A recent article on the heroic martyrs of the Romanian Greek Catholic Church prompted online criticism from certain Eastern Orthodox Christians.
They accused FSSPX.News of being “biased,” “one sided,” and unwilling to speak honestly about the alleged failings of Romanian and other Eastern Christians in communion with the See of Rome. This is not a new phenomenon.
Whenever FSSPX.News or the other publishing outlets of the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) have addressed the fraught history of Catholic/Orthodox relations, particularly in Eastern Europe, attempts have been made to discredit these pieces, often without care to detail. It seems that some in the online Eastern Orthodox community are unaware that the SSPX, like its publishing apostolate, is a Catholic work dedicated to producing original news, commentary, and studies from an authentically Catholic perspective. Perhaps in the mind of some this makes the Society “biased,” but so be it. So long as the SSPX’s publishing ventures remain committed to factual accuracy as illumined by the Catholic Faith, they are executing their mandate faithfully.
A Sorrowful Century
There should be no dispute that 20th century brought terrible suffering to Eastern Christians regardless of their confessional commitments. The Soviet Revolution and eventual spread of atheistic Communism into Europe exacted a heavy toll on that region’s Christian communions. Millions of Russian Orthodox Christians, for instance, endured persecution, torture, and death alongside Latin and Greek Catholics. Certain nationalistic movements, divorced from the tenets of Catholicism, managed to sway some of the faithful to place “blood and soil” above the Gospel at the expense of non-Catholics, but never with the support of the magisterium. While some Orthodox enjoy pointing out the missteps of wayward Catholics, it is not now nor has ever been the duty of the SSPX to defend or excuse behavior that is not Christian.
The Society cannot turn a blind eye, however, to Eastern Orthodox complicity in the systematic destruction of the Greek Catholic Church in Eastern Europe under Communism. No amount of naysaying will coverup the 1946 pseudo-synod of Lviv where, after its hierarchy was murdered or imprisoned, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church was “reunited” with Eastern Orthodoxy under the watchful eye of both the Communists and the Russian Orthodox Church. Similarly, a litany of, “Yeah but…” or “Well, actually…” shall never erase the heroic witness for the Catholic Faith offered by the aforementioned martyrs in Romania and throughout the region in Russia, Belarus, Poland, and Hungary.
A New Century of Woes
Since the fall of the Iron Curtain in Eastern Europe, new efforts have been made to heal the Catholic/Orthodox divide, albeit without much success. The ecumenical wave that washed over the Catholic Church after the Second Vatican Council was intended, in part, to bring Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians closer together. Ironically, the confessional indifferentism that this ecumenical spirit instilled in many has prompted the more conservative wings of the Orthodox Church to question Catholic fidelity to its own teachings. Moreover, the liturgical upheaval of the Roman Rite wrought by the introduction of the Novus Ordo Missae has left a sour taste in the mouths of many Orthodox, a Christian body known for its strict adherence to liturgical tradition.
While the specter of Communism has withdrawn from Europe for now, Catholics and Orthodox alike have faced a new wave of violence in the Middle East brought on by radical Islam. Yet at the same time the Russian Orthodox Church, in concert with the Russian state, continues its centuries-long battle with Greek Catholicism by both blaming Greek Catholics for stalling “ecumenical progress” with Rome and supporting Russia’s illegal war in Ukraine. Sadly, neither the Vatican nor Pope Francis himself has given Greek Catholics the support they deserve despite the Greek Catholic Church’s steady resurgence in its historic lands over the past two decades.
The SSPX, in the spirit of its founder Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, continues to speak the truth on these and all other matters pertaining to Catholic life and the Faith regardless of how “inconvenient” or “unwanted” its voice may be for those who would use history as an ideological weapon. Without wishing to silence thoughtful discussion, the Society’s publishing apostolate’s mission will not be curtailed by misdirected and ill-conceived criticism. The SSPX, like the Universal Church of which it is a part, is not and shall never be a handmaiden of earthly powers dedicated to leveraging Christianity for mundane purposes. That this reality may confuse and upset some Eastern Orthodox is, regrettably, unsurprising.