A new Doctor of the Church, you say? Innnnteresting…

gregory of narek[Heads up, sports fans: This afternoon I brought this post up at One Peter Five to generate a little more discussion. Go have a look.]

Gregory of Narek (ca. 950-1005), a revered Father of the Armenian Orthodox Church (AOC), is now officially a Doctor of the Universal Church.

The AOC, the body to which Gregory belonged, has formally and persistently rejected the authority of the Council of Chalcedon, was not in communion with Rome during Gregory’s life, and highly venerates Gregory, who was (as Ann Barnhardt strongly emphasizes) a miaphysite. “The main difference,” notes the just cited AOC website, “between the Byzantine tradition, also known as Chalcedonian churches and the Armenian Church, (together with other non-Chalcedonian churches) has been on the issue of Christology, i.e., the dogma related to Christ’s Divine and Human natures.” As Abp. A. Keshishian explains:

“[T]he Christology of the Armenian Church is fundamentally in line with the Alexandrian Theological School. In fact, the Cyrillian formula of ‘One Nature of the Incarnate Word’ consititutes the foundation stone of her Christology. [It should be noted that] first, ‘One Nature’ is never interpreted in the Armenian Christology as a numerical one, but always a united one. This point is of crucial importance [for the Armenian Church] particularly in its anti-Eutychian and anti-Chalcedonian aspects. Second the term ‘nature’ (ousia, in Armeian bnut’iun) is used in Armenian theological literature in three different senses: (a) as essence, an abstract notion, (b) as substance, a concrete reality, (c) as person. In the context of anti-Chalcedonian Christology ‘one nature’ is used in a sense of ‘one person’ composed of two natures”.

So, a saint venerated in a fellowship that has for centuries rejected Chalcedon–a council universally binding on the Catholic Church–is considered a Doctor of the Catholic Church. Are there any other councils that one might reject while still enjoying exemplary ecclesial status–say, Trent or Vatican II?

Does this elevation not also canonize Gregory? How could it not? If he is but a provincially revered saint in an ancient but schismatic Christian communion, how can he be considered a universal Doctor? Are there any other Doctors of the Church who are not also celebrated in her liturgy as saints?* Are there any other Doctors who belonged to schismatic bodies? 

I’m being provocative, I admit, but only because this raises a host of fascinating and important issues about ecclesial communion, papal authority, and truth, among other things. In order to get a better sense of the issues, I’ll be reading up on the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches. Here are some other helpful joint statements from the Catholic and Oriental Orthodox Churches.

Meanwhile, what do you think, especially you Eastern Catholics and Eastern Orthodox folks out there?

Am I the only one who thinks this cause, which had been underway for some time, was executed with such celerity in order to throw a grim but timely light on one of Pope Francis’s favorite themes, “the ecumenism of blood”? As he most recently put it: “Be they Catholic, Orthodox, Copts, Lutherans, it doesn’t matter: They’re Christian! The blood is the same: It is the blood which confesses Christ”.

* [I’ve since learned that Gregory is in fact in the Church’s most recent martyrology, but not in the earlier edition, and is mentioned as a saint in the CCC, so this just confirms my instinct to see something beautiful here, regardless of how it might be spun for this or that ideological fetish. {Further research leaves me uncertain once more. Did Rome recognize Gregory of Narek’s sanctity as recently and suddenly as 2001/2005? What’s going on here?}]

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About The Codgitator (a cadgertator)

Catholic convert. Quasi-Zorbatic. Freelance interpreter, translator, and web marketer. Former ESL teacher in Taiwan (2003-2012) and former public high school teacher (2012-2014). Married father of three. Multilingual, would-be scholar, and fairly consistent fitness monkey. My research interests include: the interface of religion and science, the history and philosophy of science and technology, ancient and medieval philosophy, and cognitive neuroscience. Please pray for me.
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96 Responses to A new Doctor of the Church, you say? Innnnteresting…

  1. I don’t think there’s any mystery here; Gregory of Narek has always been recognized as a saint by the Armenian Catholic Church, and the latter hasn’t exactly made a secret of it. If Rome wanted to protest, it’s had since the eighteenth century to do so. I also don’t think it’s particularly surprising that Francis would confirm it; the Eparchy of the Armenian Catholic Church in Buenos Aires is named the Eparchy of St. Gregory of Narek, and Bishop Bergoglio’s relations with the Armenian Catholics in his diocese were famously very good — it was one of the things reported on when he first became Pope.

  2. I think it’s a beautiful thing, I’ve just learned to pay much more attention to the “timing” of things under such a, let us say, personal pope.

    CCC 2678 – “Medieval piety in the West developed the prayer of the rosary as a popular substitute for the Liturgy of the Hours. In the East, the litany called the Akathistos and the Paraclesis remained closer to the choral office in the Byzantine churches, while the Armenian, Coptic, and Syriac traditions preferred popular hymns and songs to the Mother of God. But in the Ave Maria, the theotokia, the hymns of St. Ephrem or St. Gregory of Narek, the tradition of prayer is basically the same.”

  3. More relevant than the CCC, though, would be the entry in the Roman Martyrology, since anyone in the Martyrology is already recognized liturgically as a saint by Rome — being listed as a saint in the Martyrology means someone can be commemorated liturgically as a saint, even if he doesn’t have a date on the universal calendar.

    As usual, I don’t what you mean when you start speaking in code about Pope Francis, so I will just assume that I misunderstood the point of your original post and that you were not, as I thought, asking why someone not celebrated in the liturgy as a Catholic saint would be named Doctor of the Church, so there was actually no need for me to point out that he is, in fact, liturgically celebrated as a Catholic saint, and has been for quite a long time.

  4. Brandon:

    I was posting this to learn more, a thing of which I’m fond, including the fact of his inclusion in the martyrology, which I learned of shortly after reading your first comment.

    [ADDED LATER: Could you please elaborate on Gregory’s veneration in the Catholic Church (i.e. in churches in union with Rome) “for quite a long time”? I don’t have a copy of it myself and I’m still hunting his entry down online. The Armenians have rejected Chalcedon and union with Rome for centuries now. I’m confused. How do such things render Gregory a saint? Bergoglio was friendly with the Armenians, but so what? He was friendly with Jews, Muslims, Masons, socialists and gay activists, so it’s hard to know how to grade all that goodwill.]

    As for my code-speak, I do believe this decision was timed in connection with the recent deaths of the Copts. I find the idea of an “ecumenism of blood” as far as the strict term “martyr” goes to be a bit confused.

  5. …celerity… A word too little used

  6. BAC: “…celerity… A word too little used”

    Yet an adverbial too often evident, especially in certain matters ecclesial.

  7. Branch says:

    What’s beautiful about this?

  8. Branch:

    I have a soft spot for East-West reunion. The canonical issues are tricky, the theological issues even more complex, and AFAIK Gregory never espoused anything heretical.

  9. Branch:

    IOW, I just want something good and stable to be able to hold onto for a change. I’m having trouble nailing down exactly where Gregory was in the Martyrology prior to 2005, though. Whatever this issue is, it’s bigger than Francis. All V2, I guess.

  10. I find no reference to Gregory in the Martyrology issued under Benedict XIV in 1749 (?), though I do see his entry in the more modern edition on February 27.* What changed?

    • “6*. Au monastère de Narets en Arménie, vers 1005, saint Grégoire, moine, docteur des Arméniens, illustre par sa doctrine, ses écrits et sa connaissance mystique.”
  11. Okay, in a digitized online edition of the 1749 Martyrology (Index, p. 15), I did find a reference to “Gregorius Episcopus Magnae Armeniae” (aka “Gregory the Illuminator“) for September 30, but no mention of Gregory of Narek.

    Brandon, you mentioned that the Church has had “since the eighteenth century to [protest]” the veneration of Gregory of Narek, but I’m still confused as to where this veneration occurred except among the Armenian schismatics.

  12. Tamsin says:

    I’m with Ann on this one.

  13. Branch says:

    But Christ having one nature instead of two (though the one nature is still of both a divine and human character somehow) seems to be a very big deal. I don’t know if it’s heresy, but I also don’t understand how with that confusion seemingly in place, we’re to look to the saint as a Doctor.

  14. This reminds me of an insight I had a few months ago: Pope Francis (and Vatican II in general) finally lets Roman Catholics know how the Eastern Orthodox (and Eastern Catholics) have felt about Rome for a very long time.

    How much do I have to bend on this? Is declaring someone a Doctor Ecclesiae not ipso facto canonizing him, and is not canonization infallible? But how could one enshrine the heretical commitments of someone as a sure norm for the WHOLE CHURCH?

  15. It’s really a tough nut. The Miaphysites vigorously reject Nestorianism and all monophysitism and a chief Armenian theologian made clear that “the divine and human natures exist without confusion“.

    Like I said, I want to read up on the Joint Commission on all these subtleties before getting too wound up. This is akin to the filioque controversy: nuances across languages make huge differences and at the end of the day both parties seem substantially to believe the same thing.

  16. Tamsin:

    Yeah, I know what you mean. I’m really trying here.

  17. AmoPapam says:

    That Jorge, he is just cray cray. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ie5-LrulBGk

  18. Pingback: Christian reunion is hard-or is it? - OnePeterFive

  19. Tony Jokin says:

    I found the whole thing confusing. I cannot speak for the theological nuances. But what I can speak of is how it looks from the perspective of an average (or below average) Catholic like me.

    If this person who belonged to a heretical sect is canonized, then I don’t see why it matters whether one is a Protestant or Jew. And why stop at ecumenism of blood? Why not point out that all blood is simply blood and therefore even Jews and Muslims or even Atheists are martyrs? Maybe Ghandhi, Luther King etc are all to be entered into the Church martyrology?

    Second, what exactly is the basis for declaring someone a doctor when they are from a group that was contaminated with heresy? Did Pope Francis had a commission study his writings to make sure it is free from error? Otherwise, is it even right to exalt him in that way for the whole Church to study and learn from?

    Regardless of whatever complex theological or philosophical explanation there may be for this, the issue is that such a complex point was never explained. We are suppossed to swallow this giving of a doctor title to a person from a sect contaminated heresy as if it was what we used to all the time.

  20. Theodore The Studite says:

    An average Catholic unfortunately does not understand that the Catholic Church is not ONLY Roman, that the Eastern Churches are equal in dignity, have a sanctioned Canon Law and Heirarchy which is not Roman but in equal authority with the Bishops in the West. The Francis phenomena to the East is simply another moment in history where lots of people don’t understand what they really didn’t understand about the Papacy in the first place. That is, that Church is not all Western and European, and that Tribalism is alive and roaring like a Lion looking for someone to devour. Sorry that Ann is in that club.

