An epochal meeting with epochal consequences

Meeting between Pope Francis and Moscow Patriarch Kirill

Meeting between Pope Francis and Moscow Patriarch Kirill 

2016/02/15 • Analysis & Opinion, Featured

Article by: Myroslav Marynovych

Anyone who remembers my article “When diplomacy prevails over principles of faith” knows that I was not very hopeful about the planned meeting between Pope Francis and the Patriarch of Moscow Kirill. However, I also did not want to write cautionary articles before the meeting. After all, Vatican diplomacy has not shown signs of recovery this year and sometimes it is better to allow the boil to form because then the illness becomes more evident.

Unfortunately, this is what happened.

The first problem was the meeting itself. It had been sought by several predecessors of Pope Francis. In particular, it had been insistently pursued by Pope John Paul II. However, the prize went to the Pope, who was the least prepared of all.

This is because Pope Francis is a pastor and not a politician, as Moscow knows very well. Of all the popes, he was the safest to deal with. Moreover, the current Pope, formed in Latin America, is not well versed in the situation in Eastern Europe and has never had direct contact with the “secrets of the Kremlin court.”

The sphere where the Pope feels at home and where he is capable of reaching spiritual heights is the human soul. However, world politics, as has become very evident, has been relegated to the politicians of the Roman Curia of the Apostolic See.

The Moscow Patriarchate has for a long time skillfully taken advantage of certain features of Vatican positions, consistently refusing meetings with popes when it found the conditions to be unfavorable. The “guilty” were always the Catholics, of course, either because of the fictitious “Catholic proselytism in Russia” or the so-called “violence of Greek Catholics over the Orthodox in Western Ukraine.”

And suddenly all these arguments vanished. The motivation here, of course, was again of utmost importance. It became necessary, apparently, to jointly protect the Christians of Syria (who, incidentally, have been eagerly bombed by Russia) and to protect human civilization from all sorts of perversions. And, in reality, to save Putin’s Russia from complete isolation and defeat.

I suspect that Vatican diplomats are celebrating this “victory”:  decades of enormous efforts that finally have given positive results. Moscow was finally “persuaded to a dialogue.” In fact, the Pope said that key word “finally” when he embraced the Patriarch.

However, to determine who really won here let us turn to the Declaration signed in Cuba.

Trusting and peace-loving people will pay attention primarily to a number of paragraphs that, if separated from the circumstances, could easily be considered as achievements of recent interchurch relations. For example, those troubled by the silence of secular Europe to the suffering of Christians from the violence in the Middle East will be glad to see that the signers of the Declaration share their concerns.

People with a more liberal inclination, for whom pluralism and tolerance are important, will be satisfied with paragraph 13 that ” Differences in the understanding of religious truths must not impede people of different faiths to live in peace and harmony.” On the other hand, people of conservative inclination will be satisfied with paragraphs 19-21, where traditional family values, the right to life, and warnings about the dangers of aggressive secularism are emphasized.

But for me, educated in the duplicity of communist ideology and shocked by the cynicism of the Russian World ideology, deeds are important, not words. So when I read in paragraph 13 that “In our current context, religious leaders have the particular responsibility to educate their faithful in a spirit which is respectful of the convictions of those belonging to other religious traditions,” I immediately remember that the Moscow Patriarch has not uttered a single word to condemn the military aggression of his country against Ukraine nor the religious persecution on the occupied territories. Therefore, he has not fulfilled the requirement that he so eloquently invokes in the quoted passage.

This is why these points in the Declaration, which primarily relate to the situation in Ukraine or which are applied to it, are for me a test that reveals the sincerity or insincerity of the Moscow Patriarch and the awareness of the Catholic side.

Paragraph 26 could be called “Balamand-like.” It repeats almost word for word the famous formula of the Balamand Agreement which made it famous, namely the distinction between:

(a) “Uniatism” as a method of achieving unity of churches and

(b) the Eastern Catholic Churches which, though they were created as a result of the union, still have a right to exist.

But there is one “minor” change in the Cuban Declaration. It no longer refers to the Eastern Catholic Churches but to church communities. To the secular ear, the difference is almost unnoticeable, but the ecclesiastical reality behind these definitions is radically different! The Vatican is well aware of this difference when, for example, it distinguishes between “Protestant Churches” and “Protestant Church communities.”

Therefore, one cannot consider this a simple omission. The document clearly speaks of “communities,” which as a result of the union “became separated from their churches.” Therefore, this entire paragraph is written on the basis of Orthodox ecclesiology according to its Moscow interpretation.

