Want to learn more about the roots of our Catholic faith? Check out our latest book from Mike Aquilina, available here.
Want to learn more about the roots of our Catholic faith? Check out our latest book from Mike Aquilina, available here.
Oklahoma native Father Ray Ryland, Ph.D., J.D., was an Episcopal clergyman from 1950–1963. In 1963 he was received with his wife, Ruth, and their five children into the Catholic Church. Twenty years later, he was ordained to the priesthood of the Catholic Church, with a dispensation from the rule of celibacy under the Pastoral Provision.
Fr. Ryland served as a naval officer in WWII, as professor of theology at the University of San Diego from 1969–1991, and as adjunct professor of theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville from 1991–1994 and 1998–2000. He has been chaplain and board member of Catholics United for the Faith and the Coming Home Network International for over a decade.
His exciting journey to Catholicism is detailed in his newly released memoir, Drawn from Shadows Into Truth, now available from Emmaus Road Publishing.
A fascinating autobiography in the spirit of Bl. John Henry Newman, Drawn from Shadows Into Truth: A Memoir is the captivating narrative of Father Ryland’s quest for Jesus Christ and the One Church He founded is a spiritual and intellectual adventure—from a poor Oklahoma farm boy to a naval officer to a Protestant minister to a Harvard lawyer to a married Catholic priest with five children, twenty-two grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Pick it up, and you’ll be unable to put it down!
For almost 20 years, Rita (Born Margherita Lotti) patiently prayed for the conversion of her husband, who persistently abused her. After her husband was murdered, this saintly woman eventually entered a religious community in the Augustinian tradition. Rita died on this day in 1457 and was canonized by Pope Leo XIII in 1900.
Whatever our primary vocations may be, Rita’s example demonstrates prayerful long-suffering we would do well to imitate. But, in particular, those experiencing trouble in their marriages find a friend in this powerful intercessor. Let us ask St. Rita to intervene at the throne of God for all those struggling with difficult situations in their married life.
St. Rita, pray for us!
More than half a decade after its publication, The Fulfillment of All Desire is still introducing readers to the spiritual treasury of the Church’s teaching on prayer. One of those readers, Brett Metzler, credits Ralph Martin’s book with leading him to the seminary.
Now a seminarian at St. Joseph’s in Covington, LA, Metzler learned how to articulate his desire for God and discern a call to the priesthood while reading Fulfillment during his college years.
CBS Dallas/Fort Worth published a lovely article on Metzler’s experience as a seminarian. Read the full story here.
In addition to the Patriarch Bartholomew’s presence, other Orthodox prelates similarly excited media comment with their attendance at Pope Francis’ installation.
This was particularly true of the Metropolitan Hilarion Aleyev of Volokolamsk, who represented the Patriarch of Moscow, Kyril, and has been in charge of the Russian Orthodox Church’s ecumenical affairs. He is well known in Rome and had often met with Pope Benedict and given important addresses encouraging Catholics and Orthodox to become allies in a common struggle to recover Europe’s Christian patrimony. He has spelled out in realistic terms the common ground that exists for Catholic-Orthodox cooperation:
They are first and foremost the challenges of a godless world, which is equally hostile today to Orthodox believers and Catholics, the challenge of moral corruption, family decay, the abandonment by many people in traditionally Orthodox countries of the traditional family structure, liberalism in theology and morals, which is eroding the Christian community from within. I would like to stress, once more, that there are well-known doctrinal differences between the Orthodox and Catholic faiths, but there are also common positions in regard to morality and social issues which today, are not shared by many of the representatives of liberal Protestantism…Therefore, cooperation is first and foremost necessary between the Orthodox and Catholic Christians—and that is what I call a strategic alliance. (quoted in Inside the Vatican, March 2013)
It is the doctrinal differences between the Catholic and 15 or so Orthodox Churches marking a formal Schism developing since the 13th century which have impeded hopes for Reunion. The patriarch Bartholomew disappointed Catholics and many ecumenical observers when in an address at Georgetown University he spoke with some exaggeration of an “ontological difference” between Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy.