  21. Tony Jokin says:

    Theodore,

    The issue I see is with recommending a writer who belonged to a Church that held heretical ideas. Now lets forget that we are talking about Religion for a second. Let us assume that this was a different subject altogether. Any person with common sense would tell you that then you do not uphold a person from a school of thought known to hold various errors as someone to be studied and learned from.

    What I am saying here has nothing to do with tribalism or some roman imperialism. It is just common sense. Only way I can accept what you say as an explanation is if the heresy that plagues the Church that this person belonged to was actually not a heresy. Otherwise, common sense indicates that there is good reason to find this hard to understand.

  22. What must we accept and what must we reject as part of effete ecumenism with the schismatic heretics of the east ?

    Ditch the filioque? Don’t think so. That was added to combat another seed in what is the seedbed of heresy and iconoclasm

    http://credo.stormloader.com/Ecumenic/filioque.htm

  23. http://www.waragainstbeing.com/partiii

    Ok, done hijacking but these ecumenical efforts seem as rapid and reckless as the fast and furious movies

  24. Mr.Larson thinks a reunion that accepts an uncorrected and gnostic suffused faith will lead to the Antichrist.

    http://www.christianorder.com/features/features_2007/features_apr07.html

    Poor old BAC is not intelligent enough to wade in the depths that BC is qualified to wade in but he is smart enough to nearly always follow Brother Codg

  25. Branch says:

    I’m with Mr. Larson.

  26. Branch, if you drop in on he One Peter Five thread, you’ll see I’m getting much feistier. Reeeeealllly trying to sentire cum Ecclesiae here, but, come on, guys, really?

  27. Branch says:

    Fair enough. And I’m not trying to pick on you. I just don’t see the beauty at all in this, at least right now. To me, it is just one more point of confusion. I stopped and took seriously for a time the two elevations that BXVI made because of obedience, if you will, but I just cannot understand this. Things have gotten so confusing that everything now seems to be in question. Canonizations infallible? I always thought so, but…

  28. Oh, I know you’re not picking on me, and I really feel the confusion in all this. This is what I mean by “feisty”: http://www.onepeterfive.com/christian-reunion-is-hard-or-is-it/#comment-1876850251

  29. Pingback: A fairly balanced assessment of the new Doctor of the Church | A Blog for Dallas Area Catholics

  30. Elliott,

    There is an entire sui juris branch of the Catholic Church that is Armenian: the Armenian Catholic Church. They are Eastern Catholics. They are as Catholic as you are. Their liturgical calendar is a recognized liturgical calendar of the Catholic Church. Their churches, many of whom are named after Gregory of Narek, are as Catholic as any church you go to, and the dedication of those churches to saints is as liturgical as the dedication of any church in any other part of the Catholic Church. Bergoglio’s good relations were with the Armenian Catholic Church, fellow Catholics.

    The Roman Martyrology functions for the West much like the calendars of the Eastern churches do: it is not in itself the highest level of canonical recognition (the universal calendar), but it is a genuine level of canonical recognition, and integral to the liturgical commemoration of the saints. Gregory of Narek has been recognized liturgically as a saint in the Catholic Church since the eighteenth century when the Armenian Catholic Church was integrated through the authority and auspices of Rome itself. Pope Benedict the Fourteenth was, I assure you, completely untainted by any trace of post-Vatican II shenanigans. In addition, the Roman Martyrology shows that he has been recognized liturgically by yet another sui juris church, the Roman, since before Francis’s pontificate.

  31. Tony,
    The issue I see is with recommending a writer who belonged to a Church that held heretical ideas.

    So I take it that you would also criticize the fact that St. Isaac of Nineveh is on the Catholic calendar of saints?

  32. Blogmaster says:

    Christological nuances aside, isn’t communion with Rome supposed to be kind of important? Gregory of Narek adhered to a formal schism based on the rejection of dogma – not some in-house dispute over canonical status.

  33. I find the idea of an “ecumenism of blood” as far as the strict term “martyr” goes to be a bit confused.

    Perhaps. I’m not sure what the implications of this would be. Would it commit us to saying, for instance, that St. Hippolytus of Rome was not a martyr?

  34. Tony Jokin says:

    Brandon,

    You said: “So I take it that you would also criticize the fact that St. Isaac of Nineveh is on the Catholic calendar of saints?”

    I am not sure gave consideration to everything I wrote in that comment.

    If I, for an example, recommend (to interested students) a physics text book written by an author who belongs to a well known school of thought that is known to err on specific topics on physics, I would be acting rashly. I would at least have to make sure that nothing in their writing contains the error and at least explain that fact to the faithful.

    Otherwise, I risk them learning the errors or simply thinking of my action as an approval of that erroneous school of thought. Worse, they may be lead to think that it does not even matter which school of thought one adopts.

    So similarly, I think it is quiet reasonable to require the same standard in matters of religion as well.

    As for St. Isaac of Nineveh, he seems to have being consecrated by Nestorians, the Catholic Encyclopedia says the following about his writings:-

    “He was author of three theses, which found but little acceptance amongst Nestorians. Daniel Bar Tubanita, Bishop of Beth Garmai (some 100 miles south-east of Mossul), took umbrage at his teaching and became his ardent opponent. The precise contents of these theses are not known, but they were of too Catholic a character to be compatible with Nestorian heresy.”

    So at least it seems that Catholics understood his writings and his own beliefs to be Catholic rather than Nestorian.

    If one can also demonstrate the same about Gregory of Narek, and make the clarification, the decision is indeed beyond criticism. BUT, as it stands, we are suppossed to accept Gregory of Narek as a Doctor of the Church. One would expect, as with my example, for Catholics to either potentially end up in error (if there is indeed error in his works), take it as a recommendation that the heretical ideas are also right, or worse, become indifferent on doctrinal issues.

  35. Tony Jokin says:

    Brandon,

    This in regards to your comment about St. Hippolytus of Rome

    You said: “Perhaps. I’m not sure what the implications of this would be. Would it commit us to saying, for instance, that St. Hippolytus of Rome was not a martyr?”

    According to Dr. Warren Carroll the late Catholic historian (The Founding of Christendom, Vol. 1), St. Hippolytus was reconciled to the Church by Pope Pontian while serving together with him in the labor camp (during the time of Christian persecution). St. Hippolytus then sent word to his followers to reconcile with the new Pope that had been elected (Pope Pontian had already resigned his position [or perhaps many thought he had already died] believing that he will not make it out of the labor camp alive).

    Dr. Carroll also mentions that Pope Callistus (in whose time St. Hippolytus set himself up as anti-Pope) never officially condemned St. Hippolytus because he always saw him as someone who was sincerely being mislead and would come around.

    Anyway I am not sure St. Hippolytus of Rome is a good example to make your case.

  36. Tony,

    There is in fact no evidence with regard to Hippolytus’ reconciliation with the Pope; it’s entirely possible, but any suggestions of it are late and may well have arisen due to his being canonized rather than vice versa. Nor is lack of condemnation relevant since there is no question he was a schismatic (nor are we dealing with people specifically condemned in general). However, you are simply mistaken in thinking I am “making a case”; I asked a question.

    Your response with regard to Isaac of Nineveh is inconsistent with your previous response on Gregory of Narek, and would require you to identify precisely where in Gregory of Narek’s writings he advocates a heretical Christology. Catholics have not seen Gregory’s writings as heretical; he is venerated by Armenian Catholics (and given the history of the Armenian Catholic Church it is extremely doubtful that this could be done without the acceptance of Rome) and he is in the Roman Martyrology, which means that he is currently venerated by Roman Catholics, as well. And neither you nor anyone else has the authority to treat someone venerated by the Catholic Church as a heretic on the basis of guesswork.

  37. OK, then when will the Church restore Pope Saint Liberius to the Martyrology and declare him a Doctor?

  38. OK, then when will the Church restore Pope Saint Liberius to the Martyrology and declare him a Doctor?

    I have no idea what this question is supposed to be asking. Who is making the argument that St. Liberius’s scattered surviving writings are themselves of sufficient theological significance to be recommended as instruction for the whole Church? (Setting aside the fact that he is arguably a confessor, and therefore even if he were on the universal calendar might not be eligible for the relevant Mass, anyway.) What is the relevance of his not being on the Roman Martyrology but only in Byzantine Catholic calendars? His being in the Martyrology would not, in itself, bring him any closer to being a Doctor of the Church. Are you just expressing something you want in general — and if so, then why wouldn’t you be petitioning the relevant authorities rather than asking random people on the Internet? Or are you trying to make a point without actually stating it — in which case, you’ll have to be more explicit, because I don’t see it?

  39. Theodore The Studite says:

    Are only the “Doctor’s” which Francis chooses to carry the title “Doctor” to be impeccable? Are only Aquinas, Chrysostom, and others allowed to have skeletons in their Theological closet?

    A Doctor is not required to “Theologically Pure” in every area, but for one or more…that those specific teachings which he adds to the Church’s theological treasury will bevaluable “in any age of the Church.”

    If we require impeccability of St. Gregory Narek, that then indeed would be a turn from “Tradition”. No?

  40. BAC went to your blog and read your excellent essay about our new Doctor, but you have to lighten-up a bit.

    Brother Codg knows who BAC is and B.C. knows this write-backer sometimes tends to the oblique and provocative response posts without being guilty trolling.

    Rare is the Catholic who knows that Pope Saint Liberius was, for over 1000 years, considered a Saint and the referent to Doctor of the Church in this instance was aught but a failed rhetorical gambit intended to reflect our new age of papal positivism; that is, no matter what a Pope says it (no matter what the “it” is) then is must be so objectively

    It is clear that Dr addendum tongue-in-cheek attempt failed.

    O, and the post ought to have been directed to Brother Codg (B.C.)

    C’est la vie

  41. I find the idea of an “ecumenism of blood” as far as the strict term “martyr” goes to be a bit confused.

    Perhaps. I’m not sure what the implications of this would be. Would it commit us to saying, for instance, that St. Hippolytus of Rome was not a martyr?

    There is nothing wrong with asking respectful questions and there are some Catholics who have made interesting observation re this putative ecumenism of blood.

    O, and in a not unusual instance ,nobody is really sure what the Pope meant by ecumenism of the blood

    http://thejosias.com/2015/02/18/dubium-can-non-catholics-be-martyrs/

  42. I’ve read it; it doesn’t really address this sort of question, as others like Fr. Hunwicke and Gabriel Sanchez have noted.

    If nobody knows what the meaning of ‘ecumenism of blood’ was, then it wouldn’t make much sense to regard the meaning as confused. The pope seems to explain himself quite clearly on this particular matter, though, so I’m not sure what the puzzles would be, or what his critics actually regard themselves as rejecting, or what they are suggesting in its place, or the implications of it; it’s the critics this time around who seem not to be clear about what they mean.

