This week, the Joint Commission for the Theological Dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church is meeting in Cyprus to discuss the crucial issue of the role of the “Bishop of Rome in the Communion of the Church During the First Millennium”. This is THE critical obstacle to unity between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, and I am very happy to see that they are discussing it.
However, some people are not so happy:
MEMBERS of Orthodox Christian unions along with clerics and monks yesterday disrupted a Paphos conference between Orthodox and Catholic Christians.
The unions, monks from Stavrovouni monastery and Larnaca clerics were protesting against the conference and demanding that Archbichop Chrysostomos II cancel it.
It was day one of the conference of the Joint Commission for the Theological Dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church.
The protesters claimed the dialogue between the two churches aimed in the submission of the Orthodox Church to the Pope.
The archbishop expressed his displeasure at the protest and asked the participants to visit him on Monday.
The Joint Commission is made up of representatives of the Orthodox and Catholic Churches and aims in restoring communion between them.
The two churches split in the 11th century in what became known as the Great Schism.
The protest caused the cancellation of the programme.
Paphos Bishop Georgios said everyone stresses that “there are differences, there are serious differences; a thousand years of division have increased our differences.”
“But times today necessitate reconciliation, despite our Churches going through hate and animosity, today we understand that we need to cooperate,” Georgios said.
I understand the history behind the resistance of some Orthodox to ecumenical dialogue. They are afraid it will be a re-occurrence of the Council of Florence, which most Orthodox see as a capitulation of Orthodox bishops to the demands of papal primacy, mostly for political reasons. Yet I still find their reaction sad. Even if they believe that reunion will only occur if Rome submits to the demands of Orthodoxy, is not dialogue a place to start that process? How can it hurt? No Orthodox bishop today is saying that they accept the Vatican I definitions of papal primacy, so why do they fear that this might occur?
Pray that all those involved in these conferences – as well as the protesters – might have a deep desire for unity in the Body of Christ, have confidence in the Holy Spirit to guide these discussions as He wills, and work to make that happen.