It is worth quoting paragraph 26 in full: ” We deplore the hostility in Ukraine that has already caused many victims, inflicted innumerable wounds on peaceful inhabitants, and thrown society into a deep economic and humanitarian crisis. We invite all the parties involved in the conflict to prudence, to social solidarity, and to action aimed at constructing peace. We invite our Churches in Ukraine to work towards social harmony, to refrain from taking part in the confrontation, and to not support any further development of the conflict.”

This paragraph was clearly written in the Kremlin. It literally repeats the Kremlin’s propaganda cliché about the purely domestic nature of the “conflict in Ukraine.” It contains an indirect allusion that the Russian Orthodox Church in the zone of conflict is peace-loving whereas the “Uniates” and the “raskolniki” (schismatics –Ed.) are fueling the conflict. In any case, this is how this paragraph will be used by Moscow in the future.

And finally, there is no mention in this paragraph of something that is obvious to the entire world — Russia’s involvement in this conflict. The fact that this point was proposed by the Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev (chairman of the Department of External Church Relations of the Patriarchate of Moscow – Ed.) is clear, but what is extraordinary is that the Vatican diplomats accepted it and eventually so did the Pope. While it might have been possible not to understand the nature of the “Ukrainian conflict” in the summer of 2014, the “naïve ignorance” exhibited in the beginning of 2016 is on the Vatican’s conscience.

In paragraph 27 the Declaration signatories express the “hope that the schism between the Orthodox faithful in Ukraine may be overcome through existing canonical norms.” Well, this is longtime Vatican politics — to maintain contacts in Ukraine only with the “canonical” Orthodox Church.

So it is not difficult to imagine how negatively this paragraph will be received by the Ukrainian Orthodox Churches that are not in communion with the Moscow Patriarchate. One can only deplore once again that in the Vatican’s view the principle of canon law takes on an absolute character with no regard to the distortions of truth and justice that are at its core.

The desire to avoid irritating Moscow has become the starting point for any steps in the Vatican for relations with other churches. For Ukrainian Christians this could be a reason for outrage if not for the fact that, fortunately, the Gospel says nothing about canonical law but quite a lot about truth and the necessary caution that Christians need to exhibit in the face of the evil one. The impression of evil is only amplified when you read paragraph 28, which contains many beautiful and accurate words on the need for cooperation between the Orthodox and the Catholics and about the evangelical basis of this cooperation. However, as soon as one comes across the words about the need ” to testify together to the moral dignity and authentic freedom of the person,” the mind immediately sees the massive violations of human rights in the occupied territories controlled by Russia, which have now become the preserve of the “Russian World.”

The issue is the persecution of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate and the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, the physical destruction of Protestant pastors, the arbitrary arrests and “disappearances” of the activists of the Crimean Tatar movement and so on. There is not a single word about all this in the Declaration. It is as if the suffering of the “non-canonicals” and those of other “religious affiliations” are less worthy of compassion than the Christians in Syria.

In the past, Roman popes repeatedly used meetings with political or religious leaders to defend religious freedom and human rights. It is enough to remember the release of Patriarch Yosyf Slipyi from Siberian imprisonment, which we owe to Pope John XXIII, or the legalization of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, which we owe to Pope John Paul II.

Myroslav Marynovych

Myroslav Marynovych

This is why it was impossible to condemn the planned meeting between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill before it took place because the Pope had the opportunity to defend the interests of those harmed by Russian aggression. He had the opportunity but did not use it. The Cuban Declaration of the two church heads was structured is such a way that Russia is referred to as the country of the “unprecedented renewal of the Christian faith ” where there is the opportunity now to “to freely confess one’s faith” while concern arises only about other countries. It is only in other countries that “Christians are increasingly confronted by restrictions to religious freedom, to the right to witness to one’s convictions and to live in conformity with them.”

This is why I have reached the painful conclusion that on the issue of Ukraine and Russia the Catholic Church has once again avoided the truth for the benefit of an ephemeral “dialogue with Moscow.”

The Cuban Declaration of the Pope and the Moscow Patriarch is a vivid illustration of several things at once: the undeniable victory of the Kremlin and the FSB along with all their obedient subjects, to which I add the Russian Orthodox Church; the complete failure of Ukrainian state diplomacy in the Vatican and the clear inadequacy of the information service of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church there; the helpless blindness and incompetence of the Vatican diplomacy, which is so easily fooled by the vocabulary of peace; and the ominous failure of Europe’s influential circles to decode the deceitful formulas of Putin’s propaganda.

This is why it is logical to conclude that the meeting between the Roman Pope and the Moscow Patriarch was epochal. However equally epochal were the failures of the Vatican diplomats, who could not see the real world from behind their shabby textbooks on “Ostpolitik.”

Myroslav Marynovych is a vice-rector of the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv, co-founder of Amnesty International Ukraine, a founding member of the Ukrainian Helsinki Group, and a former political prisoner.

