Reunification of Catholic and Orthodox churches?

In my RCIA class a couple of weeks ago. My priest got to talking about the two churches (Catholic and Orthodox). He stated that he believed he would see a reconciliation in his lifetime with the orthodox church. Are there any of you guys that think this is possiable? And if so what makes you think that?
I do remember a couple years ago flippin through the channels and happened to stop on EWTN for some reason, (not even interested in catholicism at that time) and seeing the pope and leader of the othodox church together in what looked like a Mass ceremony? I guess that could be promising!
What about the Orthodox members here? You guys see this happening, and if it did how woul you feel about it?

God bless,
Jesse

Personally I would love to see it happen. I happen to think the Orthodox liturgy is one of the most beautiful experiences a human being can have.

But I know numerous orthodox who would rather cut their right hand off than rejoin with the ‘‘latins’’ as they describe the catholic churchs.

It’s a sad situation, but not being familiar with the politics going on in the background, I really hope what you say is true, and both lungs can breathe as one.

Not in our lifetime. The Orthodox simply will not submit to the authority of the Pope. That doctrine alone would need to change on the Catholic side of the house or be re-defined to reach a compromise. Then there’s the issue with infallibility and some of the Marian dogmas. Those issues are just too large to expect resolution.

Reconciliation and understanding in terms of “getting to love one another” or “working together on certain things” I can definitely see happening now, and I welcome it. In terms of complete or substantial unification, I don’t know if it will happen anytime soon. There are some theological and ecclisiastical differences that the two sides will need to sort out - although they look small on paper, they’re large in the bigger scheme of things. Reunification may be possible, but I don’t foresee it happening in my own lifetime. I wonder, for example, if the Greek Church and Roman Church unite, what will the Russian, Ukrainian, Serbian, Japanese and other Orthodox Churches think? I know the pope has opene dialogue with them as well, I just find it something to consider.

I will admit that a long time ago, when I first converted to Orthodoxy, I was glancing through the old Catholic Encyclopedia and came across some very unflattering things about the Orthodox, distorting the truth about what certain patriarchs did and fallacies like that. It angered me and probably made me rather resentful, I’m sorry to say. Some time later I was watching EWTN and found Fr. Mitch Pacwa answering questions about various issues, one of them Orthodoxy. I held my breadth, but was surprised when he presented the Orthodox Church in a favorable light and represented the opinion of the Church accurately. That greatly improved my opinion regarding Orthodox-Roman Catholic dialogue.

So here’s to you Fr. Pacwa :smiley: Wait, did I get his name right…? :confused:

Glory to Jesus Christ!

Hello Jesse. I think you are thinking of the Pope and Ecumenical Patriarch meeting for a Vespers service which has happened on a few occasions. I myself would love to see Orthodox Unity in my lifetime, but I have to be realistic and say that I do not think it will happen. :frowning: The schism took a long time to happen and I think it will take a long time to heal it.

Here is an article by Fr. Thomas Hopko of Ancient Faith Radio fame. I believe it adequately expresses the views that many Orthodox have about Rome entering into Communion with us. It is a very interesting read. Do let me us know what you think about it.

In Christ,
Andrew

There was a very interesting thread on this topic some weeks ago made by a British convert to Orthodoxy posting under the name “SSTeacher”. I’m not sure what happened to that thread (or that poster…hope you’re out there somewhere and doing fine, Mick!), but unless the situation with regard to reunification of the Catholics and the Orthodox has changed dramatically in the past few weeks, I have no reason to expect to see reunification in my lifetime (and I’m rather young).

Now, this is just an average Catholic’s opinion, but from conversations with more than a few Orthodox friends of all stripes (not just Eastern Orthodox, but Oriental Orthodox of the Armenian, Ethiopian, and Eritrean churches as well), I’ve come away with the impression that at the “official” level, we are approaching things from diametrically opposite viewpoints, and until we learn to at least attempt to inhabit the others’ world for a while, we’re never going to get anywhere. To vastly over-simplify the many complexities that stand in the way of reunion (or for that matter, truly fruitful ecumenism), it seems to me that the Catholic Church places on the Orthodox as a pre-condition of reunion the acceptance of doctrine that is completely foreign to Orthodox tradition and not in accordance with the modes by which the faith is understood and expressed in the Christian East. This would essentially mean the destruction of the Orthodox faith, as the primacy given to the maintenance of tradition in that communion would be broken with the introduction of new, inorganic modes of worship completely alien to the cultures of those Churches.

