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Catholic, Orthodox Churches take further steps toward union September 27, 2010

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Ecumenism, General Catholic, Latin Mass, Society.

Amazing…..an actual newpaper article about religious matters that isn’t replete with bias and misinformation.  How can it be that we have to look to Moscow for reasonable coverage of religious matters in the press?  Such would have been unthinkable two decades ago.  Nevertheless, the important point – talks between the Catholic Church and the schismatic Orthodox Church appear to be progressing rather well.  With further work, much prayer, and the action of the Holy Spirit, the two great liturgical Churches could once again be joined in close unity:

Roman Catholic and Orthodox theologians reported promising progress in talks on overcoming their Great Schism of 1054 and bringing the two largest denominations in Christianity back to full communion.Experts meeting in Vienna last week agreed that the two could eventually become “sister churches” that recognize the Roman pope as their titular head but retain many church structures, liturgy and customs that developed over the past millennium.

The delegation heads stressed that unity was still far off, but their upbeat report Friday reflected growing cooperation between Rome and the Orthodox churches traditionally centered in Russia, Greece, Eastern Europe and the Middle East.

“There are no clouds of mistrust between our two churches,” Orthodox Metropolitan John Zizioulas of Pergamon said at a news conference. “If we continue like that, God will find a way to overcome all the difficulties that remain.”

Archbishop Kurt Koch, the top Vatican official for Christian unity, said the joint dialogue must continue “intensively” so that “we see each other fully as sister churches.”

The churches split in 1054 over the primacy of the Roman pope, the most senior bishop in early Christianity. The Orthodox in Constantinople, now Istanbul, rejected Roman primacy and developed national churches headed by their own patriarchs.

The Vatican has sought closer ties for years, but the Russian Orthodox Church — whose 165 million followers are the largest branch of the world’s 250 million Orthodox — responded slowly as it emerged from more than seven decades of Communist rule.

Roman Catholicism is Christianity’s largest church, with 1.1 billion of the estimated 2 billion Christians worldwide.

Pope Benedict has close ties to the spiritual leader of the Orthodox, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in Istanbul, and hopes to meet Russian Patriarch Kirill, who has shown great interest in better ties since taking office in early 2009.

Benedict and Kirill are both conservative theologians who say Europe should return to its Christian roots. The Orthodox are closer to Catholicism in their theology and liturgy than the Protestant churches that broke from Rome in the 16th century.

Unity will require change on both sides, the delegation heads stressed. “I won’t call it a reformation — that is too strong — but an adaptation from both sides,” John said.

The Catholic Church of course requires recognition of the See of Peter as the Head of the Church and there two millenia of Tradition that gives the Pope great power and autonomy.  The Orthodox Churches desire to keep the autonomy of their national synods, and seek the modify the role of Pope to require consultation with bishops before major decisions are taken.  Can reunion occur?  I certainly pray so…..not least for the fact that Unity is a key aspect of Christianity as Christ has revealed in Scripture, but also for the fact that Christian Churches will need that unity as society becomes increasingly intolerant of the Christian religion.  Practically, there would be great benefits to Catholics coming from exposure to Orthodox liturgical practice, something which has remained amazingly unchanged for 1500 or more years. 

Coupled with the recent Ordinariate for Anglicans, the Church has made amazing progress in its ecumenical efforts under Pope Benedict XVI – in fact, better progress in terms of real results than has been made in many decades, possibly centuries.


1. Chris Baker - September 27, 2010

Wonderful news!

A related aside … I heard something similar about Catholic/Luther relations that may happen on a big anniv (500th?) in the next few years. Whatcha know?

2. Russian Orthodox playing games? « A Blog for Dallas Area Catholics - September 29, 2010

[…] Posted by tantamergo in Ecumenism, General Catholic, Society, foolishness, sadness. trackback I reported earlier that both the Vatican and representatives of the Patriarch of Constantinople, the symbolic head of […]

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