Translated by: Anna Mostovych
Source: Ukrayinska Pravda

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  • Lev Havryliv

    How long will it take for the Pope to realize he is being taken in by a sophisticated, well resourced arm of the Putin regime?

    Historically the Russian Orthodox Church has acted in the service of Russian imperialism and Russian autocracy. So what has changed?

    • Quartermaster

      Expecting anything out of the papacy is like expecting an umbrella to protect you from a falling building. The popes are interested only in extending their influence and power in the world. Read what Bergoglio is doing in that light, and everything will fall into place.

  • Quartermaster

    During Stalin’s regime the Russian Orthodox Church became a part of the Soviet State and most, if not all, of the Bishops became KGB agents. Kirill seems to be willing to maintain the tradition by being part of the Russian State and justifying anything the regime of “Holy Russia” does both in and out of the country. What he is doing are not the actions of Christian.

    Kirill has sold his soul for a bowl of Russian pottage that will probably cost him his eternal soul.

    I think the ROCOR is going to regret reamalgamation.

  • Quartermaster

    Nah. Kirill is a heretic. He’s also a liar who is willing to justify anything the Russian State does.
    To you a Russophobe is anyone that tells the truth about what Russia is doing. Russia is not a Christian country, and Putin is no Christian either.
    You need to read what one RO priest had to say to a large gathering of Christians in the west. He seems to disagree with you on the danger of atheism. Given the drivel you post here, that isn’t surprising.

    • Quartermaster

      Since you obviously have no idea what ranting hatred is, I suggest you go look at your posts. You’ll see a ranting hatred of the truth.

      You’d be surprised how poorly educated Roman catholic priests are when it come to theology. Bergoglio is a Chemist, not a theologian.

      • Quartermaster

        I suggest you take your own advice. Also, you need to quit leaning on Wikipedia. Wikipedia has not been a serious resource for most of its life.

        Being a Theologian, i’ve had a lot of exposure to Roman catholic priests, and I’m not impressed. there have been a few good ones, but very few. Bergoglio is not one of them.

        • Quartermaster

          You need to work on your English. That post is incoherent.

          There is a corrupt government in Kyiv. That’s true of almost any government you can name. But Russia’s regime is a criminal regime that has made itself a pariah.

          So he’s the Pope. That’s as profound as saying the Pacific Ocean is an ocean. That doesn’t mean he’s doing much other than seeking influence and power.

          You need to get past Maidan. You need one in Moscow before the moral midget in the Kremlin destroys Russia.

          • Quartermaster

            Do you often laugh at nothing? Because if you find it funny that I’m trying to “tech Theology” (I think you mean tech Theology”) to Bergoglio, you are laughing at nothing since that isn’t what I’m doing.

            I don’t hate Russia. I just want you morons to quit lying and get out of Ukraine (which includes Crimea) and go home where you belong. You would be well advised to work on your English instead of being a paid troll.

          • Greg

            Crimea is under occupation by a foreign power as an illegal act. Putin has admitted he planned the invasion long before Maidan. He also admitted it was Russian troops. Citizens were whipped in the streets for opposing, by Cossack. People basically voted with a gun to their heads

            there is a report of the Human Rights Council, entitled “Problems of Crimean Residents,” still up on the president-sovet.ru website,
            which discusses the Council’s estimates of the results of the March 16
            referendum. Quoting from that report: “In Crimea, according to various
            indicators, 50-60% voted for unification with Russia with a voter
            turnout (yavka) of 30-50%.” This leads to a range of between 15
            percent (50% x 30%) and 30 percent (60% x 50%) voting for annexation.
            The turnout in the Crimean district of Sevastopol, according to the
            Council, was higher: 50-80%..

            A member of the Human Rights Council, Svetlana Gannushkina, talked about election fraud on Kanal 24 (as replayed on Ukrainian television), declaring that the Crimean vote “discredited Russia more than could be dreamed up by a foreign agent.”

          • Quartermaster

            There is an occupying Army in Crimea you dolt. Of course there is no uprising. Anyone that even looks like they will dissent disappears. that’s what a Neo-Nazi regime does to conquered territories.

          • Quartermaster

            The reality of Crimea is that of a country overrun by an occupying Army it neither invited or wanted. Crimea is suffering as a result of the Russian invasion. Dissent is not allowed there, just as it is not allowed in Moscow, and for the same reason. Putin is fearful of the result of it.

            Putin’s fear is rising because what is happening in Russia is dragging it further down. At this rate, the country will find itself in worse shape than when the Soviet State collapsed. It doesn’t help that Putin and his mafia buddies have been looting the country. Putin hated the Russian oligarchs because they were competitors, and Putin was unwilling to share.