In Rome for the installation of the new Pope, Metropolitan Hilarion joined Patriarch Bartholomew in expressing his pleasure for “the positive momentum that we have had with Pope Benedict XVI and will continue under Pope Francis.” Yet he has also expressed traditional Russian suspicions of the Jesuits (Pope Francis is a Jesuit) who were defamed by the great novelist Dostoevsky and other Russian polemicists. He also expressed the standard Russian resentment of “Uniatism” and any Vatican approval that might be given for the expansion of Byzantine rite Ukranian Catholics into the Eastern Ukraine and for the establishment of a patriarchate long desired by them.
Significant progress towards resolving the question of the Papacy as the major dogmatic impediment to the Reunion of the Churches may be said to have occurred at the Conference of the Joint International Catholic-Orthodox Theological Commission that took place at Ravenna, Italy, in 2007.
Though refusing to admit that the Petrine Primacy was of divine institution (as held by Catholics), the Orthodox delegates by majority vote admitted in a draft-document that the Pope from the earliest centuries of the Church exercised not only a primacy of honor as the “first of bishops” but one of leadership over the Eastern Churches that was conferred and sanctioned by conciliar canons.
However, the draft-document was immediately subjected to criticism by the largest of the approximately15 unique Orthodox Churches. Russian Orthodox representatives insisted that a primacy on the level of the Universal Church is necessary but could only be one of honor and not of jurisdiction as claimed by the Pope.
The Conference was also marred by Moscow’s representatives abruptly walking out of the Conference because of a continuing jurisdictional dispute with Constantinople over an Orthodox group in Estonia. Moscow delegates also sharply rejected the notion widely spread in the media (and even in some Orthodox circles) that the Patriarch of Constantinople known for his ecumenical efforts was the “spiritual leader” or “head” of all Orthodox. As Metropolitan Hilarion later repeated, “We respect the Patriarch of Constantinople as the first in honor, but we are against viewing him as ‘Pope of the East.’”
There has been resentment by Russian Orthodox spokesmen at what they consider to be Constantinople’s uncanonical interference with parishes in Estonia, Hungary, England, and North America. Other Orthodox voices have joined to assert for the benefit of Western observers believing the “ecumenical patriarch” was the Eastern counterpart of the Pope that Bartholomew has no authority whatsoever over the other autocephalous Churches; he is only the “first among equals.”
It should be recalled that a number of Greek Orthodox theologians and monastics have for years denounced Patriarch Bartholomew for trying to “drag the Orthodox into union with Rome “and have rejected the Ravenna document for “concessions” to Papal Rome. The Patriarch Bartholomew was accused of “pouring forth love on heretical Rome” and furthering the “ecumenist heresy.” There is little doubt that the Patriarch’s ecumenical overtures are in part due to attempts to enhance his influence. The Patriarchate of Constantinople exists in a sorry political situation with its Greek population reduced to 3,000 in number and constantly harassed by a hostile Turkish government betraying an increased Islamist presence. This calls for the sympathy and moral support of Catholics.
Catholics can only welcome efforts on the part of various Orthodox prelates and theologians seeking to respond with some objectivity to Bl. Pope John Paul II’s famous call for a “patient and fraternal dialogue” on the nature and exercise of his Petrine primacy in the Church.
The various meetings of the International Theological Commission of Catholic and Orthodox theologians have resulted in real theological progress that is promising for the future. Previous doctrinal issues such as the Filioque and the use of Unleavened bread are no longer seen as obstacles to Reunion. However, there is the painful matter of ethnic tensions and jurisdictional conflicts existing among them which prevent common action and doctrinal agreement. The patriarchates of Constantinople and Moscow each accuse the other of “self-aggrandizement” and wishing to extend its authority over other Churches.