  43. Tony Jokin says:

    Brandon,

    You said: “There is in fact no evidence with regard to Hippolytus’ reconciliation with the Pope; it’s entirely possible, but any suggestions of it are late and may well have arisen due to his being canonized rather than vice versa. Nor is lack of condemnation relevant since there is no question he was a schismatic (nor are we dealing with people specifically condemned in general). However, you are simply mistaken in thinking I am “making a case”; I asked a question.”

    First, it is in anticipation that you might raise such a charge that I turned to Dr. Warren Carroll, a historian, rather than quote something out of the Catholic Encyclopedia. What Dr. Carroll’s inclusion of the particular story about the reconciliation of St. Hippolytus proves is that there is good evidence that Catholics within living memory of this event believed it to be the description of what took place. At the very least, we may say that Catholics within living memory of the celebration of St. Hippolytus as a saint and martyr most certainly believe it to be the real case. That is all that is required. As it stands, it is these stories that made St. Hippolytus a great saint in the eyes of the faithful. NOT his martyrdom as a Novatian Ditheist.

    You said: “Your response with regard to Isaac of Nineveh is inconsistent with your previous response on Gregory of Narek, and would require you to identify precisely where in Gregory of Narek’s writings he advocates a heretical Christology. Catholics have not seen Gregory’s writings as heretical; he is venerated by Armenian Catholics (and given the history of the Armenian Catholic Church it is extremely doubtful that this could be done without the acceptance of Rome) and he is in the Roman Martyrology, which means that he is currently venerated by Roman Catholics, as well. And neither you nor anyone else has the authority to treat someone venerated by the Catholic Church as a heretic on the basis of guesswork.”

    I think you are using the word “inconsistent” incorrectly here or you may have simply omitted mentioning the actual inconsistency in my position. What you have actually written does not demonstrate an inconsistency in my thought but simply tries to convince me that the standards I have demanded can be considered to have been met.

    So let me move on to that specific matter.

    For my accusation to stand, I do not have to demonstrate that Gregory of Narek is actually a heretic. I only need to demonstrate that nothing was done to even clarify (by the Church) that his writings is free from the errors that plagued the Church he belonged to (which is indeed true since no clarification was given by Rome). So as such, it lends itself, at the very least, to the misinterpretations I indicated before i.e. take it as a recommendation that the heretical ideas are also right, or worse, become indifferent on doctrinal issues.

    I believe for those reasons, my objection does stand. If my objection is indeed inconsistent, I think you have to explain the lack of consistency in your next comment.

  44. Brandon:

    How does indiscriminately including Lutherans with Copts and Catholics–“it doesn’t matter”–and considering involuntary victims of ISIS as martyrs speak in favor of the great clarity about “the ecumenism of blood” which you see in Francis’s obiter dicta? Martyrs are automatically saints, and therefore it follows that indiscriminate classifications all but demand the canonization of the likes of Bonhoeffer and MLK, Jr. et al. These issues are extremely disorienting to me, mainly because I increasingly see little coherent reason to tell anyone to enter the visible Catholic communion. Apparently, we’re all just as well off being good whatevers, as long as we are sincere. If Gregory Narekatsi was in Union with Rome, by the mysterious transitive property of uniatism, then so are all non-Catholics, so it’s time to give the ecumenical drumbeat a rest. “No one is coming home,” as Pope Francis told his “bridge builder” “brother bishop” Tony Palmer.

  45. Dear B.C. If this …

    Council of Florence, in the Bull on Union with the Copts:

    [The Sacred Roman Church] firmly believes, professes, and preaches that no one existing outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans but also Jews, heretics and schismatics can become partakers of eternal life, but shall go into the eternal fire, which was prepared for the devil and his angels, unless before the end of their lives they join themselves to her, and that the unity of the Church body is so necessary that only for the Christian soldier that remains in her do the church’s sacraments profit for salvation, and fasts, almsgiving and the rest of pious works and exercises produce eternal rewards, and that no one, however much alms he has give, and even if he has shed his blood for the name of Christ, can be saved unless he remain in the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church.[3]

    …has come to be understood as the ecumenism of blood (EOB) then this vacates this infallible teaching and so why all the hubbub of the religious submission of will to V2?

    This EOB claim seems to this BAC that there has been a change in Doctrine, not a development.

    Catholic Dictionary of BOB;

    BAPTISM OF BLOOD

    Martyrdom in the case of a person who died for the Christian faith before he or she could receive the sacrament. The effects of martyrdom of blood are the complete remission of sin and the title to immediate entrance into heaven. The expression entered the Christian vocabulary during the first three centuries when many catechumens awaiting baptism and pagans suddenly converted to the Christian faith were martyred before they could receive formal baptism of water.

    But is that the case with those slaughtered by the sons of Mahomet? Were they yearning to join the Catholic Church?

    BAC was leanrt that to be declared a Catholic Martyr one had to be a Catholic – or, in the case of St Emerentiana (Jan 23rd) –be a Catechumen but now – not so much it seems.

    Will this ineluctably lead to Indifferentism?

    No. It is a result of Indifferentism and which proximate cause is Effete Ecumenism, the universal solvent of Tradition.

    In my book for one to be a Catholic Martyr, one had to suffer martyrdom as a Catholic or Catechumen and one had to have used bar soap to wash his hair.

  46. Tony,
    That is all that is required. As it stands, it is these stories that made St. Hippolytus a great saint in the eyes of the faithful. NOT his martyrdom as a Novatian Ditheist.

    This in itself establishes the problem; St. Hippolytus was not a “Novatian Ditheist”. We have his own assessment of the situation; his schism and status as antipope was due to the fact that he didn’t think the Pope was orthodox enough, and thought that the Popes in his day were scandalously lax; and as one of the most competent theologians of his generation, he had a very good sense of what was orthodox. When we look at the evidence we have outside of St. Hippolytus’s own words, it is all from sources that provably get obvious things wrong — like the association with Novatianism. One can certainly pick and choose a probable story from these sources, but one always has to keep in mind that they repeatedly say things about him that we can easily show to be false.

    We have no definite proof of reconciliation. It’s definitely a possibility; some of our sources (although the same ones that often get things wrong, confuse him with other people, attribute positions to him that he clearly didn’t hold, etc.) say things that would suggest it. But it is at best merely a plausible possibility. What we do know for sure is that Pope St. Fabian canonized both him and his rival Pope St. Pontian as martyrs, and that this seems to have healed the schism. So the question — and despite your attempt yet again to try to pretend that I am making an argument rather than asking a question that you keep obscuring — is whether the rejection of the idea of an ecumenism of blood would require us to regard St. Hippolytus, who was certainly a schismatic, and whose reconciliation with any Pope is not known for certain, as not a martyr. That is the question. A straight answer on the question, with the reason for it, would clarify a great deal. And clarification is the reason for asking the question.

    For my accusation to stand, I do not have to demonstrate that Gregory of Narek is actually a heretic. I only need to demonstrate that nothing was done to even clarify (by the Church) that his writings is free from the errors that plagued the Church he belonged to (which is indeed true since no clarification was given by Rome).

    No one has any right whatsoever to presume that someone is heretical unless they have definite proof. And you are, in addition, claiming that liturgical veneration as a saint and doctor for over two centuries in the Armenian Catholic Church, without protest by Rome which was at every point in a position to protest anything it saw fit, and explicit recognition as a saint by the Roman Catholic Church, as well as the Armenian Catholic Church putting him forward as a possible candidate for Doctor of the Church, specific recommendation on this point by the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, and (assuming this is carried through to the end) identification by authority of the Pope on the universal calendar as a Doctor of the Church and thus as recommended for doctrine to the whole Church, is not “clarification by the Church that his writing is free from the errors that plagued the Church he belonged to”. This insistence is as thoroughly anti-traditionalist a position on the question as can possibly be had: none of the standard ways by which the Church recommends theologians to the faithful are being recognized, and what is more, you are acting as if the Church itself has some sort of unmet burden of proof here, which it manifestly does not.

  47. Elliott,

    Martyrs are very obviously not automatically saints, in the technical sense of canonization; so we aren’t talking about liturgical recognition as a martyr on the calendar. So what sense are we talking about? It’s not difficult to figure out (given that he explicitly emphasizes it at some length) that dying for one’s devotion to Christ is what the Pope has in mind. It is manifestly obvious that Lutherans and Copts can be killed, just like Catholics, for refusing to reject Christ, and it is manifestly obvious that they can be admired precisely for this. It is also clear that Lutherans and Copts would consider such people martyrs, and it is equally clear that even among Catholics any such person would commonly be called a martyr, in at least some broad sense of the term. And it is also clear as a sociological matter that recognizing that people are dying for being Christian, so that they would be killed regardless of being Lutheran or Copt or Catholic or whatever, and that we would all have the responsibility in their place to respond essentially as they responded, is something that can bring Christians together. Hence ‘ecumenism’. So I ask again — what are the implications of your rejection for cases like St. Hippolytus of Rome, or (to use Father Hunwicke’s example) the martyrs on Eastern Catholic calendars whose local bishops were not actually in communion with Rome. What you’ve actually given me seems to be just an extraordinarily implausible slippery slope argument that fails to distinguish martyrdom in the sense of dying for Christ and martyrdom in the sense of being liturgically recognized as a martyr by the Church, and even on the latter point fails to clarify how your position is supposed to handle obviously relevant things, like St. Hippolytus on the universal calendar, or Eastern Orthodox martyrs on Eastern Catholic calendar with Rome’s approval, or non-martyrs already recognized as saints in the Roman Martyrology like St. Sergius of Radonezh or, for that matter, St. Gregory of Narek. It just makes my point: Pope Francis is often unclear, but the lack of clarity here is entirely on the part of the critics.

  48. If ISIS kills Muslims Mormons who whisper “Jesus” as they die, ought the Church recognize them as martyrs?

  49. Again, you fail to clarify despite the fact that everything you’ve said on the subject is extraordinarily unclear. What is the relevance of this to anything? No one has anywhere claimed anything about Muslims on this topic.

  50. Brandonn:

    By putting Catholic martyrs on a par with what are effectively political pawns who happened to be Copts, as well as on a par with committed Lutheran heretics, Francis (following John Paul II’s trail in Ut Unum Sint) is but further reducing the notion of holy martyrdom to a class of sheer religious semiotics. We might as well say the three people killed by the atheist not so long ago were “Muslim martyrs”, since their deaths were materially inextricable from their religious professions. The Church has a good sense of what martyrdom means and entails, and I find it fruitless to try inflating some new sense of meta-martyrdom just because it warms the ecumenical cockles of one’s heart. As BAC pointed out, the Church has spoken definitively, about Copts, no less: even if they shed their blood, but remain outside union with Rome, they are not martyrs; beatified, perhaps, but not true “witnesses” to the One True Faith.