            Go home and fix your own failing country. Ukraine was far ahead of Russia by almost any measure before your filth invaded.

          • Quartermaster

            There has been one legitimate referendum in Crimea, and that was over 20 years ago. Over half the Crimean population voted to go with Ukraine.

            The “referendum” you like was run under the prsence of an occupying Army. neo-Soviet instruments of repression have been put in place to prevent outbreaks of dissent, just as you have in Russia. The Nazis reside in Moscow, not in Kyiv, and you need to grow up and realize you can’t lie like a 4 year old who got caught getting into the candy.

            It’s time for Putin to get his Army of terrorists out of Crimea and the Donbas.

          • Quartermaster

            It’s not about outcome. Read Greg’s post which responded to your nonsense earlier. He goes into it quite well.
            Putin’s regime, the one you defend, is nothing more than a criminal enterprise. Putinstan is going down, and idiots like yourself with it.

          • Quartermaster

            The only will that was expressed in Crimea was that of an occupying power. Your lies to the contrary change nothing.

          • Quartermaster

            The only people lying is you and Putin. As I pointed out here, and elsewhere, the only will expressed in that “referendum” was that of an occupying Army. The occupying Army is not the people of Crimea, it is the Army of Russia.

            The “referendum” made Russia’s claim look even more ridiculous. I have no doubt that if Hitler had held a similar referendum in Bryansk, the result would have been in favor of the Third Reich, just as the “vote” in Crimea was in favor of Putin’s version of the Third Reich.

    • Greg

      I agree with you except for the part of atheism, which is a real sin.

      • Quartermaster

        Not certain why you would disagree on atheism. I can’t recall his name, but a RO Bishop addressed a religious conference in the west dealing with the dangers of what the west has been buying. One of those dangers was atheism. What he said was very good and I wish I had saved that article.

        • Greg

          I was looking for this article, cannot find, perhaps you can locate. I;d like to read if possible.. Thank you

          • Quartermaster

            I’d like to find it again. IIRC, I saw it about 4 years ago. I can’t even remember the guy’s name, heaven help me. I’ll see what I can do to find it, but it’s going to be tough. I like to copy and paste the text of such articles along with the link and date I copied it, but I don’t think I did that on this one, and regret it. I’ll see what I can do.

  • Greg

    The Catholic Church long ago forsake being a Christian organization. I suspect money is involved here, the paying for indulgences is a long practice of the church. A process and act that Christ would never have condoned. Martin Luther recognized the problems with these practices.

    • BadinageBoy

      …which is why the problems were fixed at the Council of Trent
      Also, could you define “Christian” so I know we’re on the same page?
      Just a couple of things that irk me.

      • Greg

        well the church worships statues, prays to graven images and so called saints. Violation of the 10 Commandments. Sells indulgences. The Pope is infallible when he sits on the throne. they believe salvation is all about works and not a free gift from God by belief you shall be saved. Has the church not been involved in illegal banking activity lately?

        The church adds to the Bible by placing Catholic tradition on par with God’s word. Catholic worship Mary.

        Pope claims to be Head of the Church, only Christ is the Head of the Church.

        Believe in Purgatory, still practice paying with money for relatives to move their dead to Heaven.

        “Sins must be expiated. This must be done in this earth through the sorrows, miseries, and trials of this life and above all through death. Otherwise the expiation must be made in the next life through fire and torments of purifying punishments” (Indulgentiarum Doctrina, I para. 2).

        The Bible shows us that the way to true remission of sins is clearly contrary to that of the way of Popes, earthly priests, absolution, and penances:

        There is nothing to support this in the Bible.

        The latest meeting between the Pope and Russian Krill the Pope seems to place all blame on Ukraine. The Pope makes no statement as to the murders and aggression of Russia invading Ukraine. The tortures and kidnappings, I could go on much more.

        Pope Francis said that people cannot be Christians without the Church, he was referring to the Catholic Church. I think I put my faith in Christ as my saviour not the Catholic church. I am an Evangelical Christian.

        As far as I can see the Catholic church is the church of the Pharisee’s

        • BadinageBoy

          Okay, from the top. (I’m a bit tired this morning, so … tracts!)

          well the church worships statues, prays to graven images and so called saints. Violation of the 10 Commandments. Sells indulgences. The Pope is infallible when he sits on the throne. they believe salvation is all about works and not a free gift from God by belief you shall be saved. Has the church not been involved in illegal banking activity lately?

          No, we don’t worship statues. Praying to the saints is actually okay (it’s asking for help, not worship). As Christ’s representative on Earth, the Pope is infallible (though only when speaking ex cathedra). The “faith without works” thing is actually a named heresy, and the Bible the Bible has something to say about faith without works. And there’s a difference between members of the Church and the Church herself (yes, I did just call the Church a she — it’s traditional, and being traditional is one of my hobbies).

