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Laurent Cleenewerck is a professor of theology and applied sciences for Euclid University Consortium. He is also a presbyter of the Ecumenical Patriachate of Constantinople, now serving in the Orthodox Church of America. He and his wife Irene reside in No
Laurent Cleenewerck is a French-born academic scholar and Orthodox theologian who teaches for several institutions of higher learning including Humboldt State University, Ukrainian Catholic University, EUCLID University and the St Gregory Nazienzen Orthodox Theological Institute. He is the rector of the St Innocent Orthodox Church in Eureka, California. His interests range from inter-religious dialogue to international economics.
Perhaps only once in a generation something comes along that is so unique as to be a potential catalyst for history-making and world-changing events. His Broken Body - Understanding and Healing the Schism between Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Christians by Laurent A. Cleenewerck might just have that potential! At least, that will be the likely view of anyone who sincerely professes faith in Christ and believes that His Church is integral to their salvation but is saddened and disturbed by the visible disunity of those claiming ancient and apostolic Christian roots. Fr. Laurent (he is both an Orthodox Priest and Professor) has attempted to cut the Gordian Knot between Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians, and it appears that he has at least partially succeeded in this brilliant and unique book.
His Broken Body may be the sui generis among books on this subject due to its novel approach. Because it attempts to provide "both sides of the story" in a comprehensive and detailed manner under one cover, it offers a unique contribution to this discussion. New light is shed on a multiplicity of concurrent (and competing) early church viewpoints and practices such as Eucharistic vs. Universal Ecclesiology and Petrene Succession in (every) bishop as well as the bishop of Rome. Then there is the fascinating concept of "The Church as Hologram."
For many readers, seeing this material for the first time will seem like an epiphany. It was for me. Though not all the concepts covered are new, I know of no other source that addresses all of this in one place. I've had to dig for years through both Roman Catholic and Orthodox resources to even gain an inkling of what is now available in His Broken Body.Read more ›
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This book really does do justice to its claim to present an irenic contribution to the ongoing dialogue between the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches. It is written from the EO perspective, which is rather helpful given that most books (if they address Orthodoxy at all) are written entirely from a "Western" perspective. Things he clarifies in the book that really contribute to the discussion are:
1. The EO concept of "Church," "The Church," "Churches," and similar terms. They are not exactly the same as the Catholic or Protestant understandings. He spends considerable time explaining "Eucharistic Ecclesiology" which is an EO articulation of the early Fathers' understanding (according to Orthodoxy) of the "local church" as being the whole fullness of the "catholic Church" wherever the Eucharist is celebrated by the faithful in communion with their bishop in succession from the apostles. Thus, it is the presence of Christ (in the Eucharist, through the bishop, and among the people) that sanctifies the gathering and makes it to be "Church." It is not that body's relationship to a particular earthly focal point (i.e. Rome, Constantinople or what have you). Thus, each local church is THE Church, not simply "a part of the Church."
2. A very balanced view of early writings regarding Peter, the bishop of Rome, other bishops, and the like. He cuts through much typical popular apologetic work (from both sides, though the RC side swamps the EO simply in sheer volume...at least in America) that plucks verses without really considering the full context of the complexities surrounding that Father's particular letter.Read more ›
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This is an excellent review of the issues that separate the Orthodox and Roman Catholics. I want to make one criticism and highlight one of the author's main points.
First, the criticism. Overall this book has an irenic spirit. As a Catholic of the Byzantine Rite, I find his discussion of "uniatism" to be dismissive. Also, he ought to know better than to use the U-word in reference to us. For very good reasons, our bishops re-established the broken communion with Rome centuries ago. We have paid a heavy price for doing the right thing. First of all, there was interference by Latin Rite Catholics in our internal affairs resulting in a severe distortion of our spiritual heritage. This is now admitted by Rome which calls us to recover that heritage. If unity with the Orthodox is achieved it will be in part because Rome has learned how not to approach the patrimony of the Eastern churches. Secondly, wherever the Tsars and the Soviets extended their power, they tried to crush us - often with the complicity of Orthodox priests and bishops.
Now the observation. The author makes much of the liturgical revolution in the Roman Catholic Church and the sense of many Eastern Christians that the Latin Church has drifted so far from from apostolic Christianity in its day to day practice that it seems alien to us. The author suggests that this is a profound barrier to the restoration of unity at the ground level. I believe this is correct and Roman Catholics who are interested in healing the Great Schism need to understand this fact.