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Thursday, December 16, 2010



Well, there's also the fact that a Catholic, at least an informed one like the commenter, who left the Church to become Orthodox would be committing, both materially and formally, the grave sin of schism. There's also the fact that Orthodoxy isn't exactly the best place in the world. Orthodox teaching on pertinent moral issues is often murky and even lax (see patriarchal statements on divorce and contraception).

Furthermore, while the eastern churches have lots of pretty stuff, it's not because they've developed in a beautiful and organic manner. It's simply because they don't change anything, and I exaggerate only slightly. The Russians made minor modifications to the Divine Liturgy and the calendar in the 16th century, and it sparked a popular revolt that simmered for a century and eventually resulted in the more or less extermination of whole swathes of the peasantry. Their problems in that regard are tied to their lack of unity with Rome: over the centuries they've become ossified, and are often soundly subordinated to the political and cultural identities of their respective nations. These problems were noted by a prolific Russian Orthodox theologian of the 19th-20th centuries, whose name conveniently escapes me at the moment, who strongly advocated reunification with the papacy. (Help me out here, Carl.)

Eastern Christianity is beautiful, and it's an important part of Christendom. I wish the reunion of the separated Orthodox to hasten with all speed. We in the West think we've been put upon by revolutions and the media. We don't know anything about the misfortune and hardship; that's what the eastern communities have suffered under Turks and Communists. But the fact of the matter is that, especially for a westerner, raised with western sensibilities and steeped in western philosophical, theological, and aesthetic traditions, the east cannot be a refuge. Not only would one be out of place there, but the grass is not that much greener. Besides, schism is a sin.

Carl E. Olson

Titus: That would be The Russian Church and the Papacy, by Vladimir Soloviev (1853-1900), published by Catholic Answers in 2001. Fascinating book by a fascinating thinker.


I too noted Justin's comment and agreed with him on some level, but I would not leave the sheltering eves of the church where the successor of Peter sits. Full stop.


It would be great to be Orthodox; I could be remarried three times, I could practise contraception and I could even have an abortion as long as I paid lip service to custom.

Bruce C. Meyer

I've often been attracted to becoming RCatholic. But I was in a protestant church once that bore bad fruit, and after the movement of our church was all over, I saw that I should have paid more attention to Christ's words to not be taken in by sweet sounding words, but to see the outcome of the teaching. I.e., that terrible list you mentiion. I could see them all.
Taking my own argument a step further, I thought that this would mean that I could not be a member of any congregation or faith tradition more than five years old. So I'm not going anywhere for the moment, and trying to avail myself of the means of grace before me. If the Holy Spirit should so guide, I'd consider stepping from one brood of vipers to another one (so to speak), but not because anyone anywhere is particularly all that attractive.
Oh, and John Paul the Great is one of my personal heroes. But a great man does not make for a holy church.



The temptation of Donatism is always a great temptation, a temptation that one must fight. If there was a hypothetical "pure" Church somewhere, neither you or I would be welcome in it, struggling sinners that we are. A local priest would be a good person to talk about your struggles with--they are a common spiritual malady and show that you take your faith seriously. A priest would welcome talking with someone like you, who really wants to spend time with saints and to become sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

It took myself a long time to learn it, but it is true: The Church is a hospital for wounded sinners, not a mountain chalet resort for saints. And when I look at my own life, I realize I need to be in the intensive care section of that hospital, because my sins run deep. I need a whole battery of serious operations :-)

For reference:

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