          The church adds to the Bible by placing Catholic tradition on par with God’s word. Catholic worship Mary.

          There is nothing wrong with putting Tradition (with a capital T) on par with Scripture. In fact, Tradition is the only way we know what counts as Scripture and what doesn’t. The whole “worship Mary” thing is like the saints, but Mary is especially good at helping. A YouTube summary is in order.

          Pope claims to be Head of the Church, only Christ is the Head of the Church.

          The Pope acts as the Vicar of Christ, meaning that he is Christ’s representative on Earth, not Christ’s replacement. Here’s an article on the origin of the Papacy, if you’re interested.

          Believe in Purgatory, still practice paying with money for relatives to move their dead to Heaven.

          Yes, we do believe in purgatory. No, we don’t believe in pay-your-way salvation.

          The Bible shows us that the way to true remission of sins is clearly contrary to that of the way of Popes, earthly priests, absolution, and penances:

          Where?

          The latest meeting between the Pope and Russian Krill the Pope seems to place all blame on Ukraine. The Pope makes no statement as to the murders and aggression of Russia invading Ukraine. The tortures and kidnappings, I could go on much more.

          As I said earlier, the Ukrainian war was not the point of this debate. Yes, Russia is being aggressive, and yes, they really shouldn’t be doing that, but the point is to bring about unity between two churches, rather than getting involved in a divisive political fight.

          Pope Francis said that people cannot be Christians without the Church, he was referring to the Catholic Church. I think I put my faith in Christ as my saviour not the Catholic church. I am an Evangelical Christian.

          I don’t recall that, though we do believe that the most sure way to be saved is through the Church (otherwise, what would the point be?). And we put our faith in Christ as our Savior and the Church as His voice on Earth. (If that makes sense.) I for one would count you as Christian, since you obviously believe in the resurrection of Christ and salvation through Him, so I don’t think we have a problem with that.

          As far as I can see the Catholic church is the church of the Pharisee’s

          Hopefully I’ve helped you see more.

          God bless.

          • Quartermaster

            There a good bit of what you have posted that’s already been thoroughly refuted, but I will point out a couple of things.
            Prayer to saints, and all forms of hagiolotry are not OK. Such prayers do not conform to the pattern of prayer taught by Christ himself. It is also a form of contact with the dead, which is forbidden in scripture.
            Faith without works, as seen by Roman Catholcism was anathematized at Trent. Alas, that is the central theme of the book of Romans. Works follow faith (James chapter 2 is good on this), but have nothing to do with justification.
            Those two things alone are enough to uphold what Greg has said about the RCC.

          • BadinageBoy

            Prayer to saints, and all forms of hagiolotry are not OK. Such prayers
            do not conform to the pattern of prayer taught by Christ himself. It is
            also a form of contact with the dead, which is forbidden in scripture.

            As I said earlier, there’s a difference between idolatry to the saints and asking for help. It’s just easier to ask for help from the saints, since they’re already in Heaven. Please read the tract; there’s a section on this.

            As for the contact with the dead part, a section from the tract:

            Sometimes Fundamentalists object to asking our fellow Christians in
            heaven to pray for us by declaring that God has forbidden contact with
            the dead in passages such as Deuteronomy 18:10–11. In fact, he has not,
            because he at times has given it—for example, when he had Moses and
            Elijah appear with Christ to the disciples on the Mount of
            Transfiguration (Matt. 17:3). What God has forbidden is necromantic
            practice of conjuring up spirits.

            As for the faith without works thing, I actually (sort of) agree with you! Works by themselves are not salvific (if that’s the correct word), and in fact the Church had to fight this heresy (called Pelagianism) in her earliest days. However, if one simply makes a statement of belief or fact but does not act upon it, then “faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” (James 2:17) From true faith comes good works. That’s what the Church teaches.

            I hope what I’ve said makes sense. God bless.

          • Quartermaster

            Both Romans and Ephesians entirely reject works as salvific. Trent anathematized Apostle Paul’s view. Vatican II reproposed the anathemas of Trent and ratified them again, One can make the case that the RCC believes differently than what its councils propose, and it would be accurate. You won’t see hagiolotry in the catechism, for example, yet it certainly teaches it.

            Pelagianism is something different. It is the teaching that one can be saved without the grace of God – i.e. that one c an have faith with an endowment from God. Pelagius was held three times to be orthodox, (every time he was allowed to defend himself, in fact), but was still held to be heretic. Even the Bishop of Roman at the time, Zosimus, held so, but changed his ruling under imperial pressure because of bribes given to the Imperial court. Pelagius didn’t teach Pelagianism, and even his disciple, Coelestius, was ordained in the east after the Kangaroo court held by Augustine’s minions.