The Orthodox, for their part, seem to place as a pre-condition for reunion with the Catholic Church the abandonment of what they see as Roman inventions in the areas of Marian dogmas (the IC) and church governance (papal infallibility, and, in a way, the filioque, as this was unilaterally inserted with no input from the East). This is ignoring the nuts and bolts of theological differences that I am not learned enough to comment on, but even these few examples show that what we would see in practice would be the end of the Catholic Church as we know it today.

As a convert to Catholicism, I came into the Church with no baggage regarding “errores Graecorum”, and I’d like to think that I still don’t have any (I have never heard any bad word about the EO or OO in my home parish). I am Latin because I am culturally part of that world (via Mexico and Portugal), not the East. For me, the introduction of eastern understandings and modes of worship, especially after ~1000 years of often hostile separation, would be no less alienating than the imposition of Latin understandings and modes would be (and have been :() in the East. However, since an honest appraisal of our relations with one another cannot ignore the ~1000 years of communion (though not always mutual appreciation or understanding) that we have shared, I must be honest and say that I personally do not have any doctrinal problem with anything that has thus far been explained to me by the Orthodox that I know, whether concerning their reasons for rejections of “Latin inventions”, or their own theological expositions.

Note the uneven ground we are on: The “Latins” reject the Orthodox for what their separated bretheren do not accept, while the Orthodox reject the “Latins” for what their separated bretheren do accept! How can we go forward in truth and charity at such an impasse? With prayer, willingness to listen, and good faith on all sides, maybe something will happen someday, if it be the will of God.

It could happen.

I believe in miracles.

It’s a great sentiment but you have to ask yourself a question. On what issues would the Catholic Church be willing to compromise? Would she compromise on Papal Infallibility, Papal supremacy or the Immaculate Conception? Or is it more likely that both Churches expect the other side to accept their position before reunification could occur? Where are they willing to budge?

If both sides believe that the Church is infallible then to compromise would make a lie out of the lives of one or the other Churches. I don’t think either side is willing to accept that.

Yours in Christ
Joe

Man i would love to see it happen! i think lot’s of progress has been made in terms of at least discussion and dialogue. I think this pope and JPII are very close to a number of the patriarchs which is excellent.

I have a lot of respect and time for the orthodox - as well as all other christian denominations but i feel the orthdox and catholics understand each other a lot better and seem to be the closest!

