The Patriarch of Constantinople believes that only historical differences rather than dogmas separate Orthodoxy and Catholicism, hence their unity is inevitable

The Patriarch of Constantinople believes that only historical differences rather than dogmas separate Orthodoxy and Catholicism, hence their unity is inevitable.

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Head of Phanar in Athos persuades monks to unite with Catholics

Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople with the brethren of Athos at the service at the Notre Dame de Saint-Remy Abbey in Rochefort. Photo: Facebook

The Patriarch of Constantinople believes that only historical differences rather than dogmas separate Orthodoxy and Catholicism, hence their unity is inevitable.

Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople stated that there are only historical rather than dogmatic controversies between Orthodox Christians and Catholics. He said this during his last visit to the Holy Mount Athos.

In particular, according to the UOJ sources, during a visit to the Greek monastery Pantokrator, Patriarch Bartholomew, in the presence of the brethren and guests of the monastery, claimed that the unity of the Orthodox Church with Roman Catholics was inevitable.

In his opinion, the division that now exists between the Orthodox and Catholics has historical roots but is not in the field of dogma.

Patriarch Bartholomew is convinced that Catholics are “exactly the same Christians as we are”. He also emphasized that Pope Francis’s gift of holy relics of St. Peter the Apostle is a testimony of good graces of the Catholic Church in relation to the Orthodox Church.

The UOJ sources said that during the speech of Patriarch Bartholomew, Archimandrite Gabriel, Abbot of Pantokrator monastery, Archimandrite Alexy, Abbot of Xenophontos monastery, Archimandrite Ephraim, Abbot of Vatopedi monastery, brothers of several monasteries and guests were present. Most of the brethren of monasteries after such words of the head of Phanar were perplexed, but none of those present protested to Patriarch Bartholomew. In addition, some monks, after the words of the head of Phanar that unity with the Catholics is inevitable, cried.

According to the eyewitnesses, numerous patriarchal guards did not allow anyone from the brethren to record the speech of Patriarch Bartholomew.


Amen! May it come to pass, whether I am alive to see it or not.


How would the Russian Orthodox react?


My guess is that Patriarch Kirill will name himself the Ecumenical Patriarch and declare the Greeks to be in schism.


Sounds encouraging. Jesus prayed that they be one. It would be a historical moment if it happens.


I wish it was so but many Orthodox, especially those who look to Moscow consider him to be schismatic/heretical. I can forsee Patriarch Kirill usurping him and becoming the Patriarch of Constantinople in the not too distant future.

That’s an interesting scenario.

Is it too much of a stretch to say that, ever since the bad blood between Moscow and Constantinople over the Ukrainian situation, there are now two Orthodox communions — Russian Orthodox on the one hand, and the rest of Eastern Orthodoxy on the other hand? Or is that an over-simplification?

I’m not sure. But it sure feels that way from my limited perspective. In my opinion, there is no single Orthodox church.

That’s kind of the way things seem to be rattling out. Given that scenario, I don’t think it’s a stretch at all to envision a future in which non-Russian Orthodox and Rome will find a way towards communion, while Moscow will sit on the sidelines as a kind of “rump Orthodoxy”, still in a state of schism.

I mean no disrespect in phrasing it that way. I revere all of the national and ethnic Orthodox churches.

I hope it is true. I want this split to end in my lifetime.


In all seriousness, that’s the only thing that has prevented the last three or so popes and +Bartholomew from resolving the schism . . .

That is not a possibility or concern. The synod of the Greek church, not Orthodoxy as a whole, selects their patriarch.

However, noise has been made for quite some time, that Moscow should be elevated to first inn primacy . . .

oversimplification :slight_smile:

AFAIK, despite their split, the rest of the canonical churches are in communion with both (except for the competing Ukrainian churches of course, and setting aside that the UCC is the historical church of the Ukraine . . .()

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You don’t say! I didn’t know the situation was that positive.

Circumstances being what they are now, might the rest of the Orthodox churches just tell the ROC, “we are going to heal the schism, with or without you, your choice”?

that’s a good question.

But keep in mind that the ROC is over 80% of orthodoxy, too . . .

I don’t think I’ve seen comments like this before. They are encouraging.

Wow. Do you think the recent tensions between Constantinople and Moscow increase prospects for communion between Rome and Constantinople or decrease it?

Did not realize that 80% of the Orthodox are Russian. That does bring things into perspective.


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they’re not helping . . .

we probably need a generational change in Moscow . . .

There is already a real schism between the Moscow and Constantinople Patriarchates and has been since October 2018. I don’t see Moscow taking over the title of EP without a pan-Orthodox acclamation, even if de facto Moscow is looked to for real leadership (Constantinople received pretty much no support in the aforementioned schism).

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I do hope that our two communions unite but, unfortunately, I do not see it happening for a very long time.

The problem partly rests on the fact that Patriarch Bartholomew cannot speak for all the Eastern Orthodox churches in the way the pope can for Catholics. Full re-union would have to be, to be full, re-union between the Catholic Church and the sixteen autocephalous Eastern Orthodox churches. I do not see the Russian Orthodox Church, which is by far the largest of them, agreeing with Patriarch Bartholomew.

There are quite a lot of points of disagreement between the Catholic and Orthodox communions. I do not know whether they can all simply be described as accidents of history or if some of them are real doctrinal differences. For example, our communions disagree on the nature of original sin and the need for the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady. That seems to me more doctrinal than just historical.

They just had one of those, but it did not help. With the collapse of Communism, the Patriarch in Moscow has been able to reassert itself as a third Rome and a partner/patron to the Russian government. Going from Moscow to Constantinople would probably be seen as a demotion, and so unlikely.

Those things work against uniting with Catholics, so at least a generational change is needed.

Mostly because the Orthodox (and some Latins) misunderstand what original sin really means…for example, no one incurs Adam’s guilt in a literal personal manner. At the end of the day, the Immaculate Conception means Our Lady was a Saint from the very first moment of her conception. Full of grace. The fact that the Byzantine liturgy celebrates her conception indicates that there was something special about her even from that first moment.

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