For 50 years, North American dialogue plants seed of Catholic-Orthodox unity

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Fifty years ago, a group of American Catholic and Orthodox clergy and theologians undertook an unprecedented step under the auspices of their respective churches toward better understanding and, it was hoped, eventual unity.

But the participants representing the churches never saw each other.

“We met in different rooms,” recalled Thomas E. Bird, director of the Slavic Studies Program at Queens College, City University of New York and a Catholic representative at the first meeting of the United States Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation on Sept. 9, 1965.

The gathering stemmed from a January 1964 meeting in Jerusalem between Blessed Paul VI and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras of Constantinople and decrees approved by the Second Vatican Council on ecumenism and on the Eastern Churches.

We been talking for 50 years to each others by now and yet I think these methods do not work at all.

They just seem to talk about what we agree upon but ignore the causes of the Great schism between Byzantium and Rome.

Even though I have a good friend Kline who is orthodox and we both feel that they should both be praying for reunion with each other.

So as Catholic we need the rosary for them and us to reunite

Another problem is that certain individuals in orthodoxy hate catholics in many nations were it is the dominant force such as Russia were Catholics are truly suffering.

I think Pope Francis has emphasized the “Synodal Church” collegial model as a way to reach out to Orthodox opposed to traditional Roman supremacy. Note how the Pope often refers to himself strictly as the “Bishop of Rome,” devoid of all the fancy titles that accumulated over the centuries.

I highly doubt that Pope Francis will change Papal infallibility and Papal Supremacy over the Church because they are Dogmas that Christ has given us to protect the Church from error.

No one said anything about changing doctrine. Just altering language and praxis. Doctrine always remains safe on paper.

To an Orthodox Christian, there is a lot of irony in this statement.

Frankly, I can’t say Catholics in today’s Russia are suffering much. Not anything even close to the problems Jehovah Witnesses encounter. )

I wouldn’t say that they do not work at all.

Well, okay I would if I defined working as getting the Orthodox to become “Catholic” (ICWR), but …

I, respectfully, think this is quite premature. 850 years were spent dwelling on the “causes of the Great Schism”, the differences between Catholic and Orthodox ecclesiology, and the deviations and novelties introduced by each church both real and perceived. You’re ready to throw in the towel after just 50 years of a different paradigm?

It would be nice to see reunification in my lifetime, but is it even possible?

The biggest issue I see is the whole papal primacy thing, and I doubt that could be fixed.

The reunion of these two great Churches will occur when people on both sides will take the time to know each other. Prayer will not achieve this because it is personal contacts that are needed. If you only pray but do not do anything else than this unity will never come. The talks between these two Churches in North America is a beginning of this process. At least men and women on both sides are seeing each other. Pope John Paul II was asked how will this unity come about and he quickly responded by saying Canada and the United States. There is very good reason why. It is where in these two countries that the Orthodox and Catholic live side by side. It is here where we can come to make visible personal contacts. Believe when I say unless there comes these visible personal contacts you can forget about whatever unity there will be. This unity problem must be solved by the Laity. Bishops do not have the time to bring this about. We the Laity however have the time. This is what God is waiting for. God is in need of excellent Laity to come to know both of His Churches in order that these Laity when they become priests and Bishops will know more as well. As of now it is impossible for Bishops and priests to carry this out for the simple reason they do not have the time. When men become Bishops and priests how can they ever understand each other’s Churches when they did not come to know it before they became priests and Bishops. The Laity then is the answer.This is what God is looking for, what the Popes of Rome need and what the Orthodox Patriarchs need.

Papal primacy isn’t the issue for Orthodox; it is the notion of supremacy they reject.


Note however: even Vatican I, the council that the Orthodox find the most problematic, didn’t say “supremacy”. (Granted it did say “universal” which the Orthodox also find objectionable.)

Pope Gregory vii didn’t have very nice words for anyone who called himself “universal bishop”

The orthodox will never accept reunion with Rome because of the vast majority of anti Catholic propaganda that has been used since their schism form Rome.

I have experienced this personally among protestants and orthodox who claim that Catholics worship Our Lady as a goddess because of the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception which is false.

Also the intense nationalist extremism supported by the Russian Orthodox Church which uses it’s authorty to attack Catholics in Russia is absolutely unacceptable.

They even forbid St. John Paul II to visit Russia on a Papal visit during the 1990’s

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