Friday, December 14, 2012

EP Bartholomew seeks to restart ecumenical progress

CONSTANTINOPLE (OCL) – Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew is attempting to inaugurate a new path and new dynamics of rapprochement and reconciliation with the Roman Catholic Church in conjunction with the Theological Dialogue working towards the Eucharistic Union of the Churches.

In his speech to the Delegation of the Church of Rome headed by Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, at the Thronal Feast of the Ecumenical Patriarchate on the feast day of St. Andrew the First Called Apostle, on the patriarch said on November 30 that “the uniqueness of the founders of our Churches, of Elder Rome and of New Rome, the Holy Apostles Peter and Andrew, as brothers according to the flesh, constitutes a motivation for both of our Churches to move toward the genuine experience of spiritual brotherhood and the restoration of communion in this same spirit, in truth and in love.”

The patriarch went on saying that “unfortunately, throughout the course of the centuries, this brotherhood has been deeply wounded and as a result, the spiritual unity of our Churches has been disrupted.

For centuries, theologians, as well as personalities in both Churches, spent their energy not in the context of dialogue, but rather in promoting and supporting their own positions, not taking into consideration that of St. John Chrysostom, “Thou hast spoken once, perhaps, and he hath not heard. Speak therefore twice, and thrice, and as often as it may be, till thou hast persuaded him. Every day God is addressing us, and we do not hear; and yet He does not leave off speaking.”

Bartholomew desires to make a new beginning that it why he proposed that “it is already empirically evident that the conviction has matured in the hearts of both sides, namely that, from this point on the course of our efforts must be reversed. That is to say, we must expend our spiritual energy not in the effort of finding justifications for the strengthening of positions, which we overly defended in the past towards the justification of the schism, but in sincerely endeavoring to find arguments that verify the error of divisive inclinations and that, even more, seek out ways of approaching full restoration of the unity of the Churches.”
The patriarch believes that “the best method for investigating this matter is the continuation and cultivation of inter-ecclesiastical dialogues and relations, as well as especial cultivation of the outcome of the dialogue of love into a substantial and theological dialogue between both of our Churches, Orthodox and Roman Catholic. The personal acquaintance of the members and especially of the representatives of the Churches often leads to the discovery that the people involved are of good will, and that a deeper understanding of the events that provoked the schism based upon objectivity will suffice to dissipate fears, suspicions, distrust, and conflicts of the past.”

Bartholomew urges “reinforcing with as much strength as we have this Dialogue of Truth, so that by means of the frequent and wide-ranging discussions, we may raise the level of knowledge and facilitate mutual understanding, thus directing ourselves toward ‘all truth’ (see John 16:13), which always and above all conquers. The mature fruit of this knowledge is the progressive agreement upon particular points, an agreement, which on the tally of disagreements and agreements will continuously increase the sum of the agreements until all disagreements are eclipsed. On that day, we will all, united in faith and love, jointly glorify our Savior Christ, Who will have led us through fire and water to refreshment.”

The Patriarch invited the Bishop of Rome Benedict XVI to work and walk together. He said “both of us, our brother the Pope of Rome and our Modesty, along with our Churches, and all our spiritual leaders, ought to show, by our example, to the rulers of the world’s resources, that they need to remember compassion and love toward those in need, because otherwise social cohesion is at risk, which, if disturbed, will bring enormous destruction to both the just and unjust.”

Bartholomew reminded Pope Benedict that “the current year is passing. With terrifying and negative predictions for the developments of human affairs on a global sphere.”

The patriarch revealed that “our Holy Orthodox Church finds itself in the delightful position of announcing that the preparation of its Holy and Great Synod has almost been completed, that it is in its final stages and will be convoked in the near future. It will pronounce upon the issue, among others, of the dialogues of Orthodoxy with the other Churches and it will take the fitting decisions in unity and authenticity so that we may progress toward the ‘unity of faith’ in the communion of the Holy Spirit in the surety that ‘To lovers of the truth nothing can be put before God and hope in Him’ (Basil the Great, To Eustathius the Physician, Letter 151, PG 32.608B; NPNF2-8:604).”


