Any chance for Nicaea III?

About five years ago Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I announced an intention (probably to be carried out by their successors) to celebrate the 1700th anniversary of the First Council of Nicaea in 2025.

Commentary about the announcement discussed how this might signal a desire by the two church leaders to make another formal effort to heal the Great Schism and reunite the Western and Eastern churches. Criticism of that speculation followed, naturally, and some of that included “neo-papal” accusations aimed at Bartholomew I, who, according to many (most?) Orthodox, does not have the authority to call an ecumenical council on behalf of all Orthodox.

What are the chances of a Third Council of Nicaea, and a Great Reunion sometime in the next decade? Or even in this century?

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Powerball odds, or worse.

Unless things change RADICALLY on both sides, pretty remote.

Sorry, but there’s nothing on the horizon portending the degree of rapprochement you describe. Friendlier relationships? Probably. Reunion? Like I said, things would have to change drastically on both sides.

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Nicea III, a full ecumenical council? I don’t think so. A photo op with smiles and handshakes, why not. But no more than that, is my guess.


It would only happen if the Emperor supports it.


Unfortunately the WWI era saw the collapse of the last Christian imperial thrones, West and East.

If you’ve ever lived in Europe, you’d know that they aren’t missed at all, except by a tiny fringe of nutjobs.

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There are still plenty of monarchs in Europe… just none who still carry the title of “emperor”. I live in a constitutional monarchy, though not in Europe (Canada).

Modern constitutional monarchies are a far cry from the Romanovs and Hapsburgs.

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I for one would like to see this happen. Perhaps the Holy Spirit would intervene and heal the schism?


Emperor Vladimir (Putin)?

Fair enough, but those crowns could have modernized as others have…

It should also be noted that the Catholic Church honours the last Austrian emperor as a Blessed…

My feeling is most Catholics want a reunion, most Orthodox do not (but I’m not sure why). It would require a lot of supernatural help, but of course grace is not irresistible.

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I doubt the EO Churches would show. Most refused to participate in their own putative pan-Orthodox synod. They’ve also got a significant schism among them currently, that would need to be healed first.

I find most people don’t realize this, but they were invited to participate in the First Vatican Council in order to effectuate a reunion, but they refused the invitation.

Pope Bl. Pius IX, Arcano Divinae Providentiae

But at this time when, by the advice of Our Venerable Brethren the Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, We have proclaimed and called together an Ecumenical Synod to be celebrated next year in Rome and to be begun on the eighth of December sacred to the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary Mother of God, We again direct Our voice to you, and with the greatest possible earnestness beseech, admonish, and pressingly exhort you that you would come to the same general Synod, as your ancestors came to the Second Council of Lyons held by Our Predecessor Blessed Gregory X, of venerable memory, and to the Council of Florence held by Eugenius IV of happy memory also Our Predecessor; in order that the conditions of former love being renewed, and the peace of our Fathers—that heavenly and healthful gift of Christ which has withered by lapse of time—having been once more revoked to vigour, after the long-continued cloud of grief and black and deplorable night of long-continued dissension, the light of desired union may shine upon all.


Not a Christian ruler, but the Emperoror.

“Ecumenical” is a specific reference to the byzantine emperor–the ecumenical barber cuts his hair, the ecumenical cook makes his food, the ecumenical patriarch is the one whose see is in his capital of Byzantium, and an ecumenical council is one called by the emperor.


Fair enough, but in one form or another the last two Christian emperors I had in mind both claimed a Roman lineage… Christian emperors usually have (as opposed to mere kings). In the case of the Russian Tsar, a direct Byzantine claim was made… the Western emperors more vaguely claimed to be the successors of the ancient Roman Emperors (or at least did until 1806 when the title of Holy Roman Emperor was finally set aside).

I doubt this would happen. First, there are far more differences between the Catholic and Orthodox than many realise. Secondly, it is true that the Ecumenical Patriarch cannot act for all Orthodox churches. Whilst it would probably only require the Pope to get the Catholic churches involved in the Orthodox communion each autocephalous church would need to agree and the autonomous ones may have too as well. I suspect the least likely to participate is the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC). Considering that church’s size and its sphere of influence there would seem little point to an ecumenical council in which the ROC did not participate.


I imagine reunion being piecemeal instead of wholesale. I.e., each autocephalous church choosing to break communion with the other Orthodox churches and establish communion with the Catholic Church (most likely becoming united to their Eastern Catholic counterpart). It would take a very bold Patriarch/Metropolitan to do this, as it requires both division and unification simultaneously.

Speaking from the Orthodox perspective, I can’t really disagree with what you’re saying here, Tom. Being Orthodox, but my wife being Catholic, I have a view into both worlds, which leads me to my perception that there does seem to be a lot that’s different between us, yet, so much of this is how talk about things. In other words, we speak so differently about things that it seems we’re different, when digging deeper we’re actually closer than we realize.

Another issue I see is ignorance and misconceptions of the other on both sides…Orthodox seem to get worked up about things they think is true about Catholics which aren’t actually correct, and vice versa. All this needs to be worked through for a healthy restoration of communion.


We’ should be hoping for restoration of communion between our churches. To say the Orthodox need to “rejoin” implies a black and white “I’m right and you’re wrong” that isn’t going to get us anywhere.


It also kind of contradicts what those guys over in Italy in funny white dresses and beanies have been telling us for decades . . .

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