Joint Orthodox-Catholic commission agrees on primacy of Pope but differ on what that means

A very interesting article was in The Canadian Press.

My emphases.

Vatican-Orthodox commission agrees on primacy of Pope; differ on significance

VATICAN CITY – A joint commission working to heal the 1,000-year split between the Catholic and Orthodox churches has agreed the Pope has primacy over all bishops but disagrees over just what that authority permits him to do.

The Joint International Commission for the Theological Dialogue reached the agreement during talks last month in Ravenna, Italy, according to a document being published Thursday.

The Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches were united until the Great Schism of 1054, which was precipitated largely by disagreements over the primacy of the Pope.

Tensions remain strained over Orthodox accusations that the Vatican is seeking converts on traditionally Orthodox territories, particularly in eastern Europe – allegations that Rome denies.

Pope Benedict has said that uniting all Christians and healing the split is a "fundamental" priority of his pontificate.

The theological commission said it agreed in Ravenna that Rome occupied the "first place" in canonical order of the ancient seats of bishops – including Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem.

The commission said it agreed "that the bishop of Rome was therefore the ‘protos’ (first in ancient Greek) among the patriarchs."

"They disagree, however, on the interpretation of the historical evidence from this era regarding the prerogatives of the bishop of Rome as ‘protos,"’ the commission’s document said.

"While the fact of primacy at the universal level is accepted by both East and West, there are differences of understanding with regard to the manner in which it is to be exercised, and also with regard to its scriptural and theological foundations," the document continued.

It said the role of the bishop of Rome – the Pope – in communion with other churches must be studied in greater depth.

The Oct. 8-15 meeting in Ravenna was the second since the Catholic-Orthodox theological dialogue resumed in 2006 after breaking off for six years.

The meeting was marred at the start when delegates from the Russian Orthodox Church walked out over a territorial dispute with a rival Orthodox church.

The Russian Orthodox representative who walked out, Bishop Ilarion, posted the commission’s final document on his website ahead of the official release Thursday. The Vatican confirmed its authenticity.

In his posting, Ilarion noted that the document was adopted without the presence of representatives of the Moscow Patriarchate at the meeting, casting doubt over whether it could be considered to reflect Moscow’s view.

"The Moscow Patriarchate will analyze the Ravenna document and present its conclusions in due course," the posting said.

 

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17 Responses to Joint Orthodox-Catholic commission agrees on primacy of Pope but differ on what that means

  1. J Basil Damukaitis says:

    I pray for the reunion of the two Churches. However, the sticking point will always be the Moscow Patriarchate. As much as Constantinople saw itself as the “New Rome” Moscow now sees herself as the “New Constaninople”. It enjoys influence and prestige and will not easily be swayed. I think any unification will be done in slow stages by some and not be an inclusive event. And I think Moscow will never be a part of it, sadly.

  2. This is very exciting news, even recognizing that any sort of reunification may yet be years away.

    And the initial comment from the Moscow representative, essentially, “we weren’t there, we’ll look this over and tell you what we think of it” is nothing other than what might be reasonably expected.

  3. Ed says:

    Is it possible to find a copy of this document?

  4. kecharitomene says:

    Now this is the authentic way to enter the dialogue of becoming ONE CHURCH, as opposed to the way the Anglicans are using Catholicism not for Christian purposes but rather as a threat toward the Anglican community, especially the Episcopalian arm. The Church is NOT a tool that you can use for leverage. It is not wonder the Pope would not dare to specualte on whether they would enter the Church. The Anglicans don’t actually want to be Catholic, they want to be Anglican. Well, let me tell ya brother, Ours is NOT A democracy. You can drop that junk off at the door when you get here…IF you get here.

  5. Michael says:

    Not to downplay the document, but haven’t the Orthodox always believed in the primacy of Peter? It’s infallibility and supremacy that they don’t support.

  6. vox borealis says:

    Good call Michael–I was going to say the same thing. I have spoken to a number of Orthodox over the years, and most basically accept some form of papal primacy, but the devil is (as they say) in the details of just what that means.

  7. Mark says:

    This does seem simply to state what the Orthodox have always stated. Peter is first on the list. Is there anything new here?

  8. Stu says:

    The Russian Orthodox Bishop who walked is known as “Metropolitan John”. Does anyone know the origin behind such a title.

    -Suburban Stu

  9. Andrew says:

    How does all this relate to the omission of “Patriarch of the West” from the annuario?

  10. EDG says:

    J Basil:

    Moscow’s conception of itself as “Third Rome” is indeed a problem, and it’s a problem within the Orthodox Church(es) as well. I think the Orthodox have got to work it out themselves, because there’s still a lot of hostility between Moscow and Constantinople that is going to prevent much of anything being done between any Orthodox group and Rome.

  11. Cosmos says:

    I am happy with an affirmation from the East that it still sees the Bishop of Rome as the first Patriarch. Just because we have moved past our old biases, rivalries, and jealousies doesn’t mean that our Eastern bretheren have. There are certainly hardliners in the Orthodox world who will consider this very unwelcome news indeed, despite its historical obviousness.
    It also places the truly Universal nature of the Church in front of a lot of forgetful people’s eyes. We should dream of a united Church! Unity would be so wonderful, we are all compelled to hope and pray for it.

  12. prof.basto says:

    “It said the role of the bishop of Rome – the Pope – in communion with other churches must be studied in greater depth.”