            Necromancy is more than just conjuring spirits, it is any contact with them at all. God made no qualifications in that regard. Prayer to saints also clashes with the pattern of prayer Christ taught the disciples. All prayer is directed to God the Father, and asking saints already gone before for help does constitute prayer. It is different than asking a fellow chirstian here on earth to intercede in prayer for you.

            I am not one of those people that reject a practice simply because it is not found in scripture. Protestants have some, such as Sunday School, you won’t find there. However, if a practice clashes with scripture, it must be rejected.

          • BadinageBoy

            I believe the appropriate Scripture verse is Romans 3:28. Yet again, a tract answers your argument. TL;DR: That specific verse refers to a heretical sect of early Christianity called the Judaizers who wanted to reinstitute the Mosaic Law into the New Covenant (hence “works of the Law”). Indeed, in the same letter (Romans 2:6-8), Paul says:
            <blockquote<6 For he will repay according to each one’s deeds: 7 to those who by patiently doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; 8 while for those who are self-seeking and who obey not the truth but wickedness, there will be wrath and fury.
            So it doesn’t clash with Scripture.

            As for necromancy, what about the Transfiguration? Moses and Elijah were definitely (physically) dead, but Jesus let James and John see and communicate with them. Also, if you think about it, if the saints are in Heaven, then they are a lot more alive than you and I are (at the moment, anyway).

            Whatever happened to Pelagius doesn’t make Pelagianism less wrong, by the way, even if it was misattributed to the person it’s named after.

          • Quartermaster

            No, it is far more than Romans 3:28. Read chapter 4. Also get into Ephesians. We can in no way earn justification. No works are salvific.
            The transfiguration is not support for your position. Christ was God and God several times said “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” In each instance it was also after the three had passed from the earthly scene. No one is dead to God in the spiritual sense since we all go to the spiritual realm after physical death.
            I hate the term Pelagianism because it is a label of a heresy which Pelagius didn’t hold. Nestorianism is the same way. Both labels are a slander.

          • BadinageBoy

            I hate the term Pelagianism because it is a label of a heresy which Pelagius didn’t hold. Nestorianism is the same way. Both labels are a slander.

            Regardless of who holds them, that’s what they are called, so I am continuing to use the terms (because that way someone who looks it up will know what I am talking about). I hope nobody minds.

            The key verse of Ephesians I’m going to assume (ACK! Assumptions!) you refer to is Ephesians 2:8-9 (RSV, if you care):

            8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God— 9 not because of works, lest any man should boast.

            But if we jump back a couple verses to 2:4-6, you get:

            4 But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,

            which makes it clear that Paul is talking about the initial grace which wipes away original sin, which is in fact undeserved by the recipient and cannot be earned through works. This is, incidentally, why the Church practices infant baptism.

            So, why not both? (If you don’t mind my cheekily inserting a stupid meme into our theological debate.)

            Why not faith and works? I mean, as the tract says, Jesus cites both faith and works (in Jn 11:25 and Mt 19:17-19, respectively), and the two aren’t mutually exclusive (you can do charitable works and be faithful at the same time).

            So I don’t see the problem here.

          • Quartermaster

            If you take the tack that James takes in James chapter 2, you get the orthodox Christian view of faith vs works. If works are the outworking of faith, then fine. If you think that works are meritorious for salvation, then you are into heresy. That’s the basic problem of Trent and why I would say that the RCC as an organization departed Christianity at the council of Trent.

            I’m like you in the use of the terms Pelagianism and Nestorianism. I use them because of their accepted meanings, even if the two men did not hold what they are accused of holding. The business with Nestorius was especially bad as it was entirely political.

            Nazianzus was correct about church councils not solving any problem.

          • BadinageBoy

            A quote from the Council of Trent:

            If any one saith, that man may be justified before God by his own works, whether done through the teaching of human nature, or that of the law, without the grace of God through Jesus Christ; let him be anathema.

            That is the exact opposite of your claim on the Council of Trent.

            Just clarifying. God bless.

          • Quartermaster

            No it does not. That is saying faith plus works for justification. Throwing in grace does not help since neither Romans or Ephesians Allow for works at all in justification.

          • BadinageBoy

            I thought I addressed that earlier.

          • Quartermaster

            And I addressed it twice now. There is a large difference between faith + works and a faith that works, as taught in James. Faith that works falls under the head of sanctification, which is a life long process.

          • BadinageBoy

            Okay, let me state this and see if it makes sense.

