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Praying to Orthodox Saints
Question from Volodya on 9/4/2002:

Dear Anthony, For several months the Roman Catholic churches in my area have been praying to numerous Orthodox saints such as St.Mark of Ephesus, St.Seraphim of Sarov, and the Royal Martyrs of Russia to name just a few. The Catholic churches have held numerous public services in honor of these saints especilay invoking them to heal the church of its present sexual abouse crisis. This seems to me as one of the Orthodox Churche's faithful as a serious insult. But it seems that the Roman Catholic diocese in my area dosent seem to care because all they have said to the Orthodox in my area is that they have a right to do anything they want to do, even praying to whomever. As an Orthodox community we are terribley saddened by this action of the Roman Catholic diocese because they are venerating for only their benefits our holy men and woman who fought and died for the faith, some against the Roman Catholic Church. So I would just like your comments and feedback on the public veneration of Orthodox Saints by Catholics, is it wrong or not? Thank You.

Answer by Anthony Dragani on 9/9/2002:


There is nothing to prevent Catholics from venerating Orthodox saints. However, the situation that you describe is a highly unusual one, and I am somewhat surprised to hear that this is happening. Very few Roman Catholics are ever exposed to Orthodox saints, so I wonder how and why these saints have become popular with them in you area?

But Volodya, I also have to ask you a question. Why are the Orthodox faithful in your area upset by this? Shouldn't you be honored that non-Orthodox have come to venerate your holy men and women? After all, saints are not the property of any one Church or religious community. Rather, they are God's gifts to all of humanity. There is no schism in heaven, where these saints spend eternity interceding for all of us in God's presence.

Rather than seeing this as a negative development, perhaps you should see this as a special grace? By recognizing the holiness of these Orthodox saints, your Roman Catholic brothers and sisters may come to develop a deeper appreciation for your own Orthodox tradition. That could possibly serve to bring us closer together, and end the tragic schism which brings sadness to Christ.

Could the problem be that the misperception is fostered that these Orthodox Saint are Roman Catholic saints? I am not sure what exactly is occuring there, so I cannot comment further. Perhaps you can offer some more details? I am fascinated by this development.

God Bless, Anthony


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