Having a discussion on another blog I am interested in getting some feedback here on the issues raised.
It comes down to the theological approach of St Augustine and that of St Cyprian, along with St Basil and other Fathers. The former has generally been the accepted approach in the West and the latter in the East.
The issues are whether there can be valid Mysteries/Sacraments outside the visible/canonical limits of the Church; whether the Holy Spirit can be active in such Mysteries outside the Church (can we separate the Holy Spirit from Christ and His Body); and whether a local Church can be considered a true Church yet deficient in something, especially not being in communion with Rome.
Does the latter point give Rome some form of Mystical/Sacramental role as well as an “administrative” role assuming for the sake of argument that such a role was instituted by Christ? If Rome does not have a Mystical role, how then can communion with it provide anything to a local Church other than separation from it making the local Church schismatic, as it would be being separated from any other local Church?
At present, I understand that the Spirit is not in the Mysteries of those outside the Church and in no way can schismatic and heretical churches be called “true and particular” having valid Mysteries. Roman Catholics and Orthodox being well established in schism, (although really both teach heresies relative to the other), if one is the Church then the other is not, with invalid Mysteries, and cannot be considered true and particular, let alone “Sister”. This seems to be in line with St Cyprian, St Basil and other Fathers that are not followers of St Augustine. Following St Augustine, it may be possible to see schismatics as true and particular Churches with a deficiency but even here there are some problems as to how lack of communion with Rome can cause a deficiency, other than the direct wording of “true and particular churches in schism”. Can both views be accepted together or are they mutually exclusive? Can theory be tied in with the practice of the Fathers of the Church?
Sure it may be nice to say that Rome is a church, or the Church, and for that to be accepted in reply but on what theological/ecclesiology is this based? St Augustine provides a framework for this but is St Augustine right? Can the Mysteries exist outside the Church? Does this question even make sense?
Although, I am sure much ink has already been spilt on this matter, I look forward to comments.