Theological Differences

Is it true that the Eastern Catholic Churches are allowed to have different theological exspressions? If so what does it involve?

This certainly is true. The Eastern Catholic Churches are not only “allowed” but are actively encouraged to cultivate their own distinctive theological expressions.

Eastern Catholics, while fully Catholic and in communion with the Pope, differ in more ways than just liturgy. We also possess a unique spiritual tradition, as well as a unique theological approach. While we agree with the Latin Church on fundamental matters of doctrine, we approach doctrine in a very different way – from the Eastern perspective. While the Western Church has traditionally formulated doctrine in terms of scholastic Latin theology, we rely almost exclusively on the theology of the Eastern Church Fathers. This difference, rather than rupturing the unity of the Church, further expresses the true UNIVERSIALITY of Christ’s Church.

This is authoritatively taught by the Second Vatican Council:

“All in the Church must preserve unity in essentials. But let all, according to the gifts they have received enjoy a proper freedom, in their various forms of spiritual life and discipline, in-their different liturgical rites, and even in their theological elaborations of revealed truth,” (UNITATIS REDINTEGRATIO, no. 4).

“What has just been said about the lawful variety that can exist in the Church must also be taken to apply to the differences in theological expression of doctrine. In the study of revelation East and West have followed different methods, and have developed differently their understanding and confession of God’s truth. It is hardly surprising, then, if from time to time one tradition has come nearer to a full appreciation of some aspects of a mystery of revelation than the other, or has expressed it to better advantage. In such cases, these various theological expressions are to be considered often as mutually complementary rather than conflicting. Where the authentic theological traditions of the Eastern Church are concerned, we must recognize the admirable way in which they have their roots in Holy Scripture, and how they are nurtured and given expression in the life of the liturgy. They derive their strength too from the living tradition of the apostles and from the works of the Fathers and spiritual writers of the Eastern Churches. Thus they promote the right ordering of Christian life and, indeed, pave the way to a full vision of Christian truth,” (ibid., no. 17).

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