    I also think you are trading in on over-inflated ignorance about Hippolytus. Tony has presented credible evidence that he was reconciled, while you have mainly just waved hands at such evidence as being insufficiently compelling to support a clear account of martyrdom.

    As I say, I find all this very disorienting, and depressing, actually, since I might as well have remained a devout Calvinist who may have been a “martyr” by this time, if I had persisted in my original missionary plans.

  51. Brandon: My bad, I meant to type “Mormons.” I’m still trying to get at why it’s okay to say “it doesn’t matter” whether we speak of apostolic, schismatic, and heretical EQUALLY as “martyrs” of Christ.

  52. So in other words, what you are criticizing in Pope Francis’s claims is nothing that he actually says.

    Tony has presented credible evidence that he was reconciled

    No, Tony has presented a secondary source’s reconstruction of a scenario, one I’ve explicitly noted is a definite possibility, and I have in response pointed out what is in fact notorious, that outside St. Hippolytus’s extant writings and the actual canonization, the sources about Hippolytus on which such a reconstruction has to depend repeatedly get even some very obvious things wrong — and Tony himself provided a good example with the association of St. Hippolytus in some of the sources with Novatianism, which we have excellent reason from St. Hippolytus’s extant writings to think that he had nothing whatsoever to do with.

    But again I have to point out (for the third time now!) that I am not arguing about whether St. Hippolytus was reconciled with the Pope, but asking a question in an attempt to get clarification about what your rejection of the claim of ecumenism of blood actually would entail for a case like St. Hippolytus, whom we know is a martyr but about whose reconciliation we only have plausible inferences based on inconsistent and unreliable source material, and why it would entail whatever it does.

    Likewise, you have yet again posted without answering any of my questions asking you for clarification. Nor am I the only one who asks these kinds of questions; I’ve already noted that several of my confusions about what your rejection entails overlap with worries expressed by Gabriel Sanchez and by Fr. Hunwicke and by others about similar criticisms of Pope Francis on this point. Nothing I have asked on this matter is anything that is not obviously something that needs clarification.

  53. I don’t see how changing from Muslims to Mormons would affect anything.

  54. Francis says “it doesn’t matter” if we speak of Catholic, Coptic, or Lutheran martyrs. I find that problematic. Your own account of Hippolytus implies that his sainthood is tied up with his death as a martyr, which only backs up my point (and the traditional understanding) that all true martyrs are saints.

    I’ll also add this, though it’s only the particular struggle I’m having with this “ecumenism of blood” issue: part of the Church’s infallibility includes NOT canonizing unreconciled heretics and schismatics, including the likes of Hippolytus. There are, thus, good dogmatic reasons for favoring one reading of the evidence over another.

    In contrast to Tony, my beef is not with the precise “orthodoxy” of Grigor Narekatsi–I think the Armenians got him right, as a sort of instinctive beacon back to orthodoxy, and Rome got it right for importing him back in with the Armenians’ return to Rome–but with the cogency of assigning a formal schismatic as a model for the entire Church.

    Lastly, let me ask you: Where would you yourself draw the line of martyrdom?

  55. Again:

    Where do you draw the line?

    Catholics? Orthodox? Oriental? Protestant? Mormon? Jewish? Muslim? Hindu?

    When does one cease to count as a “martyr” if we are just looking for “witnesses to truth as they knew it”?

  56. Pingback: Saints, both near and far… | FideCogitActio : "Omnis per gratiam" fidescogitactio @ gmail . com

  57. As I have already pointed out, your argument before conflated martyrdom in the sense of a liturgical status with martyrdom in the sense of dying for Christ. The conflation is inconsistent with the traditional understanding of martyrdom. But your response here seems to perpetuate the conflation. St. Hippolytus was liturgically canonized as saint and martyr; but as I already pointed out, no one thinks that dying for Christ is automatic canonization. It very obviously is not.

    the cogency of assigning a formal schismatic as a model for the entire Church

    A formal schismatic is someone who actually himself commits the sin of schism. This is as serious a charge as going around talking as if someone is a heretic without proof. What is your evidence that St. Gregory himself was a formal schismatic? I also don’t understand how this is consistent with what you just said. St. Gregory of Narek is already canonized, in both the Armenian and Roman Catholic Churches. I suppose one could argue that the canonization in such cases is not definitive enough, because not universal, but since ‘Doctor of the Church’ is a liturgical status in the universal calendar, he will actually get the title formally only when he is on the universal calendar, and he will then be canonized in the most definitive sense possible, so by your argument in the paragraph immediately before this one this would then be a non-issue.

    Where do you draw the line?

    Perhaps you could start drawing the line with what Pope Francis actually talked about rather than things that have nothing whatsoever to do with what he talked about. In what way do we have ecumenical rather than evangelistic relations with Hindus? How many Hindus are killed specifically because they are Christians?

    Lastly, let me ask you: Where would you yourself draw the line of martyrdom?

    Since you have repeatedly conflated two distinct senses of ‘martyr’, which one do you mean?

  58. Joe m says:

    What Francis talked about had nothing to do with making a doctor out of someone who did not belong to his own Church. So even if it gives a rationale, it suggests decisions are all political versus measured and made with the greatest of care. “This will make a good news item right now, so let’s do it!” “This will solidify the Council as God-sent, so let’s…” At this point, anything any Pope does has to be seen as “beautiful,” and every Pope as saintly, holy, heroic, great … Not because of what they do, but because of how we think. Even if the last several pontiffs have diminished the saint-making process and now the roster of doctors by playing fast and loose with understood rules, in order — I guess — to free up our “God of surprises.” It’s junk. It used to be that we expected our authorities to be the ones who reminded us to respect tradition. Now we are the ones naively pleading that that they will do so. It calls into question the integrity of the entire line of thinking on venerating Tradition. If this is how history plays out, how can there even be an bona fide continuity?

  59. Tony Jokin says:

    Brandon,

    Sorry about the length of this reply but I wanted it to be somewhat thorough in answering your concerns.

    You said: This in itself establishes the problem; St. Hippolytus was not a “Novatian Ditheist”. We have his own assessment of the situation; his schism and status as antipope was due to the fact that he didn’t think the Pope was orthodox enough, and thought that the Popes in his day were scandalously lax; ….. One can certainly pick and choose a probable story from these sources, but one always has to keep in mind that they repeatedly say things about him that we can easily show to be false.

    In case you assumed otherwise, Dr. Warren Carroll does indicate that St. Hippolytus charged Pope Callistus of being too lax. However, he does also indicate that St. Hippolytus had an adverse reaction to the then prevailing heresy of Monarchianism and did in-fact adopt Ditheism. Also, one of the charges of St. Hippolytus against Pope Callistus was that he was a secret adherent to Monarchianism.

    So what is a bit weird here is that you would like to say that the only issue St. Hippolytus had with Pope Callistus was an issue of laxity. That is only half of the story. If you disagree, then what would be my reasons to accept your view over that of a historian like Dr. Warren Carroll?

    You said: We have no definite proof of reconciliation. It’s definitely a possibility; some of our sources (although the same ones that often get things wrong, confuse him with other people, attribute positions to him that he clearly didn’t hold, etc.) say things that would suggest it. But it is at best merely a plausible possibility. What we do know for sure is that Pope St. Fabian canonized both him and his rival Pope St. Pontian as martyrs, and that this seems to have healed the schism.

    I think you are missing the point here. What I am pointing out to you is that regardless of what actually happened in those labor mines, Christians accepted St. Hippolytus as a saint because of that story of him recanting and reconciling with Rome.

    I would also like to point out that your own view is implausible to say the least. Canonizing St. Hippolytus by Pope Fabian would not have healed the schism between the Roman see and followers of St. Hippolytus. Why? Because the followers would continue to disagree on the same issues with Rome. So it is more probable that the memory of Christians regarding the call of St. Hippolytus to reunite with Rome being true. Because that would be the only way that the followers of St. Hippolytus would reconcile with Rome given that Rome never agreed to their doctrine on “absolution” (even if you disagree on whether they held Ditheism).

    If you wish to disagree with this and push forward your view that it was Pope Fabian’s canonization that affected reconciliation, I think you would have to explain how to reconcile my above mentioned difficulty. Otherwise, it is more probable that St. Hippolytus did reconcile with Rome before his death and most certainly asked his followers to do so.

    You said: I am making an argument rather than asking a question that you keep obscuring — is whether the rejection of the idea of an ecumenism of blood would require us to regard St. Hippolytus, who was certainly a schismatic, and whose reconciliation with any Pope is not known for certain, as not a martyr. That is the question. A straight answer on the question, with the reason for it, would clarify a great deal. And clarification is the reason for asking the question.

    But your argument hinges on the idea that St. Hippolytus remained a schismatic. All evidence points to the contrary and that the memory of Christians regarding the last days of St. Hippolytus is in fact true.

    You said: No one has any right whatsoever to presume that someone is heretical unless they have definite proof. …..This insistence is as thoroughly anti-traditionalist a position on the question as can possibly be had: none of the standard ways by which the Church recommends theologians to the faithful are being recognized, and what is more, you are acting as if the Church itself has some sort of unmet burden of proof here, which it manifestly does not.

    You put forward the idea that what is discussed here is anti-traditionalist. In other words, you are pointing out the fact that Rome designating this person as a doctor should be all the clarification that is needed.

    There are some issues with this claim. One could argue that in recent times, persons have been declared as saints without much thorough analysis of evidence. In other words, there has been a certain “laxity” in these matters where apart from what is guaranteed infallibly (the person has reached heaven), the fallible claims are doubtful (all his writings are free from error, every aspect of the person’s life is a magnificent Christian example to imitate etc.)

    But, let us put all that aside. There is a more simpler issue here that you are simply refusing to even look at.

    That simple point is that the lack of explicit clarification that the writings of this person are free from any errors or schismatic ideas, leads to confusion. It leads the Catholics faithful to think that

    1) Doctrinal differences are not important at all, or
    2) The schismatic position is actually correct.

    Keep in mind, this whole issue of “ecumenism of blood” has been discussed here for that very reason. You and many others are wondering if this is an implicit doctrinal pronouncement that ones doctrinal allegiances do not really matter. So as crazy as this sounds, your views expressed here are a prime example of the type of confusion that the lack of clarification regarding this pronouncement has produced.