    They are the ones who need to study that in greater depth. We already have the
    Dogmatic Constitution Pastor Aeternus , and we cannot concede one
    inch when it comes to a Dogma of the Faith.

    I am very skeptical and I worry a great deal about those watered-down
    consensus, especially when Cardinal Kasper is heading the Catholic delegation
    in the theological talks. It sounds like “minimal common denominator” stuff, of
    the same kind as the joint Lutheran-Catholic Declaration on Justification.

    We must remember Cardinal Ratzinger’s precious and inspired words: “We should not remain infants in faith, in a state of minority. And what does it mean to be an infant in faith? St. Paul answers: It means “tossed by waves and swept along by every wind of teaching arising from human trickery” (Eph 4:14). This description is very relevant today”.

    And we should remember the Canons of the First Vatican Council, especially
    this one, contained in the third chapter of Pastor Aeternus:

    “So, then, if anyone says that the Roman Pontiff has merely an office of supervision and guidance, and not the full and supreme power of jurisdiction over the whole Church, and this not only in matters of faith and morals, but also in those which concern the discipline and government of the Church dispersed throughout the whole world; or that he has only the principal part, but not the absolute fullness, of this supreme power; or that this power of his is not ordinary and immediate both over all and each of the Churches and over all and each of the pastors and faithful: let him be anathema.”

  13. Michael says:

    Let’s be frank. There won’t be a union between these two Churches until the Second Coming of Christ. These documents would be worth every second of time that went into them if we could rest assured that they will lead somewhere, but we can’t. 40 years after Digniatis Humanae we’re actually farther from any reconcilliation than we were right after the Council. The Protestant Churches have become so liberal that they’re barely the same institutions they were 40 years ago, and the Orthodox look at us with disdain because of the inconceivable irreverence we’ve shown towards our liturgy and tradition.

    People need to take a step back and look at just how much of our own tradition has been sacrificed in the name of ecumenism and ask whether it will ever be worth it. The Eastern Churches will never be convinced to return to the Church because of accumulated ecumenical gestures, and likewise, they won’t stay out of the Church due to a lack of them. If the Eastern Church do come to accept the Catholic faith, they’re going to return no matter what the shape of the Pope’s pallium.

  14. Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

    I would like to clarify one point from an Orthodox point of view.
    Primacy is not over any other bishop but rather primacy within the
    assembly of Orthodox/Catholic patriarchs and bishops–A primacy of honor
    and perhaps the primacy is best observed as the primate washing the feet of
    of his brothers in Christ. Intercommunion based on a common faith, with each Patriarchaqt or Autocephalous Church remaining in communion not under anyone else.
    Service (Diakonia) not power leads to Communio.

  15. Matt Q says:

    J Basil Damukaitis wrote,

    “I pray for the reunion of the two Churches. However, the sticking point will always be the Moscow Patriarchate. As much as Constantinople saw itself as the “New Rome” Moscow now sees herself as the “New Constaninople.” It enjoys influence and prestige and will not easily be swayed. I think any unification will be done in slow stages by some and not be an inclusive event. And I think Moscow will never be a part of it, sadly.”

    A very insightful comment. The Blessed Mother’s admonitions at Fatima about Russia are ever immediate. The fall of communism there was only a part of the whole puzzle regarding them.

    kecharitomene wrote,

    “Now this is the authentic way to enter the dialogue of becoming ONE CHURCH, as opposed to the way the Anglicans are using Catholicism not for Christian purposes but rather as a threat toward the Anglican community, especially the Episcopalian arm. The Church is NOT a tool that you can use for leverage. It is no wonder the Pope would not dare to speculate on whether they would enter the Church. The Anglicans don’t actually want to be Catholic, they want to be Anglican. Well, let me tell ya brother, Ours is NOT A democracy. You can drop that junk off at the door when you get here…IF you get here.”

    Agree. There is one way the truly desirous can be Roman Catholic and retain their English liturgical culture. It’s a Roman Catholic parish of Anglican use. This means by right of Pope John Paul II, he has allowed Holy Mass to be offered as it was in England at the time of the Reformation. English Catholics maintained this throughout their persecution to the present day. The Mass was in English then as it is now and ran along side the Latin Tridentine Rite although the Anglican use was not as popular as English society progressed and English Catholics aligned themselves more with the prevalent Tridentine Mass–and was more emphasized. Surely Father Z can elaborate more on this.

    Back from the tangent, the Roman Rite of Anglican use may be a further attraction for Anglicans who may truly desire conversion to the Roman Faith.

  16. Michael says:

    Matt Q,

    What you say about the Anglican Use is not true. It was invented in the 20th century and is based on Cranmer’s Book of Common Prayer (1549), the Anglican service book written to REPLACE Mass in England. The BCP was the fruit of the Protestant Revolution in England and was pretty much the Sarum Use translated into contemporary English and stripped of all things Catholic. Before the Reformation, the Roman Rite according to different uses (Sarum, York, Hereford etc.) was the only Mass celebrated. The Sarum Use, which was most widespread in England and Ireland is entirely in Latin, readings and all. This was the Rite English Catholics like William Byrd used and Queen Mary tried to reintroduce. Use of the vernacular was a Protestant invention. The Anglican Use exists today as a pastoral provision. Returning to the Sarum Rite would have given these parishes a liturgy that was culturally English and authentically Catholic at the same time. But such a move would have been possible in a post-Vatican II world. A censired version of the BCP will have to do.