            Good works proceed naturally from living faith, so if there are no works coming from someone’s professed faith, then it is, as James says, dead. An extreme analogy: If someone believes that pushing a button will prevent the nuclear holocaust and said button is on his desk, but he never pushes it, it doesn’t count, right? (Also, aren’t extreme analogies fun?)

            Also, Jesus says pretty bluntly that works are a bit important at achieving salvation.

            By the way, another tract (this one from EWTN, rather than Catholic Answers) is available to answer your argument.

            Honestly, I’m not even sure we’re in disagreement.

          • Quartermaster

            I have no problem with a living faith that produces works. That’s just James 2. Works, however, have nothing to do with justification. That’s Romans. It is a matter of placing works in their proper context. Anyone that thinks they can obtain justification by what they do, is in for a very rude awakening when they stand before Christ at their final judgment.
            The last sentence in my previous post pretty much sums it up.

          • Greg

            Thank you for replying,
            I appreciate it. However I still do not agree and hold to my original thesis, that the Catholic Church is not Christian.

            The Church has idols in the building; people bow before them and pray to them, directly in violation of the second commandment.

            “You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

            As a believer in Christ we are to pray only to God, no one else including objects. I have watched people bow before these idols.

            A Christian needs no saints to pray to, for we have an intercessor, Christ Jesus, there is no other.

            This whole write up you point to is ridiculous. I can sit and pray with a friend or I can pray for them from a distance. There is no Biblical support to pray to some sort of saint? Saint a person who the Pope state holds some special power, where in the Bible supports this view?

            The Pope is a man like all other men in the world. He holds no special power to be infallible. In fact he is a sinner like all others. The belief he is infallible when he sits in some special chair or holds an office is nothing more than a cult belief.

            The problem with the Church is that it does not believe in the Bible as God’s only authoritative word. So Catholics must add their traditions and this magic chair concept and a bunch of other stuff to God’s word.

            If you tell me you are asking the dead to pray or speak to God on your behalf, I think there is a real problem with this Catholic Church thing.

            All one needs is understand Christ died for our sins, accept his gift and thank God for His mercies to us.

            I feel your reference to Mary just made things worst. We are to pray to God, Christ period, no one else. This thing of saying “Hail Mary’s” in order to have one’s sins forgiven??

            There is no purgatory mentioned in the Bible and Christ died for our sins once for all. There is no need for some other type of work.

            http://www.nowtheendbegins.com/pope-francis-says-christians-exist-outside-roman-catholic-church/

            A hokie-pokie church if you ask me! The thief on the cross was saved and not in church. Many people can be saved and yet not be in a church! Can you imagine someone living in a remote area of the world and accepting Christ, there may be no church around! I do not remember Christ stating one must be in a Church in order to be a Christian! We are told to come together to worship God, but one’s salvation is not dependent on this.

            The point of salvation is to accept Christ’s redemptive work, his death on the cross for our sins. I agree a person may not grow spiritually without the communion of fellow believers, but really the Church is not a requirement.

            How can one unify a church where its priest are KGB agents! A church that participates with the state to murder people, to invade countries, the church actually runs military training camps.

            http://euromaidanpress.com/2015/11/03/russian-orthodox-church-in-belarus-training-fighters-for-russian-world-in-special-camps/

            The Pope was used, Russia is thankful and I still strongly believe money has changed hands.

            Christ’s mother Mary, the church teaches she was without sin. Not sure how you guys dream this stuff up. Romans 3:23 states “all have sinned” in fact this thought is mentioned a few times in the Bible. So Mary must have sinned. You think Jesus could not be born through a sinner? Did not Christ state “He who is without sin”? The only sinless person lived is Christ, if there was another, then Christ’s redemptive work was not unique.

            My last point, the church through its constitution states that only a priest can properly interpret the Bible. Where is this in the Bible? Christ is open to all, as the Holy Spirit reveals truth a person can understand the Bible. I need no Priest. I agree some concepts can be hard to understand but God will reveal as a person has need.

            Lastly, I have witnessed to a number of Catholics, it is so strange to hear “I was born a Catholic” I guess because their parent was a Catholic. Also I have been told each country has a Bible which is different than other countries! It took me a while to understand they were referring to the Book of Prayers, but the person persists to believe each country has their own Bible. When showing a St. Joseph Bible, supposed to be approved by the Pope, they deny it is a Catholic Bible.

            I can accept Catholics can be confused and lack knowledge of their own beliefs and Church, but does this not indicate the Church is not performing very well to communicate its teachings? No one is born a Christian from their parents, Christ stated we must be “born again”, a second time through His work.

            We are told by Christ to test the Spirits to see if they are from God.

  • Greg

    I would like to know how much money was paid to the Pope? Sins can always be forgiven with enough coin!