  60. Tony Jokin says:

    I just got a chance to take a look back at Dr. Warren Carroll’s book again and I found the following in his footnotes in reference to St. Hippolytus. Since the story of St. Hippolytus has been contested by Brandon, I thought this would be helpful.

    “The reconciliation of Hippolytus in the Sardinian mines is too well attested, especially by the evidence of Pope Damasus, to justify any historical reconstruction which would put that reconciliation at any other time.” — Dr. Warren Carroll, A History of Christendom, pg. 484

    Looking at Catholic Encyclopedia for the connection with Pope Damasus, I came across the following

    “According to the inscription over the grave of Hippolytus composed by Pope Damasus, he was a follower of the Novatian schism while a presbyter, but before his death exhorted his followers to become reconciled with the Catholic Church (Ihm, “Damasi epigrammata”, Leipzig, 1895, 42, n.37).”

    So I do not think that there is any sufficient reason to doubt the reconciliation of St. Hippolytus with the Catholic Church before his death. I would add to this the force of the argument that if St. Hippolytus had not done so, one would expect his followers to continue to elect a new Pope and move forward with the views St. Hippolytus held. But history tells us, and Brandon agrees, that they were reconciled to the Church. Brandon does seem to postulate that it was the canonization that resulted in such a reconciliation. But as I have pointed out above, that particular reason seems unlikely given that the followers could easily see that Rome did not still accept the views of St. Hippolytus.

  61. Brandon:

    You know as well as I do that there are countless saints which the Church has not specifically and formally canonized which still count as martyr saints. It is my understanding that willingly to die for Christ as a witness to His Gospel is just to be a saint; and, therefore, all true martyrs are saints; and, therefore, all true martyrs could be formally canonized without any hitches. But this clearly does not hold for the 21 Copts or Bonhoeffer or MLK, Jr. Can you please direct me to Catholic literature that DENIES that martyrs ipso facto enjoy the Beatific Vision?

    The issue is not whom the Church has formally canonized, but what the logical parameters are for any possible canonization.

  62. What I see Tony’s point to be, and why I think it’s compelling:

    Pope Fabian canonized a reconciled, and thus orthodox, Hippolyuts–or he canonized the errors of Hippolytus, and thus whitewashed schism. The latter is absurd both historically and theologically. The former is rooted in evidence and theological parsimony.

    Likewise, it is the case that Grigor Narekatsi is a treasure which Rome imported from otherwise schismatic dreck (cf. the patristic ideas of the treasures of Egypt), but that does not count towards valorizing the Armenians’s formal and longstanding schism. Indeed, it was precisely by submitting to Rome that Rome gave the Armenians the stamp of sanctity for their man Grigor Narekatsi. I suspect there are countless other saints-in-waiting which Rome could also honor, if only their communions would give up on their schismatic predilections.

  63. Again, the issue with Hippolytus is not whether Hippolytus was reconciled with the Pope. I have already stated (multiple times, now!) that it is a definite possibility and could be a plausible inference from the inconsistent mass of evidence in our sources. Scholarly reconstructions of scenarios based on inconsistent and unreliable evidence, however, no matter how evidentially plausible, are not certainties. And the whole point, as I have to point out for the fourth time: What does rejection of an ecumenism of martyrs (to use the phrase by John Paul II to which Francis is alluding) or ecumenism of blood (to use his preferred phrase) imply about St. Hippolytus’s status as martyr, which is established liturgically and healed a schism, but whose reconciliation is only reconstructed from inconsistent and unreliable sources of evidence? Adding more and more complicated scholarly assessments of what is already a well-known tangled mess of original evidence merely shows that you are not, in fact, bothering to pay attention to anything I say. A complete proof of this is shown in this comment from Tony:

    But your argument hinges on the idea that St. Hippolytus remained a schismatic. All evidence points to the contrary and that the memory of Christians regarding the last days of St. Hippolytus is in fact true.

    Which is insulting, because it shows that you have simply been ignoring half of what I have said. I have repeatedly pointed out to you that I am not making a general argument but trying to get clarification through a question that keeps not being addressed properly. Since I have repeatedly stated this, you have no excuse whatsoever for ignoring it. I do not think that Hippolytus ‘remained a schismatic’. Any such idea is entirely in your head. Since I have repeatedly pointed out that his reconciliation is a definite possibility on the evidence, only rejecting the idea that it is based on anything more than plausible inference, you have no excuse for this, either. I have not actually stated my view of St. Hippolytus’s status, because I have, again, been repeatedly trying to get actual clarification about what a particular position — i.e., rejecting the ecumenism of blood idea — entails about St. Hippolytus’s status as martyr, and why.

    As to this comment from Tony:

    It leads the Catholics faithful to think that

    1) Doctrinal differences are not important at all, or
    2) The schismatic position is actually correct.

    No, this is provably false. Armenian Catholics have not had any confusions on the subject for two and a half centuries. They are not second-class Catholics or only kinda-sorta Catholics. They are as much Catholic faithful as you are, their liturgy is one of the official liturgies of the Catholic Church, and their assessment of the situation has as much right to be accounted Catholic as yours does, or as that of any of these supposed Catholic-but-strangely-lacking-in-any-kind-of-Eastern-Catholicism faithful to which you keep appealing — more actually, since their assessment is backed by the actual liturgy and tradition of the Catholic Church.

    And to this from Elliott:

    Pope Fabian canonized a reconciled, and thus orthodox, Hippolyuts–or he canonized the errors of Hippolytus, and thus whitewashed schism. The latter is absurd both historically and theologically.

    If you hold this, then, as I see it, there is no problem at all on this point. Gregory of Narek is already a canonized saint; he has been since Benedict XIV integrated the Armenian Catholic Church in the eighteenth century, this has additional confirmation in the current Roman Martyrology, and now he is apparently being raised to the universal calendar. By this argument, anyone suggesting that any of this canonizes errors and whitewashes schism, whether they be part of Tony’s ‘Catholic faithful’ or not, is suggesting something theologically absurd.

  64. Sorry, Elliott, I missed your other comment:

    You know as well as I do that there are countless saints which the Church has not specifically and formally canonized which still count as martyr saints.

    And you know as well as I do that taking this to imply that calling someone a martyr is to call them a saint is a logical fallacy.

    It is my understanding that willingly to die for Christ as a witness to His Gospel is just to be a saint; and, therefore, all true martyrs are saints; and, therefore, all true martyrs could be formally canonized without any hitches.

    I notice you slipping in the weasel word ‘true’ here, which effectively concedes that there is a looser sense of the word ‘martyr’. Since, as I have already pointed out, a looser sense is quite clearly all that seems to be on the table, this entire argument is beside the point.

    Can you please direct me to Catholic literature that DENIES that martyrs ipso facto enjoy the Beatific Vision?

    The question is not whether martyrs in heaven, whether liturgically venerated directly by name or indirectly en masse in the prayers of the Church, enjoy the Beatific Vision, since obviously they do by definition; this is a question about the liturgical status of ‘martyr’. The question is, and has always been, about ecumenism of blood, i.e., whether people commonly called ‘martyrs’ on earth, because they are killed for being Christians, are a factor in Christian unity.

    The issue is not whom the Church has formally canonized, but what the logical parameters are for any possible canonization.

    No, the issue is that you keep trying to conflate martyrdom with canonization, or apparently more accurately, suitability for canonization.

  65. Sorry, ignore the “this is a question about the liturgical status of martyr”, which is a residue of revision.

  66. Good Lord, we’re all martyrs now.

    In what sense does bornacatholic’s citation of the dogmatic assertion of Florence have to do with ANYTHING anymore? To wit: “no one, [including, specifically, Copts,] however much alms he has give, and even if he has shed his blood for the name of Christ, can be saved unless he remain in the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church.”

    My position is distinct from Tony’s. I am not calling Grigor Narekatsi a heretic. He is merely a member of a formal schism who has now been transmogrified into a universal model for the Church. It’s official, once again: union with Rome is optional, at best. Move along.

    I’m just about done with being a Catholic over this kind of thing, much less remaining as that pathetic mutation (“imitation” of the “kerygma”, ca. 5:00 and onward) known as a Roman Catholic. I’m glad you think the logical qualifiers you have injected into this debate seal off the dogmatic black hole here, but I am still struggling to see it.

  67. “It is just as effective and authentic a witness to ‘Christian unity’ and sanctity to die as a suborned victim of radical Muslims–while also belonging to a communion which has long been schismatic from Rome–as it is to die as a witness to Christ in union with Rome.”

    Discuss.

  68. Tony Jokin says:

    Brandon,

    You said: “Again, the issue with Hippolytus is not whether Hippolytus was reconciled with the Pope. I have already stated (multiple times, now!) that it is a definite possibility and could be a plausible inference from the inconsistent mass of evidence in our sources. Scholarly reconstructions of scenarios based on inconsistent and unreliable evidence, however, no matter how evidentially plausible, are not certainties.”

    Look, this is where I find it hard to understand what you are saying here. Your entire thesis seems to be that all historical truths are in doubt and only merely plausible. But from this perspective, I fail to see how one has any level of certainty regarding the resurrection or that the Catholic Church is indeed the true Church (both these claims have to be known prior to assent).

    You said: “And the whole point, as I have to point out for the fourth time: What does rejection of an ecumenism of martyrs (to use the phrase by John Paul II to which Francis is alluding) or ecumenism of blood (to use his preferred phrase) imply about St. Hippolytus’s status as martyr, which is established liturgically and healed a schism, but whose reconciliation is only reconstructed from inconsistent and unreliable sources of evidence?”

    See, we are just doing circles now. Your entire argument hinges on the idea that there is some uncertainty as to who St. Hippolytus actually was. But all evidence points out that he was considered a martyr because of the story you claim that scholars have merely “reconstructed”.

    You keep throwing words around like “inconsistent” and “unreliable” sources. According to what criteria have you come to consider them unreliable and inconsistent when historians like Dr. Warren Carroll have come to accept them as reliable?

    How are your arguments any different from the likes of Atheists who claim that historical arguments for existence of Jesus of Nazareth, his death and resurrection are any from “unreliable” and “inconsistent” sources?

    You said: “No, this is provably false. Armenian Catholics have not had any confusions on the subject for two and a half centuries. They are not second-class Catholics or only kinda-sorta Catholics. They are as much Catholic faithful as you are, their liturgy is one of the official liturgies of the Catholic Church, and their assessment of the situation has as much right to be accounted Catholic as yours does, or as that of any of these supposed Catholic-but-strangely-lacking-in-any-kind-of-Eastern-Catholicism faithful to which you keep appealing — more actually, since their assessment is backed by the actual liturgy and tradition of the Catholic Church.”

