Q — Is it true that the Eastern Catholic Churches, in communion with Rome, don’t accept the original sin teaching developed by Augustine, and decreed as a belief by the Council of Trent? Further, since they reject the “stain” theory of original sin don’t they also reject the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception? Thus, aren’t there two infallible teachings that Eastern Catholics are required to believe?
A — I am no expert on the Eastern Catholic Churches. For details on the Eastern Catholic Churches — their theology, history, liturgy and canon-law — I would refer the questioner to the outstanding competence of the faculty of the Pontifical Oriental College in Rome. There he would find state-of-the-art responses to his theological questions. The questioner will be answered here in very simple and straightforward terms as follows. All churches in communion with Rome accept the doctrinal fabric that has marked traditional Catholicism. That includes the doctrine that all human beings are flawed and are sinners from their beginning, “original sin.” That includes also the doctrine that our Blessed Lady is all holy, in Western theological terms immaculately conceived, in Eastern theological terms the Panagia, “the all holy one.” It is important to remember that different theological terminology is not the same as division in theological belief.

Q —How solid is the evidence that early Christian house churches had a kind of egalitarian discipleship between men and women?
A — The answer to this interesting question depends so much on what counts as “evidence,” but I think we may see the following.  It is a fact that the earliest stratum of Christians congregated in house churches for the celebration of the Eucharist on the Lord’s day. A house church quite simply is the church, that is to say the community, meeting in someone’s house, and presumably a house large enough to accommodate the Eucharistic assembly. It is a theological fact that there is equality of discipleship between men and women flowing from their common baptism into Christ. The clearest witness to this theological conviction is Galatians 3:27-28: “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” That is egalitarian discipleship. No one disciple is in Christ more important than another, although there may be differentiation of roles and responsibilities.