Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Unia are Dangerous

Though often used with derision, which is not intended here, the term Unia refers to many historically Orthdox Churches who, following the Councils of Florence and Ferrara in the mid-1400s, decided to remain Orthodox in their outward signs such as vestments, chanting and rituals but Catholic in their theology and dogma. These churches agreed to recognize the Pope as the Head of the Church (rather than Christ) and to adopt the Pope's heresies. Hence, these churches, largely to be found in Ukraine, some parts of Greece and the Middle East are called Uniates because they are in union with Rome.

For years, especially since Vatican II and the papacy of John Paul II, the Unia were trumpeted and heralded as a great example of how unity with the Orthodox Churches could be accomplished. The Orthodox could retain their rituals, their praxis, their outward signs of the faith, but would recognize the headship of Rome. This has been routinely denounced as not an acceptable means to true unity, even by His All-Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch VARTHOLOMAIOS I, himself an ecumenist with the papists. But the Vatican is an expert at diplomatic intrigue and negotiation. Once upon the time such honors were bestowed upon the Byzantine Empire, which held off its own destruction for centuries due to its diplomatic cunning. How times have changed.

Pope Benedict XVI is scheduled to make a trip to Cyprus later this week. He was invited by the President of Cyprus and so it would seem that Benedict XVI is traveling there only in his capacity as head of the Vatican State which is one of his titles. However, while there, he will be meeting with the Roman Catholic faithful and be celebrating the Liturgy in a few stadiums. The problem is that the Catholics of Cyprus are Uniates, i.e. look Orthodox but are in full union with the Pope. The Holy Synod of Cyprus is rightly alarmed by the Pope's visit, but member bishops have been threatened with removal from the synod for a year by the head of the Church of Cyprus, Archbishop CHRYSOSTOMOS II. These bishops realize that the Pope will be celebrating Liturgy according to the Eastern Rite alongside these uniates, a number of them from the Middle East, which will create the illusion that there were joint prayer (i.e. ecumencial) services with the Orthodox. The media can't discern between Uniates and Orthodox from outward signs because there is no outward difference and then again, for the media, the existence of an Orthodox Church is basically ALL they know about the Orthodox Church. Watch the 60 Minutes show on Patriarch VARTHOLOMAIOS I to see how the media can only picture the Orthodox through a papal lens.

Metropolitan Paul of Kyrenia, a member of the Holy Synod of Cyprus says the following:

The Roman Catholics once again proved to be excellent diplomats. As made evident in the daily Press, they had arranged the Pope's schedule in such a manner that - by means of worship congregations, especially the one that will take place in the closed stadium of Nicosia where Roman Catholic clergy from the Middle East will be present - confusion will ensue among the pious Orthodox of Cyprus, who are not in a position to discern the Uniates. Seeing them participate in the ritual, dressed in Orthodox vestments, it is certain that they will be misled and scandalized, by perceiving them to be Orthodox clergy. It is also not precluded that many foreign Press agencies - also fooled by the external appearance of the Uniates - will erroneously transmit the news that it is common prayer with "all of the Eastern Orthodox Churches". The attempts of the Vatican to exploit the opportunity and present the Pope as the leader of Christianity and the entire world is very obvious.

He is right. The Unia are dangerous and are in existence only to lure the Orthodox faithful away from the Holy Orthodox Church, the One, Holy, Catholic Church and bring them to the Papacy of the Roman Catholics. Beware of wolves in sheep's clothing as the old fable goes. That is what the Unia are--wolves in sheep's clothing.

There is talk, just talk at this point, that there may be an ecumenical council sometime in the future. We've not had one for over 1000 years, but it's time for one. Hopefully, if such were to occur, the issue of how to deal with the Unia and its dangers would be on the agenda.

This situation in Cyprus represents the dangers not only of the Unia but the Vatican and why we, as Orthodox, should be very much on guard against modern ecumenism, whether with Papists or Protestants.


  1. The numbers I've read say that most of the Catholics on Cyprus are Filipino immigrants or Maronites. I can't find anything on Greek Catholics there. The press packages also speak of Mass and not a Divine Liturgy. So I expect it will either be a Maronite services (which doesn't look anything like a Divine Liturgy) or a standard Roman Mass.

    On the matter of Greek Catholics and theology... I can only point to the Vatican II call for a return to authentic Eastern theology and liturgical practices, to the fact that the Pittsburgh metropolia's seminary is staffed with many Orthodox professors, and to the works of people like Abp. Zoghby in saying that there is an attempt to return to their historic theology.

    On the matter of a council to deal with the Greek Catholic Churches there have been meetings between Orthodox and Catholics on dealing with the issue. The Orthodox jurisdictions have established protocols for this sort of thing. Beyond forced conversions as seen in Soviet times, I'm not sure they can be made to go away.

  2. Would not Maronites fall under the umbrella of the Unia. They use Eastern liturgical forms (though not explicitly the Liturgies of St. John Chrysostom) but are still in full communion with Rome.

    Despite the Maronites that are on Cyprus, a number of bishops will be present from all around the region, many of whom will be Greek Catholics. That is the cause for concern by Metropolitan PAUL.

  3. Dude, go to the Ukranian Catholic church in South Omaha, and you'll see how "dangerous" the Eastern Rite Catholics are. Their entire liturgy is in Slavonic, and the youngest of the folks who attend there are in their '60s. The people we met there when we visited about, oh, 10 years ago were some of the sweetest old folks I had ever met. But their church (like many Eastern Rite Catholic Churches in the US) is probably going to die off because the younger generation went to the Latin Rite.

    By the way...the Unia never agreed to all of the theology of the Roman Catholic Church. They still say the creed without the "filioque", and basically the agreement that they have with the Roman church is, from what I can tell, "we agree to disagree."

    At any rate, if you went to the only "Unia" church in Omaha (the Ukranian Catholic Church in south Omaha which is located in what was the original St. John the Baptist Greek Church) you would see that the folks there are as "dangerous" as a kindly grandmother.

  4. Dude,

    I don't know you so please don't refer to me with such informal banter reserved for friends.

    I'm aware of the Ukranian Catholic Church here in Omaha and I confess I've never been. I know that many eastern Catholics do not use the "filioque" and a lot of them do. I know that outwardly, their praxis is very much our own.

    My criticism in my little piece is not directed towards the eastern catholics; it's towards the papacy who use and promote the Unia as a way for East and West to be unified, provided such occurs under the headship of Rome and the EO will never compromise that the papacy (in modern form) is heresy. But, not once did I malign people who are Eastern Catholic; I suggest you read it again.

    But, one of these days, I think I shall go out there just to see it for myself, though I don't know quite where it is. Just curious, are you a parishioner there? If this is an invite, I will take you up on it. Thank you.

  5. No contemporary Greek Catholic church can be tracked to the council of Ferrara, but to much later dates:Brest, Ujgorod, Alba Iulia etc.

  6. "I know that outwardly, their praxis is very much our own."
    I am a Greek Catholic whose ancestors likely received the Byzantine Slavonic rite during the Pannonian mission of Saints equal to the Apostles. Let me assure you that our praxis is very much our own.

  7. Anonymous,

    I assume you meant, "Let me assure you that our praxis [i.e. Greek Catholic] is very much your own [Orthodox]." Am I correct?

  8. No you are not correct. My point is that our practice is what is has been since the very beginning of Byzantine Slavonic Christianity. Our practice very much belongs to us. Perhaps you did not mean to contradict this reality when you made the remark that I quoted. Nevertheless, it bears pointing out and repeating: our praxis is very much our own.