The key problem remaining for all the Orthodox Churches is how lacking a coherent and accepted ecclesiology concerning authority in the Church, they can even arrive at common and “official” agreements for future dialogue with Catholics concerning the Roman Primacy.
Today is the feast of St. Catherine of Siena, a Doctor of the Church and beloved patroness of Italy, nurses, firefighters, and those afflicted with illnesses–among many other people, things, and places.
As a bit of trivia for her feastday, can you answer where St. Catherine’s remains are located?
Click under comments to see the answer. St. Catherine of Siena, pray for us!
Visit Audible.com or iTunes to download the audio version of bestseller Navigating the Interior Life. It can also be purchased directly through Emmaus Road Publishing here at our website. Narrated by Greg Willits, Navigating is a presentation by author Dan Burke on what spiritual direction is, what our “spiritual blindspots” are and how we can become aware of them, and how to fully receive all the spiritual riches offered by Christ.
James Likoudis is president emeritus of Catholics United from the Faith. He is also the author of many books, including Ending the Byzantine Greek Schism.
One of the most intriguing events during the installation of Pope Francis as Bishop of Rome and 266th successor of the Apostle Peter was the unprecedented appearance of the well-known Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I. As one Greek Orthodox commentator noted, echoing much of the world media’s coverage:
“For the first time in history, a Bishop of Constantinople attended the installation of a Bishop of Rome. And this is a profoundly bold step in ecumenical relations between the Orthodox and the Roman Catholics, one that could have lasting significance. . . . It is an extraordinary event in the history of Christianity. And it is significant for reasons far beyond its novelty.
“First and foremost it is a powerful symbolic gesture for the cause of Christian Unity. . . . The Christian world has been divided for so long that the establishment of an authentic reunion will require courage, leadership, and humility. It will require a common faith and concerns. Given Pope Francis’ well-documented work for social justice and his insistence that globalization is detrimental to the poor, it would appear as though the Orthodox and the Roman Catholic traditions have a renewed opportunity to work collectively on issues of mutual concern. With our Lord’s assistance, that common cause can be transformed into more substantive theological work. But such work requires a first step and it would appear as though Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew is willing to take such a step.” (George E.Demacopoulos, Ph.D., of the Orthodox Christian Studies Center, Fordham University)
The Patriarch had long expressed his hopes for the reconciliation of the Catholic and 15 or so Orthodox Churches. It is to be noted that for post-graduate studies he himself had studied in Rome at the Pontifical Oriental Institute.
He had developed friendly contacts with Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI and on one important occasion exchanged the kiss of peace with Benedict on the latter’s concluding the liturgy in a Catholic church in Istanbul. Upon Benedict XVI’s resignation, the Patriarch praised him as an eminent theologian and promotion of Christian values throughout the world and intrepid worker for Christian Unity. “We Orthodox will always honor him as a friend to our Church and a faithful servant to the sacred cause of everyone’s unity.”
Both Bartholomew and Benedict had signed an important joint statement in 2006 encouraging an International Theological Commission made up of leading Catholic and Orthodox theologians to step up the efforts for greater doctrinal dialogue and understanding.
The Patriarch’s warm sentiments towards the new Pope were personally conveyed in greetings the day after Francis’ installation. In the Clementine Hall of the Vatican Apostolic Palace Pope Francis responded to the Patriarch’s message, calling Bartholomew “my brother Andrew” (a reference to the great honor paid by the church of Constantinople to their patron saint, the Apostle Andrew, Peter’s brother). While at the Vatican, Patriarch Bartholomew invited Pope Francis to join him in a pilgrimage to Jerusalem to mark the 50th year of the historic meeting there between Pope Paul VI and the Patriarch Athenagoras. Upon returning to Turkey, he told reporters that he saw the possibility for reunion between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches even if it “will probably not happen during my life.”
What response have other Orthodox clergy had to the installation of Pope Francis? What are the practical limitations of ecumenical dialogue at this juncture? Read Likoudis’ conclusions next week in the second installment of this article.