening the Oriental rite in the course of converting Orientals from the error of schism to the unity of the Holy Catholic Religion; they induce Oriental Catholics to embrace the Latin rite…” (Pope Benedict XIV, Allatae Sunt, July 26, 1755.)

The missionaries have even come to the point where they demanded that those within the Eastern Rites must become Latin Rite in order to be completely Catholic. Therefore, Pope Leo XIII condemned this practice in his encyclical ‘Orientalium Dignitas’ by stating the following:

” Any Latin rite missionary, whether of the secular or religious clergy, who induces with his advice or assistance any Eastern rite faithful to transfer to the Latin rite, will be deposed and excluded from his benefice in addition to the ipso facto suspension a divinis and other punishments that he will incur as imposed in the aforesaid Constitution Demandatam. That this decree stand fixed and lasting We order a copy of it be posted openly in the churches of the Latin rite.”

However, the Popes have made it know that the Eastern rites aren’t less Catholic.

Pope Benedict XV asserted in the encyclical, Dei providentis, May 11, 1917: “The Church of Jesus Christ is neither Latin nor Greek nor Slav, but Catholic; accordingly she makes no difference between her children and Greeks, Latins, Slavs and members of all other nations are equal in the eyes of the Apostolic See.”

Pope Leo XIII in his Apostolic letter, Orientalium dignitas, published on November 30, 1894, declared:

“The maintenance in being of the Eastern rites is of more importance than might be imagined. The august antiquity, which lends dignity to these various rites is an adornment of the whole church and a witness to the divine unity of the Catholic faith. Perhaps nothing, in fact, better proves the note of Catholicity in the Church of God than the singular homage paid by these ceremonies which vary in form, which are celebrated in languages venerable by their antiquity, and which are still further hallowed by the use that has been made of them by the Apostles and Fathers of the Church.”


Pope Pius XII took a keen and abiding interest in the Ruthenian people. On May 21, 1939, at his direction, a solemn Triduum begun in Rome was concluded in the Vatican Basilica with services according to their own rite. This was in celebration of the 950th anniversary of the baptism of St. Vladimir, the great Ruthenian ruler.

“Each and every nation of Oriental rite must have its own rightful freedom in all that is bound up with its own history and its own genius and character, saving always the truth and integrity of the doctrine of Jesus Christ. … They will never be forced to abandon their own legitimate rites or to exchange their own venerable or traditional customs for Latin rites and customs. All these are to be held in equal esteem and honour, for they adorn the common Mother Church with a royal garment of many colors. Indeed this variety of rites and customs, preserving inviolate what is most ancient and most valuable in each, presents no obstacle to a true and genuine unity.” Orientalis ecclesiae— April 9,1944.

So what does the Church teach in regards to Latinization? Are there any consequences? Absolutely. As a matter of fact, the Church has condemned the mixing of rites as a whole.

Pope Benedict XIV: “Canon Law decrees that the Oriental and Greek rite should not be mixed with the Latin rite. See the entire Decretal of Celestine III in Gonzales, chap. Cum secundum: de temporibus Ordinationum; in the decretal of Innocent III, see chap. Quanto: de consuetudine; chap. Quoniam: de Officio Judic. Ordinar.; and the Decretal of Honorius III, chap. Literas: de celebrat. Missar.” – ALLATAE SUNT, July 26, 1755.


Therefore, regardless of what Sui Juris Church we belong to, we are all equally Catholic because of our unity of faith in Jesus Christ, His Church, and the teachings of the Holy Catholic Church.