by Joseph P. Farrell, Giza Death Star:

By now most of the readership of this website will have heard about the Vatican’s excommunication of Archbishop Vigano, the former apostolic nuncio (ambassador) to the United States. And so many of you emailed me with this or that article about the story that I am compelled to comment about it, though I do so with some sadness, considerable reluctance, and a certain sense of duty to do so. More of all this in a moment. Here is CBS’ News version of the story:


WORLD Vatican excommunicates ex-ambassador to U.S., Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, declares him guilty of schism

A blog such as this, on a topic such as this, requires that I lay all my cards on the table, up front, so that people understand where I’m coming from, and why.  As for my confession of faith, I am Eastern Orthodox, though many “canonical” jurisdictions would dispute even that. But that fact is also a part of my laying my cards on the table, and a necessary component of “where I’m coming from and why.” As a confession of faith, being Orthodox means, of course, that one is part of that ancient Catholic Faith and Church, and as such, one does not adhere to any articulation of papal claims, nor any doctrines imposed upon the Church in conjunction with and by means of those claims. The papacy’s claims to universal and immediate jurisdiction over the entire globe, and its claims to an infallibility in matters of faith and morals without the consent of the church (ex consensu ecclesiae), have never been, are not, and will never be a part of the initial deposit of the Faith. The doctrines imposed by that false and specious authority include a horrendous modification to the doctrine of the Trinity (the filioque), an adherence to a misunderstanding of the doctrine of ancestral sin, and the imposition of dogmas such as the Bodily Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the dogma of her Immaculate Conception to preserve her free of the taint of the (misunderstood doctrine of) original sin. On and on we could go: purgatory, the sale of indulgences, the treasury of merit, works of supererogation. Roman Catholicism has never been a temptation for me.  Many Orthodox do believe in the Bodily Assumption; others do not. In any case, the Orthodox church celebrates her Dormition, her “falling asleep in Her Son and Lord,” and thus do its Ikons depict the feast. The Immaculate Conception dogma is – to be blunt – simply not needed.

My own experience, however, inclines me to a great deal of sorrowful empathy towards Roman Catholics who might be traditionally minded, and doing their best to live a Christian life and to be faithful to what they understand as the central tenets of Christian faith as articulated in “the Symbol of the Faith,” the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed. I sympathize because for my whole life I’ve been dealing with churches that have become functionally, if not de facto, apostate. It began when I was a boy growing up in the precursor to the modern United Methodist Church, the old Methodist Episcopal Church, with its ritual and Book of Discipline based closely on the Anglican Book of Common Prayer.  Sunday services were beautiful, worshipful, and conveyed that presence of the Incarnate God as only such services can; candles were lit, robes were worn, creeds recited, Gloria Patri’s sung to the tune of Old One Hundredth. Then came the “merger” with the Evangelical United Brethren, and overnight, all that ritual connection to tradition was swept away. Suddenly everything became “modern,” which is to say, flat, one dimensional, ugly, pedantic, and “updated to attract the youth and be ‘open to the world.'” I was a youth at the time, and wanted none of it, and indeed, the one reason I thought church worth going to was to get away from the silliness of the world, if only for an hour.  I did not know it then, but the Methodist Church had been through its own version of Vatican Council Two. Several years later, after some searching, I joined the Episcopal Church, just months before the same thing happened there: a new ritual, ugly “Vatican Two burlap” vestments, a style of English that was flat, one dimensional, an effort to uglify and remove all transcendence, and “priestettes”, women dressed up as priests, and trying to symbolize what Christian priesthood is meant to symbolize: Christ Himself.   A few traditionalist Episcopalians did something that was unexpected: they opted for schism over heresy, broke with the now apostate official church, and retained their old customs, ritual, and tradition. I joined them. A few months later, these group met in St. Louis, Missouri, and crafted a document called The Affirmation of St Louis, laying out the principles by which they would be governed. One of those statements was that “We disavow the right of any church body to amend, alter, or suppress any of the seven ancient ecumenical definitions of the Faith.” It was an amazing statement to make, and in many respects, the final ultimate outcome of where the finest impulses of Anglican Christianity had been headed since the Reformation. For me, that statement led me to Eastern Orthodoxy, because on the basis of its own principles, one could no longer accept the filioque as authoritative.   During this time I had watched Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre leading a traditionalist opposition in the Roman Church, doggedly clinging to the Latin Mass, until, finally, many years after Vatican II, he too was excommunicated.

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