Reaching unity will take a greater miracle than the sudden healing of a patient with a terminal case of metastatic cancer. I’m not saying that it won’t happen, because Jesus prayed for the unity of all of his followers, and thus I believe that there will be one unified Church in God’s own time. I’m only saying that it will take an exceedingly great miracle, beyond what human efforts could ever achieve. God will turn our hearts, minds, and free will in the right direction - we are human beings with free will, and I believe it is way more difficult to persuade billions of people with a free will to follow God’s plan, than “persuading” mindless cells and tissues to stop that unregulated and anarchic proliferation which is called cancer. The bitterness and animosity from the Orthodox side runs especially deep (I obviously talk from a Catholic’s perspective), and I don’t know what it will take to heal the wounds. From a dogmatic perspective, again the Catholic Church will never ever change its dogmas such as the existence of Purgatory, the Papal Infallibility, Immaculate Conception, Assumption of Mary - these are all rejected by the Orthodox churches and again, I believe that nothing short of a miracle will make them change their minds and accept the fullness of teaching of the Catholic Church. Thus, although our two Churches agree on 99%, resolving the remainder 1% of differences is clearly impossible from a human standpoint. Still, our Popes held great hopes for reunification, and we should all pray for this purpose. I grew up in a Communist dictatorship, and that also seemed impossible that Communism could ever fall. Still, it happened during my lifetime. We recognize that Our Lady’s prophecy at Fatima was about Communism, when she said that Russia would spread her errors around the world, causing persecutions and martyrdom of the faithful. She also said that the Pope should consecrate Russia to her Immaculate Heart, and the faithful should practice the “Five first Saturdays of reparation to her Immaculate Heart” - and God will convert Russia and save the world through these means. The Pope John Paul II consecrated Russia to Mary’s Immaculate Heart, and Russia abandoned its godless ways and Communism fell in many countries. Still, we must continue the practice of the five First Saturdays, because Communism is still in power in countries such as Cuba, North Korea, and China, and there is still persecution and martyrdom of the faithful in those countries. Now, many people wondered ever since we learned about the Fatima prophecy, what exactly did Our Lady mean when she said that “Russia will be converted”? Russia is no longer a Godless Communist country aggressively persecuting Christians and spreading Communism around the world, but still, I wonder, is this the end, the final stage of Russia’s conversion, or is there more to it? While I live the message of Fatima, pray the Rosary, and do the Five First Saturdays of reparation, I secretly hope that there’s more to God’s plan than the liberation of such Communist countries as China, North Korea, Cuba. I hope that God has a plan to convert Russia to his true Catholic Church, and that this plan - a great miracle - will be achieved through the intercession of Mary’s Immaculate Heart. Maybe this will be the way that the Orthodox Churches will finally accept the fullness of truth which is found in the Catholic Church, and then we will have unity again and full communion at the Lord’s Table, with our Orthodox brothers and sisters.

The Orthodox simply will not submit to the authority of the Pope.


**The Orthodox could just as well complain that the Pope will not submit to the authority of an Ecumenical Council.

I think we will get more accomplished if we think in terms of reconcialition and re-establisment of communion, rather than reunification or submission.**

I agree completely with that strategy, bpbasilphx. How do you envision it being employed?

Well that is true and untrue at the same time, the Orthodox don’t reject the Immaculate conception out of hand, they just have a different conception (sorry) of Original Sin.

They also do not reject the Assumption, they just call it the Dormition of the Holy Theotokos, but it is the same idea.

I think reunification would be a lot easier if we actually accepted each other as the two lung pf the one body of Christ…as equals.

If we talk of submission to the superior Holy Father, it will never, ever happen.

Hello Jesse,

I think we all need to step back a little bit to think.

I have stated this before many times, so I am repeating myself unfortunately, but I mean it:there cannot be a re-union of something unless we consider what the original union was like.

So, what does union of the churches mean to you?

I can tell you what it does not mean: It does not mean that the Orthodox churches will become branches of the Roman Catholic church under the Pope.

It does not mean that the Orthodox churches will become something like the Eastern Catholic churches. That is not the model of the first millenium church.

Unity means that [1] we can share a common Faith, [2] share communion across ritual traditions and [3] our priests and bishops can concelebrate the liturgy with one another. That is the complete deal, nothing more and nothing less.

The biggest obstacle to this is that the Roman Catholic church introduced a new dogma in 1870AD, just 139 years ago. It did not even figure into the original split but it is now the most difficult of barriers.

No, I am not referring to the dogma of Papal Infallibility (although that is bad enough), I am referring to the dogma of Universal Jurisdiction.

Universal Jurisdiction never existed in the unified church, in fact it didn’t exist in the west for most of the last millenium. It is a fiction that has been proclaimed a dogma.

That means that it cannot be refuted or reversed by the Roman Catholic church, because the Latin church believes it never makes a mistake in proclaiming dogmas, and is therefore unable to rescind the proclamation.

If the goal is re-unity, it must be a return to the first millenium church, and quite frankly the Roman Catholic church is incapable of that. It has left orbit and cannot come back on it’s own power.

Hello Jesse,

I think we all need to step back a little bit to think.

I have stated this before many times, so I am repeating myself unfortunately, but I mean it:there cannot be a re-union of something unless we consider what the original union was like.

So, what does union of the churches mean to you?

I can tell you what it does not mean: It does not mean that the Orthodox churches will become branches of the Roman Catholic church under the Pope.

It does not mean that the Orthodox churches will become something like the Eastern Catholic churches of these days. That is not the model of the first millenium church.

