Orthodox not interested in reunion with Rome

When it comes to theology, the Catholic Church and the Orthodox churches are very close.

We accept the same Nicene Creed, we recognize each other’s priestly and episcopal ordinations, as well as the sacraments of baptism, confession and Eucharist.

Catholic and Orthodox teaching on morals are also quite compatible, with both being more conservative than their Protestant colleagues.

The touchy issue has always been the role of the papacy, but Pope John Paul II invited a worldwide dialogue on this topic, showing that the Vatican is open to a less intrusive role for the pope in the Eastern churches than in the West.

There were even attempts to resurrect the title of patriarch of the West for the bishop of Rome, in order to distinguish his robust role in the Western church from his role in the East.

Rome is very much interested in improved relations with the Orthodox. It is deferential to Orthodox feelings.

For example, the pope will not visit a country where a majority of the population is Orthodox without an invitation from the Orthodox church.

An invitation from the political leadership is not sufficient.

Rome has constantly reached out to the Orthodox churches, especially to the patriarchs of Constantinople and Moscow.

Relations with the patriarch of Constantinople have improved significantly since the Jerusalem meeting of Pope Paul VI with Patriarch Athenagoras in 1964 and lifting of mutual excommunications in 1965.

Popes and the ecumenical patriarch meet so frequently that it is now hardly newsworthy.

It took much longer for a pope to meet with the Russian patriarch, which finally occurred in Cuba last year.

The meeting between Francis and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow was probably as much a reward to the pope for his opposition to President Barack Obama’s threat to bomb Syria as it was a show of ecumenical progress. Continue reading



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