    I wasn’t sure if you were honestly being serious.

    Your argumentation here is proof that there is confusion. The fact that there is no confusion among Armenians is kind of expected. If the Pope were to canonize Luther tomorrow, the confusion is NOT going to be among Lutherans. It is going to be among Catholics. So I really think your argument here is very weak to say the least.

    The argument I raised about confusion cannot be demonstrated to be false by you because it holds true regardless of the field of knowledge we are speaking of here. If you uphold someone who is from an erroneous school of thought as an example for others, it is expected that those who held the orthodox view in that field will be confused.

    I am frankly a little puzzled that you actually think there is room for debate here.

  69. Tony Jokin says:

    Codg,

    You said: “My position is distinct from Tony’s. I am not calling Grigor Narekatsi a heretic.”

    I just want to clarify for the record, I am not accusing this person of being a heretic. What I am saying are the following three propositions.

    1) Given that this person belonged to a schismatic group, it is reasonable to be cautious regarding his writings and preaching for they are likely to contain errors.

    I think this should be trivially obvious as true.

    2) To uphold such a person as one to be studied and learned from creates confusion as to whether doctrinal differences matter at all.

    Anyone should see that this too is true without much difficulty. But lest someone doubt it, I think the entire conversation here alone is proof of it.

    3) To uphold such a person as one to be studied and learned from creates confusion as to whether the schismatic position is actually correct.

    This too should be trivially obvious.

    So from where I stand, I hold nothing against this person being free from any error and enjoying a very high position in heaven right now. However, I do object to the manner in which he has been introduced to the Church today.

    Those who are in charge of introducing such persons as saints, doctors etc. are at least guilty of causing confusion. If this person actually does have errors in his writings, they are also guilty of negligence and rashness.

    I disagree with Brandon because he wants me to believe that I should accept everything as business as usual. I also find his argumentation about historical truths quiet confusing. I do not see how in his insistence that historical truths are merely plausible, he can then proceed to be a Catholic. Only thing one could say about the truth of the Catholic Church and the Christian claims in regards to the life of Christ here on earth by his standards would be that it is plausible…..

  70. Tony:

    Your position is reasonable and I think we’re basically of the same mind on this. The point I was trying to make is that I’m focusing less on the issue of christological heresy and more on the issue of schism. It turns out neither Chalcedon nor Roman unity are all that important, after all. Sigh.

  71. Branch says:

    I continue to wonder…

    2 Peter 2:1: “But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there shall be among you lying teachers, who shall bring in sects of perdition and deny the Lord who bought them.”

  72. st athanasius3 says:

    Can anyone confirm the below comment made on a different blog.

    Sara_TMS_again • 11 hours ago

    Just to note that St Gregory Narek’s ‘s monastery was actually in communion with the Byzantine church during his lifetime- see the discussion in Leon Arpee, A History of Armenian Christianity from the Beginning to our own time (1946). And since the Byzantine Church was also in communion with Rome during Gregory’s lifetime (and until 1054), he was in communion with the Catholic Church, and hence, technically, ‘a Catholic’.
    So this isn’t a ‘takeover bid’ on the part of the Latin Church, but an act of recognition that we share a common heritage of people teaching beautiful theology- along with, of course, earlier doctors we all share and recognise such as Sts Irenaeus, Athanasius, Cyril, Gregory Nazianzen and Gregory of Nyssa.

    http://www.catholicworldreport.com/Item/3719/st_gregory_of_narek_was_the_new_doctor_of_the_church_a_catholic.aspx

  73. Blogmaster says:

    St athanasius3: If this claim can be reliably confirmed, then I retract my criticism and will remove my own blog post. But I’m very skeptical. Is he venerated among the Byzantines? How likely is it that the Armenian Apostolic Church would be venerating a Chalcedonian saint? In his lifetime Christians on all sides of the controversy were mortally serious about such things. It’s possible I suppose, but I need evidence that dates before 1946.

  74. I agree that this claim, if true, would assuage my misgivings, though I prefer to keep my post up, simply because it a “log” of my thoughts over time, not a firm resolution or such.

    “Having said that,” based on some cursory reading I’ve just been doing in preparation for another post about this which I hope to post tonight, I find the copacetic claim dubious at best.

    Stay tuned.

  75. Branch says:

    Even if it turns out that the information st athanasius3 points to, via another commenter elsewhere, is true, I am still skeptical. As Codg has said elsewhere, “As far as what might have been “smuggled in” under the cloak of Gregory’s new status, have a look at the Wiki entry about the Armenian Catholic Church on the topics of female deacons and divorce and remarriage.”

    So then, why this saint as a Doctor and why now? The implications to me are too apparent to think that the instruction we’re to take from this elevation is precisely the one being pushed by the likes of Kasper.

  76. Branch says:

    That should be: “The implications to me are too apparent not to think that the instruction we’re to take from this elevation is precisely the one being pushed by the likes of Kasper.”

  77. Your entire argument hinges on the idea that there is some uncertainty as to who St. Hippolytus actually was. But all evidence points out that he was considered a martyr because of the story you claim that scholars have merely “reconstructed”.

    You like telling me what my argument hinges on; it’s too bad that you’re always wrong. First, because as I now have to point out for the fifth time, because you don’t do anyone the courtesy of actually taking what they say seriously, I’m not making an argument, but asking a question, one which you keep obscuring and I have to keep pointing out that you haven’t actually touched.

    It is in addition factually false to claim that “all evidence points out” that he was considered a martyr because of the story; the status as martyr clearly predates by a considerable amount the earliest indications of the story we have, which are, again, in sources that provably get other things about Hippolytus wrong, and we don’t have St. Fabian’s reasoning on the matter, so this claim about the evidence is simply historically irresponsible. It is manifestly wrong to say the story is “reconstructed”; the question of what about the stories actually happened is reconstructed because, again, the actual evidence is shot through with inconsistencies and inaccuracies. Any notion that I am denigrating it by calling it a reconstruction is entirely in your own mind. But St. Hippolytus’s status as a martyr is a fact, one of the basic evidences in the case; his reconciliation with the Pope can at best be something based on rough inferences and plausible speculations reconstructing what actually happened (e.g., by comparing what all our unreliable sources agree on). They simply don’t have the same status; we have no evidence of the reconciliation even remotely on par with the evidence of status as martyr. They do not have, and rationally cannot have, the same certainty. And that is the point of the question: what kind of certainty and evidential status would actually be necessary if one rejects the ecumenism of blood idea? But you’ve shown every indication of not actually caring what my point is, so I’m not really sure why I’m explaining it yet again.

    The fact that there is no confusion among Armenians is kind of expected. If the Pope were to canonize Luther tomorrow, the confusion is NOT going to be among Lutherans. If you uphold someone who is from an erroneous school of thought as an example for others, it is expected that those who held the orthodox view in that field will be confused.

    But Armenian Catholics are both Catholic and orthodox; they are the Catholic Church in its Armenian rite, their liturgy is a recognized liturgy of the Catholic Church, and they don’t exist merely to make sure that people who are unwilling to respect Eastern Catholics or their liturgy aren’t confused. Nor is the contempt for Armenian Catholics shown here — as if obviously they would have no problem with liturgical veneration of schismatic and heretics because they’re Armenians — anything that Rome or anyone else has any obligation to take into account.

    I disagree with Brandon because he wants me to believe that I should accept everything as business as usual.

    Utter and obvious nonsense, unless you mean by ‘business as usual’ something like “what the Catholic Church was doing even before the First Vatican Council”. As I keep pointing out, Catholics have been liturgically venerating Gregory of Narek as a Catholic saint since Benedict XIV, under conditions of which Rome could not have been unaware.

  78. 1) Given that this person belonged to a schismatic group, it is reasonable to be cautious regarding his writings and preaching for they are likely to contain errors.
    2) To uphold such a person as one to be studied and learned from creates confusion as to whether doctrinal differences matter at all.
    3) To uphold such a person as one to be studied and learned from creates confusion as to whether the schismatic position is actually correct.

    Again, this is all wrong. Since no human writings can be immune from errors, and this does not make all human writing problematic, the only errors that can be meant here are egregious ones like formal heresy and schism, or other ways in which a teaching could itself be a serious stumblingblock. In that case, (1) is only true if the person has not already been vetted; in this case, the theologian in question has been venerated as a saint and given full local honors with Rome’s approval as an important and revered doctor for more than two hundred fifty years, with no problems arising, even if you want to dismiss the fact that he has been put forward as a candidate by the hierarchy of the Armenian Catholic Church and approved after investigation by the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints. (2) is wrong; whether or not people are confused will be entirely determined by the assumptions that they bring on the table, and anyone arguing that Gregory of Narek as Doctor of the Church means that doctrinal differences don’t matter will be engaging in fallacious reasoning. (For one thing, the people who are saying the sort of thing you are saying have identified absolutely nothing in Gregory of Narek’s teachings that would suggest any doctrinal difference at all, and a fortiori nothing that would suggest it at the level of a stumblingblock. Nor is it particularly surprising why they don’t; none of the people complaining show any signs of knowing what St. Gregory actually wrote on any subject at all.) Nor is everyone’s confusion equally important; if Hans Kung, to take just one example, is confused, it is on his own head. The only confusion that would matter would be confusions of people who actually respect the liturgy and traditions of the Church; but this is a case in which the sainthood and theological value of the theologian in question is literally a part of the liturgy and traditions of the Church. (3) is provably wrong from the case of the Armenian Catholics themselves, who uphold the theologian as one to be studied and learned from but have no confusion whatsoever as to whether the schismatic position is actually correct.

    Going around claiming that these things are “trivially obvious” when they are at least controvertible is merely a form of putting one’s fingers in one’s ears and saying la-la-la.

  79. Theodore The Studite says:

    POINT OF REFERENCE: I couldn’t find the proper reference to “Deaconess” in the Armenian Church in this thread, it may be there, but for clarification sake, to anyone who may not know: While the feminists in the West like to point out that the ancient church had “Deaconesses”, they were, and are not now, a true counterpart to a “Deacon”. A Deaconesses duties in the East, (and in the West in certain occasions) are more akin to a “Sacristan” in the west, and are by no means any indication of the ordained role of “Deacon” in the Church East or West. I know two Armenian Catholic Deaconesses. They are “Nuns” or “Mother Superior’s”.
    This is different than someone in the West might gather considering their moniker. Here:

    “Women deacons, an ordained ministry, have served the Armenian Church for centuries. In the Haykazian Dictionary, based on evidence from the 5th-century Armenian translations, the word deaconess is defined as a ‘female worshipper or virgin servant active in the church and superior or head of a nunnery.’ Other pertinent references to women deacons in the Armenian Church are included in the ‘Mashdots Matenadarn collection of manuscripts from the period between the fall of the Cilician kingdom (1375) and the end of the 16th century, which contain the ordination rite for women deacons.’
    http://armenianweekly.com/2013/07/06/a-nearly-forgotten-history-women-deacons-in-the-armenian-church/

    or here: http://www.ignatius.com/Products/DEAC-P/deaconesses.aspx

  80. My position is distinct from Tony’s. I am not calling Grigor Narekatsi a heretic. He is merely a member of a formal schism who has now been transmogrified into a universal model for the Church. It’s official, once again: union with Rome is optional, at best. Move along.