  • BadinageBoy

    Hopefully, I can take the “respectful dissenter / mediator” position without looking like a jerk.

    *takes deep breaths*

    Okay, here we go.

    The Russian government under Vladimir Putin is nuts. I think we all agree with that; otherwise, we wouldn’t be looking at this website. At the same time, I do think that painting the Pope and the Patriarch as pawns is a bit much.

    The fact remains that goals happen one step at a time. For a more secular example, Angela Merkel didn’t call for Europe to crash into Russia guns blazing, but rather focused on economic sanctions, especially regarding oil. Now Russia can’t get its oil out and the Russian economy is being hit hard.

    Also, the Pope and the Patriarch are not political figures. They are religious and spiritual leaders first, and everything other goal is subservient to that. The Pope is head of the Catholic Church and the Patriarch is head of the Russian Orthodox Church, and unity between the two churches is an admirable goal. The fact that the two leaders met up in the first place is amazing

    And as for the controversial paragraph that seems to be the key to this whole debate:

    We deplore the hostility in Ukraine that has already caused many victims, inflicted innumerable wounds on peaceful inhabitants, and thrown society into a deep economic and humanitarian crisis. We invite all the parties involved in the conflict to prudence, to social solidarity, and to action aimed at constructing peace. We invite our Churches in Ukraine to work towards social harmony, to refrain from taking part in the confrontation, and to not support any further development of the conflict.

    It could be something from the Kremlin, or it could be a recognition of the fact that war is, when you get down to it, awful and should really be a weapon of last resort. (Note that I did not say “no resort”.) While the Donbass war does have a legitimate political goal (Ukraine would, in fact, like to retain its sovereignty), the Just War Doctrine of the Catholic Church (and Russian Orthodoxy, if I had to guess) says that war should be avoided if possible, and frankly, I don’t think either side really wants to be fighting this. (Except Putin and company. I’m sure they’re having fun.) And either church endorsing a side of a war makes diplomacy and the goal of the meeting — reunification — well … hard.

    It’s a messy issue, and a complicated one, but peace is an admirable goal. I hope and pray that this mess gets straightened out for the betterment of all humanity.

    • Greg

      Well he singles out the Ukraine church yet the Russian church has been very out spoken and supportive of Putin. I believe the Russian church is offering military training in Belarus. Putin has wrapped himself in the church to give himself some sort of legitimacy. The Russia church in Ukraine is supporting the war on the Russian side with much more than words.

      No I do believe the Pope has been paid by Putin for support. Putin is using this support in his propaganda.

      Russia is the aggressor, invading a peaceful country yet the Pope speaks nothing about this sin. Putin invades because of his ego. Putin is even threatening to use nuclear weapons. Peace can come by Putin getting his troops out of Ukraine and stop paying for terrorist acts in Ukraine.

      The war in Ukraine is a war initiated by Putin to punish Ukraine because the nations wants to be free and align with the EU.

    • Greg

      well the Catholic Church has always been political. If the Pope was speaking as a Christian he would have taken a stand against an unprovoked invasion of a peaceful nation. Perhaps you feel the “Just War Doctrine: enables Russia to invade Ukraine. So does Ukraine use the same principle to defeat itself? You cannot have both sides being justified for war. God does not work this way? God nor did Christ sit on a fence.

      Russian troops and Russian paid terrorists have kidnapped, tortured, steal, destroy, basically raping and pillaging a nation. I hear nothing from the Pope! Russia is bombing hospitals and schools in Syria.

      The Russian church blesses the creators of war, they bless the leaders in East Ukraine. The church has programs to train children for war. As noted before the priests have been members of the KGB,

      No the Pope goes where the money is not where God’s Spirit is!

      Like the Pharisees, the Catholic church likes walking around in fine clothes with pomp and ceremony so the world can see. I believe Christ had some very harsh words for these people.

      Many believe the church will be the source of the Anti-Christ, I am not sure but I can understand this logic.

      The Catholic church wants to unite with other churches because of power. it is not important to God if we worship in different churches as long as we worship Him and follow His word as laid out in the Bible.

      In all of Christs works and words he condemns the hypocritical church, not sinners. It is Christ who states the Pharisees have made God;s house a den of thief’s. But Christ’s words to the sinners was much more compassionate.

      Christ warns us of accepting those that look like Believers but who are really wolves seeking to devour people. We are to test the Spirits. I believe the Catholic Church fails this test.

      By the way Ukraine did nothing which Putin can use to justify his sin of murdering Ukrainians. There is no Just War from a Russia side! Ukraine is Just to defeat itself. Ukraine has not attacked outside of its borders. Ukraine has committed no crimes against anyone speaking Russian within Ukraine. God always is on ONE side, never does He fence sit! ever!