Unity means that…
[1] we can share a common Faith,
[2] share communion across ritual traditions and
[3] our priests and bishops can concelebrate the liturgy with one another. That is the complete deal, nothing more and nothing less.

The biggest obstacle to this is that the Roman Catholic church introduced a new dogma in 1870AD, just 139 years ago. It did not even figure into the original split but it is now the most difficult of barriers.

No, I am not referring to the dogma of Papal Infallibility (although that is bad enough), I am referring to the dogma of Universal Jurisdiction.

  1. So, then, if anyone says…

[LIST]
*]that the Roman Pontiff has merely an office of supervision and guidance, and not the full and supreme power of jurisdiction over the whole Church,
*]and this not only in matters of faith and morals, but also in those which concern the discipline and government of the Church dispersed throughout the whole world;
*]or that he has only the principal part, but not the absolute fullness, of this supreme power;
*]or that this power of his is not ordinary and immediate both over all and each of the Churches and over all and each of the pastors and faithful:
[/LIST]
**let him be anathema! **
Vatican Council 1870AD, Session 4, Chapter 3

[size=2] Pretty strong words.

[/size] Universal Jurisdiction never existed in the unified church, in fact it didn’t exist in the west for most of the last millenium! It is a fiction that has been proclaimed a dogma.

That means that it cannot be refuted or reversed by the Roman Catholic church, because the Latin church believes it never makes a mistake in proclaiming dogmas, and is therefore unable to rescind the proclamation.

If the goal is re-unity, it must be a return to the first millenium church, and quite frankly the Roman Catholic church is incapable of that. It has left orbit and cannot come back on it’s own power.

I agree Pipper, the Catholics and Orthodox have some pretty similar ideas about St. Mary. I have heard it said by theologians from both sides that the disagreements might be possible to resolve. Also with the filioque, there are hopes to resolve the conflict. What really stands out as a stumbling block, though, is the different understanding of the role of Pope (Bishop of Rome), as Hesychios also pointed out in his excellent quote.

I just wonder, isn’t the fact that Cardinals of the Catholic Church come from all over the globe, from all twenty-something Catholic (Eastern and Roman) Churches, a proof in Eastern Christians’ eyes that the East and West are equal? I mean, our next Pope could be chosen from anywhere, including from the East Asian, African, Ukrainian, Middle Eastern, European, South American or North American Cardinals.

I seem to remember that Cardinals can also choose a Pope from someone who is not a Cardinal himself, and that they at least once chose some obscure priest who was holy but not high on the hierarchy. If this is correct, the next Pope could come from anywhere, literally, where there are Catholic priests. I wonder, if through some inspiration by the Holy Spirit, the Cardinals were to choose a Russian Pope or Greek Pope from the small Catholic communities in Russia and Greece (probably less than 1% in those countries are Catholics), would that bring closer the Orthodox and Catholic Christians to each other?

Harpazo, thanks for the link. That was really informative as far as understanding what sort of things wouuld be expected from both sides. Unfortunatly now I see why it would be so difficult for total reunifiction to occur. Makes me kinda sad.

Joseph V. I think that would be pretty interesting scenario if the next pope was Greek or Russian. I think that there would be a better chance of something benificial happening if they happened to be Greek. Arent they the “closest” to Rome as far as talks and cooperating for certain things?

God bless,
Jesse

Thanks for that. I agreed with most of what Father Hopko wrote. I think the key difficulties will be on:

  1. The immaculate conception
  2. Purgatory and indulgences
  3. Papal infallibility

Fr. Hopko basically asks the RCC to renounce its current views on these three issues. I can’t see such a reversal happening anytime soon, since there isn’t much wiggle room.

I am not sure why he asked for concessions concerning soteriology and the atonement; I should think the Church could survive with various theories about the purpose of the cross. I was surprised, however, that he didn’t mention icons.

Russia is already converted to the true catholic Church–the Holy Orthodox Church.

The Orthodox already hold the fullness of truth.

And you see folks–it is exchanges such as these that tell us there will be no unification any time soon.

However, with God, all things are possible. :slight_smile:

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