It is possible that Archbishop Pezzi is being a bit too hopeful; there is, after all, the difference between how Catholics and Orthodox view divorce, for one thing, and there are also differences on the ground in terms of how some Orthodox view the issue of artificial contraception--though, to be fair, many Catholics have work to do in terms of embracing and upholding this teaching as well. Still, it's rather nice to hear this view from Moscow on the subject of Catholic-Orthodox unity.
The Catholic Archbishop of Moscow has given a remarkably upbeat assessment of relations with the Orthodox Church, saying unity between Catholics and Orthodox could be achieved “within a few months.”
In an interview today in Italy’s Corriere della Sera newspaper, Archbishop Paolo Pezzi said the miracle of reunification “is possible, indeed it has never been so close.” The archbishop added that Catholic-Orthodox reunification, the end of the historic schism that has divided them for a millennium, and spiritual communion between the two churches “could happen soon, within a few months.”
“Basically we were united for a thousand years,” Archbishop Pezzi said. “Then for another thousand we were divided. Now the path to rapprochement is at its peak, and the third millennium of the Church could begin as a sign of unity.” He said there were “no formal obstacles” but that “everything depends on a real desire for communion.”
On the part of the Catholic Church, he added, “the desire is very much alive.”
Archbishop Pezzi, 49, whose proper title is Metropolitan Archbishop of the Mother of God Archdiocese in Moscow, said that now there are “no real obstacles” on the path towards full communion and reunification. On issues of modernity, Catholics and Orthodox Christians feel the same way, he said: “Nothing separates us on bioethics, the family, and the protection of life.”
Also on matters of doctrine, the two churches are essentially in agreement. “There remains the question of papal primacy,” Archbishop Pezzi acknowledged, “and this will be a concern at the next meeting of the Catholic-Orthodox Commission. But to me, it doesn’t seem impossible to reach an agreement.”
Imagine what could happen if Catholic and Orthodox were to reunite. Imagine the sort of Christian witness that could result from such a powerful sign of unity. It's more than something we ought to wish for; it's something we should pray for, all of us, on both sides of this sad historical divide.
UPDATE: More signs to watch?