Wednesday, November 08, 2006

More Orthodox-Catholic discussion

Zenit has part two of the interview with the Orthodox Bishop of Vienna and Austria. A quote that stood out for me:

At this level I can predict many years of exhaustive and difficult work, especially when we come to the issue of universal primacy. Complications will arise not only because of the very different understanding of primacy between the Catholic and Orthodox traditions, but also from the fact that there is no unanimous understanding of universal primacy among the Orthodox themselves.

This fact already became evident during the recent session of the Commission in Belgrade, and the internal disagreement within the family of the Orthodox Churches on this particular issue will be manifested in ways more acute and striking in the future. Thus, a long and thorny path lies ahead.

There is, however, another level to which we should set our sights, and here I mean not so much what divides as what unites us. To be specific, this is the level of cooperation in the field of Christian mission.

Personally, I believe that it is quite premature and unrealistic to expect restoration of full Eucharistic communion between East and West in the foreseeable future. Nothing, however, prevents us, both Catholics and Orthodox, from witnessing Christ and his Gospel together to the modern world. We may not be united administratively or ecclesiastically, but we must learn to be partners and allies in the face of common challenges: militant secularism, relativism, atheism, or a militant Islam.

It is for this reason that, since the election of Pope Benedict XVI, I have repeatedly called for the fostering of ties between the Catholics and the Orthodox Churches through the creation of a strategic alliance for the defense of Christian values in Europe. Neither the word "strategic" nor "alliance" has so far been commonly accepted to describe a collaboration such as this.

Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev makes a good point in that while Benedict may be working steadily towards greater unity with the Orthodox Churches, it's going to be hard to get all of them on board with greater relations with Rome.

Pray hard, brethren.

EDIT: I'll tack this on here since it goes along with it. NCRegister has an interesting article on a meeting between Neocatechumenal Way and Russian Orthodox officials on the possible training of Orthodox priests on more effective ways of evangelization.

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