How Could EO and the CC reunite?

So I am of the opinion that if the great schism ended, there would be no valid excuse to be Protestant anymore. But this often gets me thinking: what would need to happen for this reunification to happen? The answers inevitably depress me, but I hold on to the hope that nothing is impossible with God.

Anyway here is the list of things I know of that keep the East and West separated

  1. Papal jurisdiction and infallibility

  2. Anything declared dogmatically since 1054

  3. The Filioque

  4. The difference in liturgy

It seems like such a short list that I think I must have missed something. But we are talking of two storied traditions that are unwilling or unable to bend concerning point number 1. So it seems that we are just as far away from unity as ever. But what are your thoughts? Is unity possible within the next 20 years? 42? 100? Or are we doomed to have another millennium of division?

I could potentially see point 1 being gradually eroded through ecumenical talks, just as many differences with Lutheran beliefs have been smoothed away through careful discussion. Various Orthodox Churches could come into Communion with Rome like various others have, and remain basically self-governing.

Point 3 I don’t really see as a problem, as the Catholic Church only adds the filioque to the Latin translation and derivatives thereof: it isn’t added to the Greek, and Catholic Churches that are not the Latin Church do not add it.

Point 4 doesn’t really seem like an issue at all: there’s no problem with a plurality of liturgy, and I’m not aware of any Orthodox Churches who propose that the current Ordinary Form, as properly celebrated, is a problem. They might have some issues with the Tridentine Mass (I half recall something?).

I’d see the main problem as point 2. The Catholic Church cannot undefine anything which has been dogmatically defined, and if an Orthodox Church cannot accept that something has been dogmatically defined as true, then I don’t really see what anyone could do about that. I don’t know how much of a definite problem that is: I gather the main objection to the various dogmatically defined doctrines is not that the Orthodox do not believe them, but that they should not have been dogmatically defined and hence remove wiggle-room for Christians.

I would respectfully disagree with the above poster on all but the point about the liturgy.

The issue is that the Filioque is not just seen as an unwanted addition, but an illegal and heretical addition for many, if not all, Orthodox who have an opinion on the matter.

The papacy could bepotentially accepted if infalliability were dropped and the understanding of the Pope’s jurisdiction were modified, not necessarily away from the universal aspect but away from what is seen as the authoritarian aspect, i.e, the power to appoint or remove bishops.

As to things declared dogma post-schism in the west, there would need be considerable dialogue, but the Immaculate Conception and papal infalliability are the obvious no-goes.

I apologize if my spelling is off, my device’s spell check is turned off.

The “great schism” only involved one particular Church (Greek/Byzantine) of many Orthodox Churches. Arguably, the split between the Western Church and the Oriental Orthodox involved more Christians at the time it occurred, and thus could be considered an even “greater schism.”

Here’s a possible framework:

Steps Towards A Reunited Church: A Sketch Of An Orthodox-Catholic Vision For The Future
The North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation (October 2010)

With respect, I disagree with all of the above quoted post. Genuine Roman Catholicism is an all or nothing proposition. Either it is all true or it is not. The Lutherans are a long way from having “smoothed away” all of their false doctrines and beliefs. “Ecumenism” is not meant to be a compromise between the Truth of the Catholic Church and any other ecclesial community.

With respect to point 2 - A great number of dogmatic teachings have been declared by the Catholic Church since 1054 and no one in communion with Holy Mother Church may reject any of them, in whole or in part. There would be some major, major fence mending that would need to be done in order for a reunification.

Point 3 is a HUGE issue of fundamental doctrine and has been for centuries. It is not a mere matter of translation and has major theological implications. The Orthodox rejection of this is the rejection of Papal authority (Point 1) and no such Church can be in communion with Rome.

Point 4 is an issue for many within the Catholic Church itself, so I would think it would be a pretty big issue. I would think that many of the post Vatican II innovations would not sit well with some of the Orthodox traditions.

IMHO reunion is an awful long way away. As you say though, all things are possible with God. :slight_smile:



Can the Catholic Church reverse a dogma?

There’s your answer right there.

The only way reunion will ever happen is if the Bishop of Rome, in that capacity, forgetting whatever dignity has been built into the office of Pope, approach the ruling bishops of 15 autocephalous Eastern Orthodox Churches, and do what is required by them for his restoration to the Diptychs.
When he is commemorated once more, then inter-communion will be possible once more.

This is, of course the Eastern Orthodox perspective. The Catholic perspective is very different, showing that we have a wide gap to cross.

