AMERICAN BYZANTINE CATHOLIC RESEARCH CENTER 1334 RAMONA DRIVE, MOUNT SHASTA CA 96067 #361 AUGUST 2014 STRENGTH IN UNITY STRENGTH IN UNITY In selecting the Twelve Apostles, Our Lord established the foundation of Church leadership for the One Church. By the actions of the Twelve Apostles we can best understand Our Lord’s instructions for the management of the Universal Church. Our Lord’s instructions to the Apostles were conducted over a three year period. The teachings of the Church, mostly in parables, were to accommodate the world’s full growth of the One Church forever. Each Apostle received the complete teachings and was instructed to “go forth and make disciples of all.” Each Apostle as they travelled in all directions became the Leader of the individual Church founded. Our Lord was fully aware that the Apostles would be challenged by the differences of the newly baptized Christians and to assist the Apostles one of them was appointed to be the unifying Apostle. Peter, the Pope, was to be the leader and the person ultimately responsible for Church Unity. The Twelve Apostles journeyed and Apostolic Particular Churches were founded. Rome, in the West, was deeply challenged by the Caesars of the time and, in fact, all Twelve Apostles, except for John, were martyred as a result of their establishing Christian Churches in various lands. The West (Rome) was especially challenging because of the Roman Empire’s centralized power and their mechanism of military control. While the West was being persecuted badly, the East recognizing the need for Church Unity conducted the Ecumenical Councils and further defined the management organization that would best serve Our Lord’s instructions. During this period of working together, many great accomplishments were completed including the preparation of the Holy Bible to be used as the teaching instrument worldwide. The compilation of the Profession of Faith, the Nicene Creed, was to be the acknowledgement for all Christians. The first canons of the One Church were promulgated in the Eastern Churches (Orthodox). The many challenges from both within and from outside of the One Church were successfully countered by the wisdom exhibited in the Ecumenical Councils of the first millennium. Most importantly, the authority to the Patriarchs established by Our Lord Jesus Christ in “founding” Apostolic Particular Churches, Sui iuris, became the procedure of unlimited “evangelization.” The entirety of the Ecumenical Councils of the first millennium was conducted in the East and always with full respect to the position of Peter as the unifying Apostle, the Pope. The founders of the Apostolic Churches were to be the Patriarchs of the newly established Particular Churches and soon they organized into Major Sees for purposes of protocol. Four Major Sees were established in the East and one major See (Rome) in the West. The Order of Precedence amongst the Patriarchs of the Five Major Sees was established in the second Ecumenical Council, the First Council of Constantinople (381) and re-confirmed in the eighth Ecumenical Council, the Fourth Council of Constantinople (869-870). It was in the East where the Orthodox Patriarchs established the Order of Preference where Rome (West) was first, followed by Constantinople, Antioch, Alexandria, and Jerusalem. The Orthodox Patriarchs were always in compliance with Our Lord’s instructions and especially when the Pope was absent in the first eight Ecumenical Councils. When the Apostolic Roman Church came into their power during the second half of the first millennium, and her primacy carried great strength, many decisions were being unilaterally interpreted and developed. The wise counsel of the other four Major Sees (the East) was becoming less important to the See of Rome (the West). New interpretations some differing from the Early Fathers interpretations were being promulgated in the West without counsel from the East. The Strength of Unity was being diminished. For the entirety of the second millennium, the See of Rome was singularly active in the works of the Ecumenical Councils. The Eastern Apostolic Particular Churches in their four Major Holy Sees held strongly to their interpretations of the Lord’s Teachings, the Early Fathers and the first millennium Ecumenical Councils. The One Church continued forward but separated. The Strength of Unity was lost. The Protestant Reformation came from within the Roman Church. Manmade mandates arose. Christianity was severely divided. Other religions observed the weakening of the Catholic Church and wars became their initial way of controlling people, nations, and the misuse of other religions also became the foundation for constant war. The second millennium disasters were, in too many cases, the result of a lack of Church Unity, Christian Churches’ Unity. Today, the Synod of Bishops embarks on an opportunity to restore Church Unity. The obstacles, the baggage, are immense. As a member of one of the Eastern Churches who has returned to Unity, the second millennium of Roman bishops mistreating of my Apostolic Particular Church is proof that Church Unity will require a miracle. The Roman bishops, collectively and independently, have created un-Christian obstacles to overcome. In reminding myself of those actions, I am saddened by the possibility of failure by the members of the Synod of Bishops who will not fully comprehend the past wrongs that must eventually be corrected. The wrongs seem unlimited. In 863 when our Slavic Apostles, Saints Cyril and Methodius, missioned our Church in Eastern Europe, they were immediately jailed by the local Roman bishops. This lack of knowledge and compassion by the Roman bishops continued for a millennium. In the United States, the Roman bishop’s treatment of Father Alexis Toth (1890’s), the USA Roman bishops’ demand for the Bullas Ea semper (1907) and Cum data fuerit (1929) (an illegal denial of a papal-approved canon of the Eastern Churches who returned to unity with the Romans), the 1998 Pope John Paul’s agreement with our Sui iuris Metropolitan Judson Procyk to implement our canon of a married and celibate clergy was opposed by Roman bishops and they quickly overrode Pope John Paul II’s agreement. The actions of the second millennium actions against the faithful Eastern Catholics are legendary concerning every Eastern Church that returned to Church Unity with the Pope. The Roman decision to remove the title of Patriarch for the Roman Catholic Apostolic Church in 2012 indicates that the Roman Church will take whatever action necessary to continue their inability to attain the Strength of Unity and thereby requiring more miracles. The history of the second millennium for the Roman Catholic Church is filled with great accomplishments, martyrs, and saints, but also overloaded with un-Catholic actions. In the Synod of Bishops for Church Unity that will total two hundred fifty participants, more or less, there will have to be men and women of unbelievable wisdom and strength to fully understand that the second millennium beginning with the Great Schism of 1054 includes a thousand years of human mistakes. My Orthodox brothers are with Catholic sacraments and they pray that you will meet the challenges that your bishops will impose. Church Unity of all Christians will provide "a strength” necessary “to go forth and make disciples of all” and attain Peace on Earth. Truly, all Christians pray for your success because it is their prayerful wish and desire. GOD IS WITH US GO WITH GOD Joseph P. Bonchonsky
Joseph Bonchonsky,
Aug 30, 2014, 10:31 AM