Full Text for American Religious Scene- Volume 5 - Eastern Rite Catholics and Separated Eastern Churches (Video)

No. 5. >> Dr. Manteufel, I'm your student from Cleveland, David. Unlike Josh we have many people with Orthodox background in our neighborhoods. Here is a question that I have: If I identified the Separated Eastern Churches and the Eastern Rite Catholics as the same group, would I be correct? Or would such an assertion be an insult to both groups? >>DR. THOMAS E. MANTEUFEL: The Separated Eastern Churches and the Eastern Rite Catholics may have labels that sound very much the same. But they are quite different. The first group is composed of bodies which are similar in most teachings and practices to the Orthodox churches, which are in communion with the ecumenical patriarch or the patriarch of Constantinople, the leading bishop of Orthodoxy. But these latter Orthodox churches, which we might call the Main Line Orthodox churches, do not recognize these Separated Churches as legitimate churches. And this situation illustrates an ecclesiastical principle of Eastern Orthodox which is important to notice and be aware of. That is to say a religious body is a true church and a continuation of the visible church organization which Christ founded only if it meets two criteria. First, Orthodox teaching, correct doctrine. And two, communion with a bishop of the apostolic succession. Now, the apostolic succession is the succession of bishops in an unbroken line of consecrations going all the way back to the apostles. Roman Catholicism and the Protestant bodies fail to meet one or both of these criteria. And are not -- according to Orthodoxy, and also Roman Catholicism, they are not strictly speaking churches. And so the Separated Churches, quote-unqoute, which have members also in America, by the way, are not considered true churches by the Main Line Orthodox bodies. That is to say those that are in communion with the ecumenical patriarch. The worldwide patriarch of Orthodoxy. The Separated Churches include a body which adheres to a Nestorianism and therefore it's doctrinal position and its bishops are unacceptable to main line Orthodoxy. And this is the church of the east and of the Assyrians. Now, in Nestorianism, which is a heresy that was rejected by one of the ecumenical church councils, that is to say the Council of Ephesus, denies that the two natures of Christ share each other's attributes so that for example, human nature was not omnipotent to perform miracles like changing water into wine and that was only his divine power that was being used here. Nestorius who started all of this did teach that Christ was both God and man. But he denied that these two natures of Christ actually fully shared their qualities or their properties and attributes with each other. And so quite rightly the Orthodox and the Council of Ephesus viewed this as not really taking the personal union of natures in Christ seriously. Not taking it with all of its implications. And so they are regarded as not meeting the criteria -- the criterion -- of correct teaching. And therefore, their bishops, also, are not in communion or fellowship with the bishops of Orthodoxy. Fellowship is denied to them because of that doctrinal problem. Then there are other Separated Churches which hold to monophysitism, which is another heresy. And was condemned, again, rightly by the Council of Chalcedon in the year 451. That is the false doctrine that our Lord had only one nature rather than the two natures, divine and human, which are indicated in Scripture. In that he was true God and also true man. And they say that one of these natures has disappeared or been swallowed up in the other nature. And so they are not recognized. Examples of these churches would be the Coptic Orthodox Church and the Armenian church. And there are representatives of these churches also in America. Still other Separated Churches are not recognized by the Main Line Orthodox because the bishops that organized them are not regarded as being properly connected with the Apostolic Succession. And these include the Christ Catholic Church of the Americas and Europe, the American Catholic Church, ***Cyro Antiochian and the African Orthodox Church. The Eastern Rite Catholics, on the other hand, are bodies which were formerly Eastern Orthodox but have done something which none of the Separated Eastern Churches have done. They have accepted the claim of the Pope to be head of the church by divine right. And they are now part of his church. I mentioned before that Orthodoxy does not accept the special claims of the Pope to be head of the church and to be able to speak infallibly simply as an individual bishop by himself and the like. But these are Orthodox bodies which have agreed to these claims. And so they then submit to the Pope as head of the church and are part of Roman Catholicism. They teach the Orthodox teaching or let's say they teach the teaching which Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism hold in common. And of course then they would be insulted if they would be confused with those Separated Eastern Churches that I was referring to earlier. The Separated Churches, especially the ones that are teaching false doctrine, either in Nestorianism or monophysitism would certainly not be considered acceptable to these Eastern Rite Catholics. But they are called the Eastern Rite Catholics because they have been allowed to retain some Orthodox liturgical rites and customs. Which are different sometimes from the Roman Catholic way of doing things. This includes, also, having married clergy, which runs counter to the Roman Catholic law of celibacy for priests. They are granted a dispensation from that. Examples of these Eastern Rite Catholics, they are also found in America are the Armenian Catholics and the Ruthenian Catholics.