Fictitious monsters have always held a fascination–no more so than that fictitious monster, Triumphalist Roman Papalism. I will leave it to historians to argue whether or not there was ever such a monster, but today–believe me when I say this folks–there is no such animal.
Nevertheless, I am amazed at the power this mythology has even to skew modern ecumenical relationships. You can’t start a healthy relationship on an “hermeneutic of suspicion” (“you speak with forked tongue!”). Dialogue requires a relationship of trust.
I can partly understand the long ancenstoral memories of those whose fathers’ fathers, and whose fathers’ fathers’ fathers, and whose fathers’ fathers’ fathers’ fathers (you get the idea) remember some atrocity committed by this ancient monster. Yet, even those who have no personal stake in this history (eg. recent converts to Orthodoxy) seem more than eager to adopt the full mythology and paradigm of the world which includes this horrible monster.
Fr Christopher Orr (born and raised Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran and received into Orthodoxy in 2001) is a case in point. In a recent comment on a previous blog, Fr Orr stated:
Whatever positive, inclusive, friendly steps have been taken in the past decades – and they have been honestly taken, I think, in the main – there is a long history of RC abuse and domination that is well-remembered by the Orthodox and Protestants. Time will need to go by to ensure that positive language is not simply a marketing ploy, a bait and switch; until Rome can come to a dogmatic determination that is more in line with your explanation of Vatican I and II, most will simply fear not what this or the most recent Pope’s have said or done, but what future ones may do with their dogmatically unfettered power.
Oh, Christopher. That is really unworthy of you. A “marketing ploy”? A “bait and switch”? What future popes “may do with their dogmatically unfettered power”? Good grief. I know (as my Mother-in-law keeps on telling me) that the Pope and bishops of the Catholic Church are “only men”, but please–they are are at least men of charity and justice, and of integrity.
Beware the hermeneutic of Suspicion, my friends! It will be the undoing of us all!