Thursday, October 06, 2005

Spokesman for the Orthodox

If there’s a son of the Eastern Church who in the past years has given proof of confronting the thorny question of the primacy that still divides Catholics and Orthodox with a view free of old prejudices, this is Ioannis Zizioulas, Metropolitan of Pergamum, member of the Synod of the Ecumenic Patriarchate of Constantinople. It was he who led the Constantinople delegation that came to Rome at the end of June to pay homage to the new bishop of the Eternal City on the occasion of the patronal festival of Saints Peter and Paul. It will be he, recognized by all as one of the most authoritative Orthodox theologians living, who will be co-president of the Orthodox part of the International Commission of dialogue between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches that, after years of troubled existence should resume meeting next autumn, to place the very discussion of the primacy itself on the agenda. Given these premises, it doesn’t take much to imagine that in this coming discussion the historical analyses and the reflections themselves, matured over the years, by this gentle and hieratic metropolitan, – the same that he outlines in detailed fashion to 30Days in this interview – will constitute a more than authoritative point of reference.

Read the complete article Where the Eucharist is, there is the Catholic Church from 30 Days.

This interview is really worth reading. The basic premise of the Metropolitan's ideas surrounding a reconciliation between West and East is that a synod cannot operate without a primus. The local Churchs are bound together in a Universal Church through a universal primus, with in a reunited Church would be the Successor of Peter.

However, as His Eminence the Metropolitan points out in the interview (though not in so many words), the devil is in the details. However, he does have confidence in Rome's new bishop.

One last question. You knew Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI. What do you think the approach and contribution of the new Pope to these issues could be?

ZIZIOULAS: I had the honor and privilege of meeting the then Cardinal Ratzinger in the early eighties when we were members of the International Commission on the official Theological Dialogue between the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox Churches. He is a great theologian and an expert in ecclesiology, both Western and Eastern. In his new capacity as Pope he can certainly contribute decisively to the convergence between the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox understanding of primacy. In the past he made some important suggestions for the solution of this problem. It may prove to be providential that he is Pope at this crucial moment of the discussion of this matter.

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