RUSSIA-VATICAN - Moscow Patriarchate to Pope: On Easter a gesture of goodwill, but we will not overturn old traditions [AN]

Russian Orthodox Church awaits greater detail of Pope Francis’ idea to celebrate Easter on a single date. But not basing Easter on the first full moon after the spring equinox, as established by the Council of Nicea, “unacceptable” for the Orthodox Russians.


It’s beginning to look as though Francis was making an improvised, offhand comment, intended to convey no more than that, if other churches wish to move to a fixed Easter, then the Catholic Church will raise no objection. In other words, a willingness to go along with someone else’s initiative, in the event that there should be one, rather than a proposal for change originating from the Catholic Church.

At least one other pope has said the same thing, though I don’t remember whether it was St. JP2, in the closing years of his pontificate, or B16.

Well, that was quick. It seems we still have a ways to go in instilling ecumenism in other faith traditions.

As long as the Russian orthodox church continues viewing us as some competitor when we really aren’t ecumenism towards the orthodox will remain stalled. Maybe they will grow out of it like the Anglicans but it looks like the far future still.

Do you see how that might come across to members of the ROC? Not very positively I assure you.

Yes, I do. However, I believe the response to be far from positive. At the very least it reflects complete inflexibility over a date of all things. Seems pretty darn anti-ecumenical to me. And the “to me” part is what a forum is all about. That is why my post was tempered by the phrase “it seems” so as not to appear offensive. Now, if one defines ecumenism as “join us, but we aren’t going to budge on anything no matter how trivial”, then I would say that ecumenism and proselytizing are very close to the same thing.

The date is nothing trivial to the ROC, that is something that needs to be understood. It is a very central part of their faith, even in our own Church people to blows and nearly to open war about the matter in times past. It’s not anti-ecumenical, it’s anti false ecumenism, which I commend them for. There is no point in pretending compromises can be made on areas where it is not viewed as possible for that to occur. Ultimately the ROC don’t have an interest in rejoining Rome, I’ve asked my wife the question several times and her response has always been, ‘What does Rome have to offer us which we do not already have?’.

If the date is trivial the Orthodox could in fairness respond that why don’t Catholics change the date on their side then? It’s not for Catholics to instill any spirit of ecumenism in the Orthodox, that kind of talk only reaffirms old suspicions about Catholicism in some quarters in the Orthodox world.

While I wouldn’t call the date of Easter “trivial” I must disagree with most of your post. A couple weeks’ difference in the celebration of Easter is not a great matter. I do not agree with the Old Calendarist position of making the Old Calendar a central matter of the Faith. Ask me abut issues like Papal Infallibility and the procession of the Holy Spirit, and you will get a different answer.

With all due respect for your wife, reunion with Rome is something all Orthodox should be desiring, as long as essential matters of doctrine are not compromised.

I guess I’ll just have to differ with you and them on this one. I am just glad we have the pope we do, and ministry of Peter that we have, to unify and lead us with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

If the matter of a differing is so trivial then why is is important that all Christians use the same date in any case?.


So, you do realize that some Eastern Catholic churches use the Julian calendar, just like us stubborn, rebellious, arrogant Orthodox. (See, Ukranian Catholic Church in Canada, for one of many examples.)

If you’re going to play the unity-under-the-Pope card, you really should be certain that the uniformity you claim actually exists. Latin praxis is not the sine qua none of Roman Catholicism.

Yes, and I did not call you stubborn, rebellious or arrogant. Unity does not require agreement.

So you think that Easter should be celebrated whenever, because it’s just a " trivial date" and it’s not really important when?

…I’m at a complete loss for words.

No. I did not say that.

It would make no sense to celebrate Easter on just any date. However, there is no morally right way do determine the day, and no doctrine that compels one way or another.

It could be fixed, like Christmas and most Feast, movable to a fixed Easter, like Labor day and Memorial Day, tied to the Jewish Passover, like the Gregorian Calendar, or tied to the Julian Calendar that was in use at the time. Perhaps some other system could be used. I do not think the particulars are important. I am at a loss to understand why anyone would fight over this issue.

But do you not see the irony here? Rome changed it in the first place. (And even some of her own churches have not followed.) Now when Orthodox say, “Thanks, but we’re good,” it seems some Romans are getting bent out of shape yet again? Seriously, get your own house in order. It’s hard to take seriously at times like this, and again when watching how Rome “handles” the ECs. Perhaps yet another “innovation” is not what is needed here.

(And before anyone calls it “just another date”, bear in mind that the ancient churches are the ones who still follow the historical fasts, and hold Lenten-time feasts during Lent…whereas Rome abandoned them. So yes, perhaps to RCs, it really is “just a date”, having grown so far from your roots. But to other Christians, it really matters, affecting liturgy, fasting, etc, in a very profound, daily way.)

On another tack, have any of the Protestant churches responded to the RC statement?

No, and I am a Catholic, not a Roman, so pardon me if I take your post with a grain of salt.

Seriously, get your own house in order.

I do not know what you mean, but if we have the “wrong” date, then that implies there is such a thing as a right date. I fail to grasp the moral implications here.

I am curious on that as well, though the differing denominations I know all use the Gregorian calendar, at least at this time.

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