I’m trying to do some research on the history of ecumenism and thought it might be wise to look at examples involving the Eastern Orthodox. But I’m not aware of many documents before 1962 that shed light on friendly interactions between the two communions. That’s not to say there weren’t any, because I know of some examples, but I just would like to find documents from these times that give evidence of Orthodox-Catholic friendliness.
A couple of examples that come to mind, and I would like to find documents about these items from the time periods concerned:
First, I wonder if there was any friendly communication between the Catholics and the Orthodox during the Crusades. I am aware that some of the Crusaders were very evil to the Orthodox, and it might be an understatement to say that our relationship soured during that period. But on the other hand, it is my understanding that the First Crusade was called in part to defend the Eastern Orthodox from oppression by terrorists, and I believe there was at least one pope in that time who excommunicated the knights of the Fourth Crusade in part because their actions harmed efforts at reconciliation. The desire for reconciliation seems very ecumenical, and I wonder if ecumenical language can be found in some documents of that time. Anybody know any examples?
Second, the Fourteenth and Seventeenth Ecumenical Councils involved attempts at reunion between the Catholics and the Orthodox. It appears to me that the reunion broke up again and our relationship got worse, with harsh language on both sides. But in the midst of that, I can’t help but suppose that some people on both sides were very sorrowful about all this harshness, and tried to use more friendly language and not break chances at future reunion. Anybody know examples of writers from that time who spoke in a friendly and warm way with the Orthodox?
Third, there are the Uniate churches. I believe that some of the Uniate churches were created by Catholic missionaries who went into Orthodox territory and tried to convince individual groups of Orthodox to reunite. Assuming these missionaries did this, I wonder if there are any surviving records of what they did, what they said, dialogs they had, and stuff like that. I don’t imagine they convinced large groups to reunite by insulting them. At least some of their interactions had to be friendly, right? And I would guess that these missionaries, assuming they existed, kept records of what they did. The Jesuits, for example, required ongoing written records of the North American missionaries and the missionaries to Asia. Does anybody know if the missionaries to the Orthodox kept records too, and any examples from that time, or summaries of their activities?
Fourth, there is the Greek College founded by Pope Gregory XIII. It did lots of ecumenical stuff, including assisting with the formation and preservation of Eastern Catholic monasteries and helping Eastern Orthodox groups reunite the Church. Similar to #3, I would imagine that some of its records have survived, and included friendly interactions with Eastern Orthodox. Anybody know of any examples?
Fifth, I have seen evidence that there was much positive and friendly interaction between the Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church between the reign of Peter the Great and the end of the Napoleonic era. I believe the Russian Orthodox Czar was even made the head of a Catholic military order at one point, and one of the popes begged him to rescue him from Napoleon, leading to Russian participation in the Battle of Waterloo. Is any of that correct? And if so, do we have any surviving records giving examples of this friendly and cooperative attitude?
Sixth, after the Bolshevik revolution and leading up to Vatican 2, I believe the Catholic Church sent secret missionaries into Communist Russia because the existing Catholic and Orthodox priests were largely captured and killed. One example of a secret missionary was Fr. Walter Ciszek, and he spoke of the friendly interactions there were between himself and some secret Orthodox missionaries who also made it into the country. Besides his writings, are there any other records of positive interactions between Catholics and Orthodox from this period?
Thanks, and God bless!