  1. I think it'd be awesome if we reunited. I think we'd be able to get some work done for the Kingdom! This will be interesting to see play out (if it does).

  2. Any union between Orthodoxy and Rome would have to be through mutual acceptance of the Faith of the ancient undivided Church before Rome went into schism. Rome would have to give up any innovations or additions to the Faith of the Fathers and the Ecumenical Councils, especially the First Vatican Council. I doubt that they would be willing to do that. It would also require agreement of all the autocephalous Orthodox Churches of the world.

  3. I would be very excited about re-unification, yet as it currently stands some major theological hurdles need to be overcome- original sin being one. However through Christ all things are possible. I am hopeful that he will gather and unite His Church in His time- I applaud the patriarch for his optimism.

  4. Fix our own house first, then we can start thinking about ecumenicism. I mean the 'diaspora' Church and the jurisdictional issues.

  5. And Greeks would have to give up all it's innovations too, such as Palamism since these innovations are after the Greeks went into another of the numerous schisms. I wonder if the Greeks would be willing to do the same and state it openly that in calling for the Catholic Church to give up this and that and accept the "the Faith of the ancient undivided Church", that they include Palamite hesychasm and the essence-energies distinction as among the things the Greeks themselves are giving up.

    I wonder...

  6. So how is hesychasm and the essence-energies distinction not a part of the ancient undivided Church?

  7. One can find the essence-energy distinction in St. Athanasius, the Cappadocians and St. John Damascene. Hesychasm was practiced prior to the schism as well. We should all concentrate on our actual disagreements and not the contrived disagreements of "pop" apologetics.

  8. Seriously, the Orthodox can't even figure out who we belong to in the West and we're going to jump right in and work out doctrine that has been diverging for the past millenium?

    And in the as yet-remote event that eucharistic Communion is declared, why wouldn't the next decree be that Rome, as the Western Patriarchate, gets Europe, the British Isles and North and South America?

    Or maybe that's the plan, I don't know.

  9. Truthseeker and Maximus, then Papal infallibility can also be argued to be the faith of the undivided Church and is the thought of Leo, Agatho, Cyprian, Flavian etc etc for example if you mean that those elements are present in the writings of the Fathers of the Church prior to the schism.

    The point being that John Morris stated that "Any union between Orthodoxy and Rome would have to be through mutual acceptance of the Faith of the ancient undivided Church before Rome went into schism. Rome would have to give up any innovations or additions to the Faith of the Fathers and the Ecumenical Councils, especially the First Vatican Council. "

    My response was to him. He is asking that Rome give up some elements of it's defined dogmatics to return to "mutual acceptance of the Faith of the ancient undivided Church" before the Greeks went into one of their many schisms. With the keywords of "mutual acceptance", I don't believe that hesychasm and Palamism falls under those categories without dispute.

    Would then the Greeks be willing to give up their settled belief just as Rome is asked to give up it's settled belief?

    Let all work to fulfil God's will on earth that the Church be One. But polemics such as that comment has to be mirrored back so that the justness can be measured and we can see if what's good for the goose is good for the gander.

  10. The orthodoxy of Rome in the first several centuries is a pretty predictable and mundane phenomenon. Take the city of Rome in say, the 5th century, and compare it to one of the vibrant, sprawling metropolises in the East. Rome was a conservative backwater decimated by plagues, invasions, and general neglect. So their populace and their clergy didn't fall into the various heresies as often as the people in the East did. Even now, I wouldn't go spreading a new, controversial doctrine in Alabama or Texas. My innovation would be much better received in Los Angeles, NYC, or Miami.

    Even taking that simple, common sense principle into account, you have exceptions. Exactly what rhetorical gymnastics do pro-papal infallibility apologists use to justify Honorius during the monothelite controversy?

    I do think that some of the Orthodox apologists make too strong a case about the supposed "differences" between Orthodoxy and Latin Catholicism. But I'll come down just as strong on traditionalist interpretations of Vatican I, which was one of the most wrong headed moves the Latins made in a while. It has taken more creative backpedaling, window dressing, and "aggiornamento" than anything they've done in the last 300 years.