Answering Roman Accusations
We keep talking up the East, but remember, they bowed down the Emperors, fell into first Caesaro-Papism, then various heresies, then nationalism (what Irish, or German, African, etc. would feel welcome, in a Serbian, Greek, etc. church)? Another thing, they converted no-one. Western (Roman) Catholicism is the reason there are still 1.5 billion who believe in the Divinity of Jesus Christ. The East was happy to sit in the caves, and monasteries chanting and growing their beards. Complete lack of Apostolic Dynamism, almost no missionary work.
Nothing new, really. I've heard most of them before - the usual allegations of heresy and nationalism. I tend to avoid answering them; I know the Latins who bring them up usually have little or no knowledge of the East whatsoever and are, more often than not, unwilling to listen. This time, however, there was an Eastern - it was not me, I assure you - who did not let these charges pass:
Nationalism isn't a problem. I'm Chinese Singaporean, which is about as far as one can get from any sort of Byzantine heritage, and I've been perfectly welcome at every single Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Church I've popped into, and on 4 out of 5 continents. 'eck, I've been invited onto kliros or to be server at most of them. I don't get stares and I've received a warm welcome almost every single time. Don't try to presume any of us Easterns aren't comfortable in each other's churches.
Next, bowing to Emperors? Of COURSE we bow to Emperors - the Emperor is God's chosen ruler. We had the guts to excommunicate and depose Emperors when they became heretics (iconoclasm aside), did you guys have the guts to depose John XII when he preached heresy, in full papal vestments, from the pulpit, about the Beatific Vision? We certainly never attempted to declare the Emperor to have universal immediate jurisdiction or dreamed up the silly notion that he was infallible without an Œcumenical Council. So sometimes we gave the Emperor too much ecclesiastical power, we goofed, Cæsaro-papism indeed. You guys on the other hand, made the Pope a temporal ruler and gave him the power to depose monarchs (who are placed there by God). Can you, in your turn, say Papo-Cæsarism?
Various heresies? True, we gave birth to Arianism, Monophysitism, Nestorianism, Monothelitism, Iconoclasm, and the usual suspects, but you guys gave the world Protestantism, Secular Humanism, Communism and Nihilism. With these four, you've completely pwned us when it comes to giving birth to heresy.
Complete lack of Apostolic Dynamism? Almost no missionary work? Ahem. By the end of the first millennium, there were flourishing Eastern Churches in India, China, Japan, Indo-China and many other small missions scattered throughout Southeast Asia. Any reputable historian will tell you the biggest missionary church of the Middle Ages was the Persian Church, with a mission territory stretching over India, Tibet, China and Japan. The fact that almost nothing remains of these missions is due mostly to the Mongol hordes who pretty much killed everything in sight. Our missions ended gloriously in blood. On the other hand, in Western Europe, you guys pretty much gave up the faith without a fight. Were there persecutions in France, Holland, Italy and America? From the way your churches there look, it appears your Catholic populations decided one day that they simply couldn't be bothered anymore.
When WE plant churches, we inculturate them and make them authentic expressions of Christianity with national characteristics. This is why the Indian Church remains. Ditto the Copts, Assyrians, Armenians, Syrians and suchlike.
What we don't do is make our faith the tool of empire, of imperialistic aggression. Offhand, I can't think of one non-European country, aside from Korea (which is a special case) and North Africa (which was Roman anyway) where the Latin Faith was strong in past centuries, and was NOT made a colony.
'bout time someone stood up to these sanctimonious Romans.