Friday, July 21, 2006

Anti-WR Byzantines Are Also Pro-Vatican II, '79 BCP

The fact that the Roman Catholic Church jettisoned 1,900 years of its liturgical heritage at Vatican II should be a major problem for Orthodox-RCC rapproachment, though only a few "throwback" RCCs and Western Rite Orthodox ever mention it. To my doleful surprise, I found -- to the contrary -- some Byzantines have applauded this liturgical order to bash the Western Rite!

A Fr. Michael Johnson (no relation, to my knowledge) of the Greek Church, in a polemical article he wrote to demean the Western Rite Orthodox, claims, it would be "ludicrous for the Orthodox to tell the Roman Catholics" that "revisions made by Vatican II to the Roman anaphora...were somehow misguided." He then praises the 1979 Book of Common Prayer -- the one that allows for the ordination of women, the one that has an entire Communion Rite that could be a happy-clappy revival service -- saying, "Many of the recent revisions to the Book of Common Prayer (as with the Roman Missal) have been based on sound liturgical scholarship."

He continues:

Furthermore, since both of these "western-rite" liturgies are being celebrated in "King James" English, are we telling the Christians of the various western confessions that modern English is unacceptable as a liturgical language? This, in spite of the fact that modern English is now used in many translations of the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom?
If you want to tell the Byzantines this, be my guest.

I wonder: have others encountered this sentiment from Byzantine Orthodox, or does it only rear its head when they're attacking their own?

Incidentally, Fr. Michael's arguments against the WRV are expertly answered by the paper "Lux Occidentalis," written by Fr. John Connely, Archpriest. And as I always hasten to point out, not all Greeks, much less all Byzantines, are hostile to the Western Rite.



Blogger James the Thickheaded said...


The date at the bottom of the article is ten years old. Is this still relevant: lots of folks change their minds over a ten year period. Would love to know whether this is really an issue any more, or simply beating a dead horse? Looks like the latter to me.

5:55 AM  
Blogger americanorthodox said...

No, I have not run into this before, but then, western rite is something that just never comes up. And here, where we have nearly as many Byzantines as Orthodox, Byzantine means Byzantine Catholic. Knowing quite a few and having been to weddings, etc., I am probably guilty of the counterpart attitude: I just don't understand why they aren't Orthodox. They are Orthodox. They're indistinguishable from the Orthodox.

7:08 AM  
Blogger Ben Johnson said...

James, it is the WRV's harshest critics who beat the dead horse -- recycling discredited assertions, citing out-of-context quotations from various people (e.g., Fr. Schmemann), etc. This priest very much still believes what he wrote, and I've heard this argument more recently than ten years ago. But I appreciate the charitable assumption that I'm "beating a dead horse." Thanks, bro. :)

AO, I'd never thought about "Byzantines" indicating "Byzantine Catholics."

God bless,

8:33 AM  
Blogger Father Aristibule Adams said...

Its because they consider the Russians and Antiochians to be in error for using 'King James' liturgical English. It is a double edged slam - slam the WR explicitly, get the Russians and Antiochians at the same time implicitly.

That, and it reflects the liberal tendency of some, I think. (The same that want to do to Orthodoxy what they've seen the ECUSA do - and what some 'revolutionaries' in the RCC are pushing for.)

8:12 AM  
Blogger Ben Johnson said...

Ari, good insight. There are some Greeks who use more dignified translations, some less; likewise the OCA (though more tending to "modern English" than the King's English).

Thanks for pointing out that there are those who want something like a Vatican II for Orthodoxy; God preserve us! I seem to see a number of converts who support this, esp. fmr. charismatics who seem to think "the Spirit" is leading somewhere else. They never tell you which spirit, though....

I'm happy their number is few, and the Church will weather them.

3:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One problem I have noticed with Greek Archdiocese translations into English is that, while the Greeks really know liturgical Greek, they do not really know English or even contemporary English very well. Hence, their the translations are as bad as ICEL English or even worse. (Also, I keep wondering when St. John Chrysostom will be translated into contemporary Greek -- to my knowledge, this has never been canonically approved.)

Finally, I have to applaud the Antiochians for trusting a women from Middlesboro, Kentucky with thier original English translations. Isabel's only bad patch seems to be "Holy things are for the Holy." Somehow the Saxon "things" just doesn't seems right there, though "that which is holy for those which are holy," may not be any better.


6:34 PM  

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