    This is quite obviously a non sequitur, and follows from nothing whatsoever, beyond your occasionally bad habit of substituting sarcasm for your actual reasoning when responding to people. Here are questions for you:

    (1) Are you denying that Eastern Catholics are Catholics?
    (2) Are you denying that Eastern Catholic liturgies are recognized as liturgies of the Catholic Church itself?
    (3) Are you denying that the Armenian Catholic Church is Catholic, orthodox, and in communion with Rome, and that Armenian Catholics are your Catholic brothers and sisters?
    (4) Are you denying that in the Armenian rite of the Catholic Church Gregory of Narek has already been venerated as saint and doctor for over a quarter of a millenium?
    (5) Are you denying that the liturgical and devotional practice of the Catholic Church, when stable over a long period of time, is at least authoritative?
    (6) Do you have any actual evidence that Gregory of Narek himself was a formal schismatic, beyond your mere guesswork? (It is an obvious abuse of terminology to say that someone can be a “member of a formal schism”. Schism is a sinful act. It’s not a society you join or are born into.)

    Or, in other words, what reasoning are you putting on the table that makes your complaint on this matter anything other than an anti-traditionalist denigration of the stable liturgy and tradition of the Catholic Church through the centuries, and of your Catholic brothers and sisters in the East who maintain the Armenian rite?

  81. Tony Jokin says:

    Brandon,

    You said: “You like telling me what my argument hinges on; it’s too bad that you’re always wrong. First, because as I now have to point out for the fifth time, because you don’t do anyone the courtesy of actually taking what they say seriously, I’m not making an argument, but asking a question, one which you keep obscuring and I have to keep pointing out that you haven’t actually touched.”

    Maybe its just me but what you have written here sounds pedantic. Whether it be a question or an argument, the point I have made here is that it hinges on assuming a false conclusion i.e. St. Hippolytus probably never recanted and what would it then mean for us Catholics if ecumenism of blood was to be rejected. I am simply saying that your position is false.

    You said:I t is in addition factually false to claim that “all evidence points out” that he was considered a martyr because of the story; the status as martyr clearly predates by a considerable amount the earliest indications of the story we have, which are, again, in sources that provably get other things about Hippolytus wrong, and we don’t have St. Fabian’s reasoning on the matter, so this claim about the evidence is simply historically irresponsible…..

    What exactly is your conception of historical truth? For that matter, are you even a qualified historian? Since when did historical claims suddenly become dubious because someone did not give their reasoning about it? Unless you have some contrary evidence from St. Fabian regards to St. Hippolytus story, historically speaking, you have no leg to stand on.

    Now please answer the following questions. Does the historical fact of the resurrection withstand the level of scrutiny you have in regards to the story of St. Hippolytus? How about death of Julius Caesar? If you can’t answer these questions and point out how the story of St. Hippolytus is somehow different, I think you are just a person with an inconsistent framework for measuring historicity

    Your standard of what is required to consider something historical truth is absurd, as far as I have studied the subject. Frankly, the impression you give is that for something to be historically accurate, all stories should sound the same and every one involved should have written their story (saying this because of your insistence on St. Fabian).

    Regardless of this specific matter on St. Hippolytus, I find your reasoning in regards to evaluating historicity absurd.

    You said: “But Armenian Catholics are both Catholic and orthodox; they are the Catholic Church in its Armenian rite, their liturgy is a recognized liturgy of the Catholic Church, and they don’t exist merely to make sure that people who are unwilling to respect Eastern Catholics or their liturgy aren’t confused. Nor is the contempt for Armenian Catholics shown here — as if obviously they would have no problem with liturgical veneration of schismatic and heretics because they’re Armenians — anything that Rome or anyone else has any obligation to take into account.”

    Brandon, please try to follow the argument.

    Armenians are the ones who did hold to error, once upon a time. Whether they are Catholic now or not is not that relevant to the point I made to you. I merely pointed out to you the truism that if I were to declare a supporter of one of those errors as a great man (for an example), it is not surprising that they will protest it. After all, even if that person were in error, that person would be part of their history and probably held in high esteem among that culture.

    You said: Utter and obvious nonsense, unless you mean by ‘business as usual’ something like “what the Catholic Church was doing even before the First Vatican Council”. As I keep pointing out, Catholics have been liturgically venerating Gregory of Narek as a Catholic saint since Benedict XIV, under conditions of which Rome could not have been unaware.

    I really do not know why this is so hard for you. Regardless of since when we happen to have had this person in the list, it does not change the fact that it is now that he has entered into the spotlight among non-Armenian Catholics. Now any non-Armenian Catholic would like to know how and why the Church suddenly found a person who is not known to have accepted Chalcedon suddenly gets called a Doctor of the Church.

    I would even be willing to overlook the idea that he is a saint. Why? Because he probably made it to heaven. But to take that person and then uphold him as a Doctor of the Church is problematic. At the very least, there should be some explanation that although he was in the schismatic Church, his writings never ventured in to the contentious area of thought. Or, that he seems to have silently accepted Chalcedon according the ideas he expresses in his writings etc.

    But without that, we have a problem.

    So what am I saying here? I am saying that regardless of the time (pre or post Vatican II), the Church needs to explain this canonization or naming him as a Doctor of the Church.

    (Continued to next comment)

  82. Tony Jokin says:

    You said: “(1) is only true if the person has not already been vetted; in this case, the theologian in question has been venerated as a saint and given full local honors with Rome’s approval as an important and revered doctor for more than two hundred fifty years, with no problems arising,”

    I believe your argument here is that if there were issues, then they would materialize as problems in the now Armenian Catholic Church. I think this might come from your same misunderstanding regards to my earlier point.

    You forget that ancient cultures do not suddenly forget those who they held in high esteem. So if Gregory of Narek for an example was highly esteemed, they would be very reluctant to just completely abandon the saint. In fact, how many persons do you know as being rejected from sainthood by the Eastern Churches who later joined the Catholic Church? I don’t think there are that many or any for that matter. I do think that is somewhat of a problem. Especially with the likes of persons like Gregory Palamas who is still venerated in the Byzantine Catholic calendar.

    So what am I saying here? I am saying that there are probably many Eastern Catholic saints who are questionable. As a Roman Catholic, I let it be because I know that the Eastern Catholics have accepted all doctrine. So in most cases, even if they are confronted with an error, they are likely to simply correct it. Is there a risk? Yes, but maybe it is better to keep the unity.

    BUT BUT BUT, what I would find completely abhorrent is if someone were to suddenly uphold one of those problematic saints as Doctors of the Church to be studied by all and shape their thinking. That is just disastrous.

    You said: (2) is wrong; whether or not people are confused will be entirely determined by the assumptions that they bring on the table, and anyone arguing that Gregory of Narek as Doctor of the Church means that doctrinal differences don’t matter will be engaging in fallacious reasoning.

    This reply of yours was a bit funny. It is like telling the kid who imitates the father’s actions that there decision to imitate was fallacious. In other words, you seem to have a serious misunderstanding about how humans naturally operate.

    Ambiguous actions usually lead to bad interpretations. This was known in the Church since the beginning. In fact, some condemnations of ideas and actions were issued in the past not because something was obviously erroneous but because it mislead the faithful.

    Anyway, you do not need to be a Roman Catholic to know that proposition (2) is true.

    you said: (3) is provably wrong from the case of the Armenian Catholics themselves, who uphold the theologian as one to be studied and learned from but have no confusion whatsoever as to whether the schismatic position is actually correct.<//em>

    Well, I think I have adequately explained why your example of Armenian Catholics does not satisfy as a counter example.

    Anyway, I would like to add to that since you keep objecting to this “confusion” aspect. Let me point out an example of confusion. Take the ideas of Gregory Palamas. Most Byzantine Catholics aren’t sure if his ideas are accepted or not. Some argue that they are accepted because they can celebrate his feast. Others argue that he probably isn’t because his thought is quiet significantly incompatible with Thomism.

    So it is very possible, that even among Armenians, you have such a division.

    But regardless Brandon, please note that all three propositions I have listed apply to any field of thought. Not just religion. So your insistence on trying to debate them does make me wonder at times whether you are really being honest.

  83. Tony Jokin says:

    Brandon,

    you said: “(1) Are you denying that Eastern Catholics are Catholics?
    (2) Are you denying that Eastern Catholic liturgies are recognized as liturgies of the Catholic Church itself?
    (3) Are you denying that the Armenian Catholic Church is Catholic, orthodox, and in communion with Rome, and that Armenian Catholics are your Catholic brothers and sisters?
    (4) Are you denying that in the Armenian rite of the Catholic Church Gregory of Narek has already been venerated as saint and doctor for over a quarter of a millenium?
    (5) Are you denying that the liturgical and devotional practice of the Catholic Church, when stable over a long period of time, is at least authoritative?
    (6) Do you have any actual evidence that Gregory of Narek himself was a formal schismatic, beyond your mere guesswork? (It is an obvious abuse of terminology to say that someone can be a “member of a formal schism”. Schism is a sinful act. It’s not a society you join or are born into.)”

    Although the above was not addressed to me, I would like to ask the following.

    Has the Roman Catholic Church ever opposed the veneration of any of the saints that Eastern Catholics had in their liturgy prior to reuniting with Rome? Do you think that it means all the Eastern Catholic saints were free of error and had nothing to do with remaining in schism? I find that highly implausible.

    If I were a betting man, I would say that if the Orthodox were to reunite with Rome tomorrow, all their saints would also be allowed to be venerated.

    I am guessing that all of these saints are not accepted after careful study by the Roman Church, but because Rome hopes that any theological derivation from the writings of even those saints will be overruled and have to submit to the common faith agreed upon at the time of reunion. So in a way, the reunification agreement stands as a safeguard.

    Now going into problems, I just came across Quartus Supra by Pius IX which was directed against a new group of Armenian schismatics. Perhaps that is a sign of errors that stemmed from them delving deeply into their heritage or perhaps it was not. In any case, going from whether allowing such veneration caused problems or not until now is not a good indicator that it will not do so in the future. However, such veneration can be tolerated for the sake of maintaining unity. Asking them to suddenly remove persons they venerated as great men within their cultures might not sit well with the faithful.

