More on Catholic/Orthodox Unity

Fr. Peter-Michael Preble writes on his blog (click here) about the recent comments by the Catholic Archbishop of Moscow that Catholic/Orthodox reconciliation is (according to the news report)”within a few months” (you can read the whole article here).   I agree with Fr Peter-Michael that, “as much as many of us hope and pray that one day this will be true I hate to disagree with His Eminence.”  (h/t: AOI)

Thinking about the whole question of Catholic/Orthodox reconciliation causes me to reflect a bit on the overall health of the Orthodox Church.  If I may, it seems to me that–theological differences between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches aside for a moment–the impediment to reconciliation between our two Churches seem largely internal to the Orthodox side of the question.

That is to say, we cannot move toward reconciliation between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches because though we (the Orthodox) share a common faith we are nevertheless divided in other ways.

Our own divisions for all that they are secondary (e.g., the lack of administrative unity not only in the US but also Western Europe, Australia and parts of Asia) are nevertheless an impediment to healing the schism.  I do not say this lightly, but we need to face the facts of our situation.

Taking the narrowest interpretation of the Great Schism, that all the fault lies on the side of Rome and that they need to repent and return to us, how can they do this when we cannot even manage to agree on relative simple matters such as a unified and functional administrative structure for the US?  We cannot even agree on how we are to reconcile a single Catholic lay person to the Church–is it by confession? chrismation? or baptism?–without arguments and recriminations among ourselves.  How then do we imagine we would receive 1.5 BILLION Catholics as Orthodox Christians?

I agree, as I alluded to earlier, that the interpretation many are giving to the words of Catholic Archbishop of Moscow are overly optimistic–I suspect that what he was referring to was not a re-establishment of communion, but pastoral collaboration and cooperation in the face of the twin threats of Islamic radicalism an increasing secular culture.  But even this cooperation will be difficult to put into effect if, sadly true to form, one or more of the Orthodox churches (or bishops) stamps its (or his) foot and has a temper tantrum, spit in the soup, and walks away in a huff.

It is sad for me to think that it is we, the Orthodox, who are the stumbling block in this matter.  It makes me sadder than I have words to express.

Again, and as always, your comments, questions and criticisms are not only welcome but actively sought.

In Christ,

+Fr Gregory

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  • Joseph (Andrew Martyr)

    Glory to Jesus Christ!
    Father Gregory I am only a poor sinner, but I do believe something amazing is happening under the sleeping nose of the secular world. Perhaps Father Peter-Michael is feeling the movement of the Holy Spirit and we all should be ready for a true miracle as this millennium develops. I was married to a Roman Catholic woman who decided after some time to not join the Orthodox Church, but remain true to her traditions. This was a problem of course, but with time I grew to appreciate the fact that our marriage was like an icon for the Apostolic Church as a whole. She was a member of Opus Dei and I started to appreciate the fact that the Holy Spirit had been moving elements of the Roman Catholic communion closer and closer to Orthodoxy for some time as the 20th century progressed. I think Pope John Paul II may have been a living icon of Moses, who could see the promised land of reunification but not enter it. Do not lose hope Father! Just like a marriage of two different people, there will always be details that outsiders can point at and identify to try to cause despair between Orthodox and Catholic faithful, but only the two individuals within the marriage can really develop the discipline needed to overcome these differences and see the beautiful treasures that the two different human lives and experiences have each contributed to the union. When Orthodoxy and the Roman Catholic communion do reunify- and it is coming like an avalanche waiting to start the slide- it will be like any marriage, full of possible friction and discontent, but like any Christian marriage, faith hope and love will iron down the wrinkles and a new powerful Christian Church will start to change the world for the better and set the tone for this new millenium. The courtship has begun and the marriage ceremony will take place- someday. Forgive me Father for speaking so boldly before you.

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  • Joseph (Andrew Martyr)

    Glory to Jesus Christ!
    Father Gregory I am only a poor sinner, but I do believe something amazing is happening under the sleeping nose of the secular world. Perhaps Father Peter-Michael is feeling the movement of the Holy Spirit and we all should be ready for a true miracle as this millennium develops. I was married to a Roman Catholic woman who decided after some time to not join the Orthodox Church, but remain true to her traditions. This was a problem of course, but with time I grew to appreciate the fact that our marriage was like an icon for the Apostolic Church as a whole. She was a member of Opus Dei and I started to appreciate the fact that the Holy Spirit had been moving elements of the Roman Catholic communion closer and closer to Orthodoxy for some time as the 20th century progressed. I think Pope John Paul II may have been a living icon of Moses, who could see the promised land of reunification but not enter it. Do not lose hope Father! Just like a marriage of two different people, there will always be details that outsiders can point at and identify to try to cause despair between Orthodox and Catholic faithful, but only the two individuals within the marriage can really develop the discipline needed to overcome these differences and see the beautiful treasures that the two different human lives and experiences have each contributed to the union. When Orthodoxy and the Roman Catholic communion do reunify- and it is coming like an avalanche waiting to start the slide- it will be like any marriage, full of possible friction and discontent, but like any Christian marriage, faith hope and love will iron down the wrinkles and a new powerful Christian Church will start to change the world for the better and set the tone for this new millenium. The courtship has begun and the marriage ceremony will take place- someday. Forgive me Father for speaking so boldly before you.

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