Tuesday, March 9, 2010

I didn't know that

I must be a bit thick. I have thought of the "Roman Catholic church" as a single, monolithic church (though understanding but not clear about how the 'eastern' and 'western' parts of the church relate together). But apparently it is not so, as Bishop Peter Elliott, Auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne writes:

"These autonomous [Eastern rite] Churches are in communion with Rome, but their members are not “Roman Catholics”, that is, not Catholics of the Roman Rite. I now need to open up something essential that many Anglicans do not understand – that the Catholic Church is not a monolithic structure. She is a communion of Churches, led by bishops who are in communion with the Bishop of Rome and with one another, members of one apostolic college. This unity through a communion of particular or local Churches is set out in the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church promulgated by the Second Vatican Council. Lumen Gentium, 23.

"Every diocese is a “particular Church”, governed by a successor of the apostles. This is why we talk of the Church of Rome, the Church of Melbourne, the Church of Washington etc. Through a complex history beginning in apostolic times, most of these particular Churches today are grouped together within the Roman Rite. Not only are they in communion with the Church of Rome, the See of Peter, but they also use the liturgy of Rome. The members of these particular Churches may be known as Roman Catholics, or Catholics of the Roman Rite, or Latin Catholics."

I think to be fair to myself, when living in a country such as NZ and reading Catholic news articles which talk about the Pope appointing X as the next bishop of Diocese Y, I might be forgiven for my monolithic view of 'the Roman Catholic church'. Nevertheless I had mistakenly thought that 'the diocesan bishop' was in charge of his diocesan territory. But reading further in Bishop Peter Elliott's paper I find:

"Looking more closely into these Eastern Catholic Churches, we first find typical territorial dioceses in the home country: Ukraine, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, India, Iraq etc. But then we find a second kind of diocese for those members of these Churches who have emigrated and are now scattered across a country such as Canada or Australia. This kind of diocese is usually, not always, called an eparchy.

"In an eparchy an Eastern Rite bishop has jurisdiction over all the clergy and lay faithful of his Rite, within a country or within a region in a big country such as Canada. For example, the Ukrainian Catholic bishop with a fine cathedral in North Melbourne is the bishop of the Eparchy of St Peter and Paul, Australia. He has ordinary jurisdiction over all Ukrainian Catholics in Australia. His people are also known as “Greek Catholics” because they celebrate the liturgy of Constantinople, the Byzantine Rite.

"The same kind of structure also applies to the Maronite diocese of St Maroun, the Chaldean Diocese of St Thomas and the Eparchy of St Michael the Archangel for Melchite Greek Catholics, all based in Sydney. The territory of these bishops coexists with the dioceses of the Roman Rite in Australia and the bishops are members of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference."

This paper is reproduced on Damian Thompson's blog.

Now the ultimate sign of my general lack of intelligence on these matters is that I am now wondering why we Anglicans cannot be that smart - ACNA as an eparchy in North America? Why not! And if TEC want to form an eparchy in the UK? Why not!

We could all be in communion with Canterbury, and our bishops could meet together in conference.

OK. I know. Some of those bishops just will not make the necessary compromises.


Kurt said...

Okay, Peter, in principle I can agree with you; such an arrangement is a theoretical possibility. (The TEC could be the American Rite Anglicans, and the ACNA the 1662 Rite Anglicans, or whatever.) However, ACNA has not given up its goal of replacing The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada as the “official” Anglican group in North America. Unless ACNA recognizes TEC and ACofC as legitimate members of the Anglican Communion, and extends full Table Fellowship to them, such an arrangement cannot be contemplated.

Parallel organizing under different Rites might also be of help in other areas. For example, the Diocese of Sydney has as many as two dozen parishes which refuse to accept the Jensenite “party line” to a greater or lesser degree, which amounts to approximately 10% of the Sydney diocese. In terms of communicants, the figure is probably greater than that, since two of these parishes (St. James King Street and Christ Church St. Laurence) are also among the diocese’s largest and fastest growing parishes. Such parishes would likely feel more at home under the wings of a more liberal province such as TEC or ACofC. Would they want to adopt an American Rite, however, in order to be free of “The Family Business”?

Kurt Hill
In spring-like Brooklyn, NY
(It was 60 degrees F--15.5 C yesterday!)

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Kurt
I like the thought of the organising being around rites ... that is, a common prayer book being used within each eparchy or diocese.

I also accept that ACNA would need to give up its stated goal of replacing TEC and ACCan!

That is cold ... almost the opposite of a late summer Down Under!

Kurt said...

“That is cold ... almost the opposite of a late summer Down Under!”--Peter C.

You call 60 degrees F “cold”!? In NYC in the winter it gets to 18 F (-7 C). In Chautauqua County, where I grew up, -18 F (-27 C) was not unheard of.

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

Howard Pilgrim said...

Yeah, you win the cold competition, Kurt ... unless we include Sydney's likely response to your idea about their dissident parishes!

Maybe this mutual recognition issue could be measured and managed with a temperature scale, rather than in binary on/off terms? You know, maybe Sydney fellowship with Nelson is 40C but 10C with ACNZAP as a whole, 50C with Nigeria, and Minus 40C with TEC. That sort of thing, with no-one completely unrecognized.

Anonymous said...

Many are cold but few are frozen.

Actually it is the Almighty's judgment on New York politricks.

Doug Chaplin said...

I started to comment but it got so long I posted over at mine instead!!

John Sandeman said...

As a Sydneysider (who holds no office in the diocese) I would have thought that Sydney would be very interested in having its dissident parishes come under a different grouping, provided parishes from other dioceses could join Sydney, which would also be free to church plant

Anonymous said...

Howard raises an interesting idea. I like the idea of warm fellowship with the Church of Nigeria, who are experiencing enormous pressures and many martyrdoms as Islamists attempt to destroy them, as Archbishops Kwashi and Idowu-Fearon have reported.
These prayerful martyrs have much to teach the West.

Kurt said...

“Many are cold but few are frozen. Actually it is the Almighty's judgment on New York politricks.”--Anonymous

And, therefore, bush fires are the Almighty’s judgment on Sydney...?

Kurt Hill
In spring-like Brooklyn, NY

Peter Carrell said...

Thanks All for some witty, warm and erudite comments!

Kurt: I got my F and C mixed up - New York is warm these days!

John: you know ideas like that will cause apoplexy somewhere in the Communion!

Anonymous said...

Kurt - ah, spring is sprung, the grass is riz - but what are they singing in NY-29?

"Massa's in the cold, cold ground!"

Politricks, I tells ya!

You don't get bush fires in urban Sydney; they start beyond the revisionist Diocese of Black Stump. The false teaching really began with the Philosophy Department of the University of Wollomoloo.

Outis, Ithaca NY

Kurt said...

What's new in The Sticks, Outis?

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

Peter Carrell said...

OK! Back to topic with any further comments, please!