    However, as I pointed out before, raising one of those saints to the level of Doctor is an entirely new ball game. When you do such a thing, you put the focus of the entire Church on that person. It is understood that the ideas of such a person enjoys a certain level of authority within the Church and is to be used to shape theological development. That goes far beyond the understanding of simply making a prudent choice to allow all the Eastern Catholic saints to be kept that way.

    So I think your line of argument is somewhat flawed. One can consider the Eastern Catholics to be fully Catholic but doubt the correctness of the writings of their saints. Or is your claim that every Eastern Catholic saint has been studied with scrutiny by Rome before giving the approval?

  84. Brandon:

    Throwing a dash of wit into the mix is not sarcastic. You have to laugh or die crying, etc.

    (1) Are you denying that Eastern Catholics are Catholics?

    No. Non sequitur. Those who have returned to communion with Rome are just as Catholic as I am, because we equally embrace the apostolic order of authority. The point is that, to this day, non-Catholic Armenians, Copts, et al., still reject Rome’s authority, and are in that respect more continuous with Gregory’s ecclesial status than his uniate descendants.

    (2) Are you denying that Eastern Catholic liturgies are recognized as liturgies of the Catholic Church itself?

    No. Another non sequitur. The issue is not the flourishing of multiple liturgical forms in the Catholica, but rather the elevation of someone who was (except for a recent claim I’m researching about his monastery) never in communion with Rome and never formally embraced Chalcedonian orthodoxy.

    (3) Are you denying that the Armenian Catholic Church is Catholic, orthodox, and in communion with Rome, and that Armenian Catholics are your Catholic brothers and sisters?

    No, see my response to 1. The issue is about Gregory’s status as a plausible norm for catholicity, and the Armenian church’s ecclesial status during his lifetime.

    (4) Are you denying that in the Armenian rite of the Catholic Church Gregory of Narek has already been venerated as saint and doctor for over a quarter of a millenium?

    No, but I am trying to pin down how his lack of communion with Rome meshes with the Armenian uniates’ submission to Rome.

    (5) Are you denying that the liturgical and devotional practice of the Catholic Church, when stable over a long period of time, is at least authoritative?

    No, but, again, blessing the Armenians’ veneration and liturgical “absorption” of his writings does not entail that he ought to be made a Doctor of the entire Church. If anything, I wish Maximus the Confessor had been “doctorized”–it would have sent the same ecumenical message while deeply reaffirming the truth and beauty of Chalcedon, rather than bringing its apparently optional authority to the fore.

    (6) Do you have any actual evidence that Gregory of Narek himself was a formal schismatic, beyond your mere guesswork? (It is an obvious abuse of terminology to say that someone can be a “member of a formal schism”. Schism is a sinful act. It’s not a society you join or are born into.)

    I’m doing research on this topic, Brandon. It’s a weblog. I’m on the verge of presenting evidence that may completely vindicate Gregory’s ecclesial bona fides, and I’ve already written about how I am giving his major work a fair and prayerful shake.

    Until then, however, every article I’ve read about his elevation has admitted that he was not a Catholic. I repeat: the consensus so far is that the newest Doctor of the Catholic Church was not a member of the Catholic Church–and that’s oh-kay. Huh?

    The issues of schism and reconciliation were alive and well in his time, the Armenians’ rejection of Constantinople III having only occurred three centuries before his lifetime. His own monastery was founded by Armenians who fled Byzantine religious persecution (which only stokes my desire to learn more about the claim that Narekavank was “in communion with the Eastern Orthodox,” and thus, with the Catholic Church). Gregory chose to remain in a community separate from Rome, which is remarkable especially if it’s true that he and his fellow monks were “pro-Chalcedon”, as I’ve heard claimed in a couple forums. If Chalcedon was authoritative, but his Armenian fellowship rejected it and Rome, why didn’t he walk across the Chalcedonian bridge back to Rome? There are plenty of examples of Easterners who “voted with their feet” by going against the current into which they were born and reconciling with Rome. I’m happy to affirm that his writings lack any formal heresies, but I’m not the only one unsettled by the unprecedented choice to establish a non-Catholic as a Catholic Doctor.

    It is not sarcasm when I say that, in light of actions like this and numerous other much worse ecumenical gestures over the past few decades, I really see no coherent reason why anyone should leave his or her religious community in favor of uniting with Rome. Just give it a few centuries, it seems, and all differences will get smoothed over as historical accidents and/or “solved” by linguistic imprecision.

  85. Tony,

    the point I have made here is that it hinges on assuming a false conclusion i.e. St. Hippolytus probably never recanted

    I have already told you MORE THAN ONCE that this is an incorrect interpretation of what I have said. I have also explicitly noted that the question is a clarificatory question about what kind and certainty of evidence is required if one rejects the ecumenism of blood idea. Since you are actively ignoring what I explicitly say, I have nothing more to say to you; you are wasting my time.

  86. Elliott,

    A minor quibble, but questions can’t be non sequiturs; it’s a logical impossibility because questions are not categorical propositions and thus not able to be conclusions.

    If anything, I wish Maximus the Confessor had been “doctorized”

    St. Maximus the Confessor is an excellent theologian, but he is a confessor; as such his liturgical status already outranks that of a doctor, even a Doctor of the Church. This is why it is usually said that to be a Doctor of the Church the saint can’t be a martyr, however important they are as a theologian; it’s not technically impossible but these are liturgical statuses, and the theologian’s liturgical status as a martyr would always take precedence over his or her liturgical status as a doctor, so it would be completely otiose. The same reasoning applies to confessors, who are treated liturgically as quasi-martyrs.

    One of the frustrating things about this discussions is repeatedly having my questions ignored or responded to with sarcasm or snark that didn’t actually address them. Thank you for answering this last batch.

  87. I apologize for any undue snark. It’s just how I blow off steam sometimes. I’m not sure why, but this issue is really eating at me, and I’m just trying to do the whole fides quaerens intellectum thing. Thanks for your patience.

    (I suppose I should have said “red herring”, but all I meant to convey is that the posing of such questions does “not follow from” my difficulties. Your technical proviso is well noted.)

  88. Tony Jokin says:

    Brandon,

    You said: “I have already told you MORE THAN ONCE that this is an incorrect interpretation of what I have said. I have also explicitly noted that the question is a clarificatory question about what kind and certainty of evidence is required if one rejects the ecumenism of blood idea. Since you are actively ignoring what I explicitly say, I have nothing more to say to you; you are wasting my time.”

    I am wasting your time huh? Did it ever occur to you how it might feel from my perspective as I read your replies? Replies filled with claims like “it is only a reconstruction etc.” without even giving a dime of respect to actual historians? Or more importantly, without even explaining your method of historical analysis so that it can be validated against established norms?

    Anyway, you fail to provide a coherent method for judging historicity. As I have repeatedly pointed out, your criteria for evidence would undermine even the historicity of the resurrection of Christ. But you keep acting as if St. Hippolytus is the only story in doubt according to your method of analyzing historical truth. That is just BIAS!

    But then you keep telling me that I am not addressing your question. I do not address your question because I find it frankly MEANINGLESS. You might as well ask what should Christians think about the claim that the ressurection is historical given that the evidence is not completely plausible by your standards. But you fail to see that. You think in your crusade to prove whatever it is that you want to prove about Gregory of Narek, you can get away with gymnastics when it comes to analyzing historical truths.

    For the RECORD, I have ignored Brandon’s questions because the premise upon which Brandon’s question are based seem very broad and questionable. I fail to see how Brandon can continue to ask the questions he asks and still maintain any certainty in regards to historical truths claimed by the Church in regards to

    1) Life of Christ
    2) Apostles and the establishment of the Catholic Church
    3) Or ironically, perhaps even the existence of St. Gregory of Narek for that matter…..

    I have been trying to convince Brandon that his entire starting premise is nonsensical but he is complaining about how I ignore his question.

  89. I suppose I should have said “red herring”, but all I meant to convey is that the posing of such questions does “not follow from” my difficulties.

    Perhaps not, but they are connected to why I don’t understand your difficulties.

  90. Tony Jokin says:

    Elliott,

    You said: “It is not sarcasm when I say that, in light of actions like this and numerous other much worse ecumenical gestures over the past few decades, I really see no coherent reason why anyone should leave his or her religious community in favor of uniting with Rome. Just give it a few centuries, it seems, and all differences will get smoothed over as historical accidents and/or “solved” by linguistic imprecision.”

    My thoughts exactly. Give it enough time and the persons who remained in the schismatic group might even have his writings raised up as exemplary.

    I might also lay out an argument this way

    a) There is no historical record or historical tradition of Gregory of Narek attempting to reconcile with Rome.
    b) Gregory of Narek is an example of a person who remained in a schismatic Church
    c) At the very least, Gregory of Narek can be said to have been ignorant of the need to reconcile with the Catholic Church and therefore it casts doubt on the value of his writings (so should he be raised to the level of a Doctor?)
    d) At the very least, Gregory of Narek gives an example that it is not necessary to be reunited with Rome. (Should he be held up as an example for the faithful to imitate?)

    I am thinking of an Eastern Orthodox follower who sees all of this. Their impression would be that there is no need to reconcile with Rome. He/she might even become a saint and a doctor of the Catholic Church while still remaining an Eastern Orthodox. (Of course, part of his Eastern Orthodox group will have to become Catholic while the rest remain that way. That is sufficient to then consider him for these titles as long as the faithful venerate him).

  91. Tony Jokin says:

    I also did not get an answer from Brandon so I am still wondering.

    Were all the saints venerated in the reunited Eastern Catholic Churches (before the reunion) studied and scrutinized before their veneration was allowed to continue? My guess at the moment is that they were just approved automatically in order to avoid unnecessary conflict.

    Anyone know any information about the details?

  92. Pingback: That the Church's Newest Doctor May Remind Us of an Old Truth: Rome Is Home - OnePeterFive

  93. Pingback: Gregory of Narek – Christological Heresy now implicitly Incorporated into the Church | Biblical False Prophet

  94. Irenaeus of New York says:

    The Armenian Catholic Church is to be looked at as the true Church of Armenia and therefore if they are in communion with us, so are their saints. The other thing is, if we accept the Armenian Catholic Church (which was done centuries ago when the Catholic church was much more precise), then we are accepting their cult of saints (even though they didn’t show up in Butler or the martyrology or wherever).

    In any case, that is how I have come to rest on the subject.

  95. Irenaeus of New York says:

    I am obviously tired, because i made the same point twice. must…. get…. sleeep

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