The separation between Eastern and Oriental Orthodox, not being based on power, but rather on past misunderstandings, is where I feel we (Orthodox) should focus our efforts. I don’t expect that schism to be healed in my lifetime, but I figure it stands a much better chance.

Short, to the point, and absolutely right on! :thumbsup:



That is the truth. There is no way the Orthodox Church will accept Pastor Aeternus. Even if the Pope accepts being the First Among Equals, there is a dogma of the Church that says otherwise and the Orthodox will never come into communion with a Church that bears such a dogma.

Unfortunate from an RC perspective, but yes, very true indeed.

I do enjoy it when people respectfully disagree with me :slight_smile: I especially enjoy it when they say that’s what they’re doing, and then go on to say things which agree with what I said.

I acknowledge no disagreement whatsoever. The Great Schism in 1054 between the Orthodox and and Latin (Roman Catholic Church) was very unfortunate. For the record though, I do believe the Orthodox Church erroneously wandered from full and true communion with the Holy Catholic Church established by Christ, and much to its own detriment severed the lifeline and obedience to the successor of St. Peter, the head of the Church, who can, has and does speak with ultimate Apostolic authority on matters of faith and morals.

I very much doubt the Orthodox and Latin Church will reconcile their very significant differences anytime soon. That is why I respectfully endorse the statements made by ConstantineTG. They are in accord with and do not contradict my personal beliefs at all.

Perhaps a small part of my response is somewhat in agreement with a point your argument. The majority, however, is most certainly not. Just as a matter of clarification…

I’ve recently been reading the book Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy: Exploring Belief Systems through the Lens of the Ancient Christian Faith by Andrew Stephen Damick (Fr. Damick is pastor of St. Paul Orthodox Church in Emmaus, Pennsylvania, or at least he was when this book was published). In a section on the grounds of union with the Roman Catholic Church, he offers this list:

items that Roman Catholics must repudiate and reject (not merely brush aside or theologize around):

papal universal jurisdiction
papal infallibility
papal Petrine exclusivism (i.e., that only the pope is Peter’s successor)
development of doctrine
the Filioque
original sin understood as guilt transmitted via “propagation”
the immaculate conception of Mary
absolute divine simplicity
merit and satisfaction soteriology
purgatory and indulgences
created grace

items that Roman Catholics would have to accept and fully confess:

the authority of the Ecumenical Councils over the pope
the essence/energies distinction

practices Roman Catholics would need to restore:

reconnect confirmation/chrismation to baptism rather than delaying it
give Holy Communion to all church members, including infants

I can’t speak to the Orthodox side of things, but Catholics can help the process along by:

-Learning about Orthodoxy

-Attending an Eastern Catholic mass every now and then, learn about Eastern Catholicism, teach OTHERS about Eastern Catholicism (most Catholics just think they’re Orthodox, which certainly doesn’t help anything) and thus take steps to ensure that Eastern Catholics don’t feel like invisible “second-class citizens” within the Church

Knowledge will help things along greatly. In the United States (and elsewhere I’m sure), the Orthodox and Eastern Catholics are a tiny minority in most places, and often feel misunderstood and ignored. Learning about these traditions, and celebrating Eastern Catholicism, trying to strengthen it, putting it on more equal terms with the Latin Church, will no doubt enrich our own diversity of tradition and attract more Orthodox to the fold.

I would also like to link to a fantastic article posted by someone in the EC forum:

^I think the above article gives great reason to hope for the Catholic Church’s chances of building ties with our Orthodox brothers and sisters. Reciprocation would be nice, but until then, I’m glad we’re moving in the right direction :slight_smile:

While we are more similar than different, those 20 or so differences keep us separate, that I don’t think it would happen until Christ comes again.

Even if those 20 are solved, there are a long list of other items to fix between the beliefs of the two Churches. I’ve taken an interest in Sacramental Theology recently and have been learning about Orthodox Sacraments. Even here we are so far apart, I think it is only Baptism where we can really agree on.

Out of curiosity, how so based on your study thus far? As you mentioned Baptism as a close match, how about Chrismation/Confirmation?

I haven’t looked at that yet. Although we know that the Orthodox will chrismate the heretics/heterodox coming into the Church (for the first time or for the Nth time).

All I know is that with Holy Orders and Matrimony, we are so far apart. With the Eucharist we both believe in the Real Presence, but everything else around it is different. For one thing, the Orthodox do not believe there can be a Eucharist if there are no people during a Liturgy (nor can there be a Liturgy itself). The RC obviously does private Masses all the time.

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