Monday, September 14, 2009

Devoutly to be wished

Could Catholic-Orthodox unity come about sooner than most people think? The Catholic Archbishop of Moscow is sanguine:

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.”

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.

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?


Anonymous said...

Wow! I didn't think anyone in the US was thinking of the small Roman Catholic community in Russia. Never mind the implications of a greater Catholic-Orthodox presence in Eastern Europe, turning the same page together can be a real step in unity.

Rebecca said...

Amazing statement!

eulogos said...

amazing....and unrealistic

Unity could always come within a few months if one church or the other abandoned the claim to be The Church and to always have been the Church. If we abandoned the Papal Claims...or if they acceded to them.

I fantasize about this all the time, believe me.
I have God sending visions of the Theotokos to the fiercely anti-Papal monks of Mt. Athos, to tell them to invite Benedict to come speak to them, to tell them to listen to him, for instance.

I fantasize that Benedict will have us all stop saying the filioque, since it was wrong for us to add it, the creed is true without it and is the original creed promulgated by the council, and since we should not insist on what causes our brother to stumble. That one is not so impossible.... but it wouldn't by itself heal the rift, either.

All things are possible with God, but short of that we will not any of us see this in our lifetimes. Please, please let me be wrong!

Susan Peterson

Nzie (theRosyGardener) said...

Until such statements come from the Orthodox Patriarch, I think the good archbishop is being overly optimistic. From the interactions between our Churches, I don't see much evidence that our hopes for unity are shared. Maybe we can just go back to that original agreement for unity from what, 600 years ago?

Giovanni A. Cattaneo said...

Well I think that we are indeed closer than we were 600 years ago. However I do think that "a few months" may be over optimistic.

I always thought that given the dialogue we may see some real steps being taken in the next 20 years but I did not think I would see it in my lifetime.

I agree I would like to listen to what some of the Patriarchs say before I even consider this statement.

Nzie (theRosyGardener) said...

I'm glad to say I may have been wrong! Check out Zenit's report on a Russian archbishop's visit, everyone! I got my wish about it coming from the Orthodox (it doesn't actually *have* to be the Patriarch).

I'm adding a link below as well to my own blogpost on it (which links to yours).

Nzie (theRosyGardener) said...

Ah, I have a wordpress blog so I can't add it via the Create a Link but here is a "trackback" or "pingback" or whatever they're called:

Catholic-Orthodox Unity @ OneFreeGarden