Catholic-Orthodox relations strengthened by joint statement

In a significant advancement in Catholic-Orthodox relations, the two churches have released their first joint statement in seven years, underscoring the importance of synodality and primacy.

The document, titled “Synodality and Primacy in the Second Millennium”, presents an overview of the historical journey of both churches, dating back to the Great Schism of 1054.

The joint statement was issued following the 15th plenary session of the theological dialogue commission, held in Alexandria, Egypt from June 1 to 7.

The meeting witnessed the participation of representatives from ten Orthodox Churches alongside 18 Catholic commission members.

The statement highlights Pope Francis’ endorsement of a synodal Church, emphasising the potential for deeper convergence between the Catholic and Orthodox traditions.

Quoting from the Pope’s 2013 apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, the document acknowledges the opportunity for Catholics to learn about episcopal collegiality and synodality from their Orthodox brethren.

“In the dialogue with our Orthodox brothers and sisters, we Catholics have the opportunity to learn more about the meaning of episcopal collegiality and their experience of synodality.”

According to the statement, it “strives to give as far as possible a common reading of that history, and it gives Orthodox and Roman Catholics a welcome opportunity to explain themselves to one another at various points along the way.”

Complexities of synodality and primacy acknowledged

It debunks the notion of a pyramidal church structure with a single governing figure and the idea of a federation of independent churches.

The complexities of synodality and primacy in the Church are acknowledged, highlighting the inadequacy of oversimplified views held by both sides.

This recent statement builds upon the foundation laid by the commission’s previous joint statement in 2016, which examined the state of the Christian Church in the first millennium after Christ.

The document acknowledges the growing efforts within the Catholic Church to promote synodality at all levels and the willingness to differentiate between the pope’s role within the Latin Church and his service to the broader communion of churches.

Observers perceive these distinctions as a positive step towards creating future opportunities for collaboration and understanding.

The joint statement calls for an ongoing dialogue infused with charity, aiming to comprehend synodality and primacy authentically. It encourages a focus on the theological principles, canonical provisions and liturgical practices of the undivided Church in the first millennium.


Catholic News Agency



Additional reading

News category: World.

Tags: , ,