So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter (2 Thess. 2:15). Guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid the godless chatter and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge, for by professing it some have missed the mark as regards faith (1 Tim. 6:21-22).

FSSP Ordinations - 8am Pacific Time Friday May 26th

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Francis in Georgia: an unfriendly greet.

An historical grudge based on unfounded theological disputes and untenable political games plays out again and again in the world of the national eastern churches.

Reuters reports.
Orthodox shun pope's Mass in Tbilisi, few Catholics turn out
By Philip Pullella and Margarita Antidze | TBILISI
Pope Francis on Saturday said Mass for unusually small crowd of just a few thousand Catholics in Georgia, a celebration that was further dampened when a delegation from the Orthodox Church stayed away.
Ex-Soviet Georgia is overwhelmingly Orthodox Christian and less than 1 percent of the population is Catholic, according to government figures.
Still, organizers were hoping for a much bigger turnout than the some 3,000 people who came to the Mass at a stadium in the capital that has a capacity of 25,000.
It was one of the smallest crowds ever seen at an outdoor papal Mass on Francis' 16 foreign trips so far.
In another setback, a delegation representing the Patriarch of the Georgian Orthodox Church, Ilia II, that the Vatican had expected to come to the worship service, did not show up.
Two days before the pope arrived, Ilia issued a statement saying Orthodox could not attend Catholic Masses because of doctrinal differences dating back to the 1054 schism that divided Christianity into eastern and western branches. (Doctrinal differences insurmountable only to the minds of those who have not assessed objectively the historical-theological record nor kept up with official Catholic/Orthodox theological dialogues.)
"We accept their decision (not to come)," said Vatican spokesman Greg Burke.
Under Francis, who was elected in 2013, the Vatican has made a concerted effort to improve relations with Orthodox Christians, who number around 250 million worldwide, in the hopes of an eventual reunion.
Screenshot/Al Jazeera

Earlier this year, he held a historic meeting with Kirill, the patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church.
The Georgian Orthodox Church is one of the more conservative (obstinately uncharitable? unforgiving? communities) in the Orthodox world.
Some of (sic) members have followed the pope since he arrived on Friday to protest against the visit.
A small group (on several occasions, if one believes the photographs) held up signs outside the stadium reading: "Vatican is a spiritual aggressor" and "Pope, arch-heretic, you are not welcome in Orthodox Georgia." (One can imagine mixed feelings among sedevacantists right now.)
The pope met Patriarch Ilia after his arrival on Friday and was due to have another meeting with him on Saturday night. Francis leaves on Sunday for overwhelmingly Muslim Azerbaijan. He returns to Rome on Sunday night.
Kudos to the Holy Father for trying to build bridges. Pope Francis, like Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Saint John Paul II, and Blessed Pope Paul VI, has left his offering at the altar (St. Matthew 5:24) and run to our brothers in Christ in an attempt to effect reconciliation. The Council of Florence failed because local believers in eastern lands rejected the work of their hierarchs to heal the breach between the Catholic Church and the eastern national churches.

Given Orthodox antipathy toward the Vicar of Christ, the Bishop of Rome and Head of the Church, let us pray for Francis' safe return to Rome.

It's highly unfortunate that Georgian Christians of the nationalistic variety, i.e., those belonging to the "state church", especially those banner carrying Georgian Orthodox, have not done their homework to understand that the eastern national churches made themselves the first protestants when they rejected the authority of the divinely appointed Office of Peter. Charges that the Pope is an "arch-heretic" ring hollow when viewed against Sacred Scripture, the witness of the Church Fathers and the historical record.
Thanks be to God for those easterners who returned to the Catholic fold over the centuries!

As for a dearth of Catholics at the Georgian Papal Mass in Tbilisi: perhaps in this instant the Holy Father might reflect on his statements of late which have caused faithful Catholics to pause.

To conclude on a positive note, the Holy Father did reiterate in no uncertain terms the Church's teaching on marriage and adultery:
Francis, seen as progressive on some issues, also used his Georgian visit to defend the indissolubility of marriage.
He said adultery is inspired by "the Devil" and urged anyone tempted to betray their spouse to "seek immediate help".
"We must do everything to save a marriage," said Francis, defining divorce as an affront to God that makes children suffer, and insisting that "three magic words" - excuse me, thank you and sorry - can relieve marital strife.—Al Jazeera

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