[quote=Mickey]I think the Orthodox agree with these doctrines but don’t realize it! Sometimes it’s a matter of semantics. Sadly there is a long history of hurt and distrust. It could take a while.
These are really complicated issues that can’t all be bundled up as a simple yes and no. No Church should be expected to abandon beliefs rooted in scripture and patristic tradition. But have Catholics adequately formulated their own beliefs? Could these same beliefs be expressed differently in such a way as to respect Orthodox scruples regarding other agreed doctrines? It’s one thing to be attached to beliefs and another to be attached to the mere words (invariably imperfect) we use in describing them.
Let’s take a few examples:
Papal Supremacy: Is the Catholic Church really clear on distinguishing between the authority the Pope exercises in the West as its Patriarch, and that he exercises with respect tot he whole Church as Supreme Pontiff?
Purgatory: Does the word “purgatory” with its connotations of “cleansing through Hell-like fire” obscure a common belief in the need for temproal amends for sin, even after death?
Filioque: Could not the Church offer a formulation that respected the two very different ways in which the Holy Spirit proceeds (sent by the Father, but called by the Son)?
Be that as it may, we shouldn’t be trapped into thinking that only Catholics should rethink the way they articulate their beliefs and practices. Are Othodox teachings regarding marital, sexual and reproductive ethics as rigorous as they should be? Are all beliefs not explictly expressed in the terms of the Greek Fathers to be ipso facto suspected of heresy? Are national Churches a scriptural, traditional or even valid organizing principle of ecclesiology?
Let’s also not forget that the Oriental Orthodox (Copts, Syriacs, Armenians, etc.) with whom, until recently, both Catholics and Eastern Orthodox had severe differences in Christological formulations, give us far less grief over typically Catholic doctrines than do the Greek and Russian Churches, for example.
Once we reach the point where we can acknowledge each other as speaking the truth in different (and changeable) words, or in holding beliefs that only differ in inessentials, then and only then will we be ready for organic unity. This requires more repentence, more forgiveness, and more talking — lots and lots of talking.
The alternative, if we really come to believe in each others irreconcilable heresy, is to “poach” believers from one another, a process which historically favours the Catholic Church. http://forums.catholic.com/images/icons/icon6.gif
But personally I am not all that keen on the thought of waiting another 2,000 years for a process of individual “conversions” or “partial unions” to make us “one”. So I am committed to seeing ecumenism work (albeit with no compromise over truth), even if I may not ultimately see the fruits in my lifetime.