Ecumenism: June 2011 Archives

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The Church celebrates today great solemn feast of Saints Peter and Paul, it is also the 60th anniversary of Pope Benedict's priestly ordination as well as the day the See of Constantinople sends a delegation to Rome to pray at the tombs of the two great saints and to meet with the Pope. Plus, it is the day in which the metropolitan archbishops who have been appointed in the last calendar year come to Rome to receive the palium (see below). The USA has for archbishops receiving their pallium today: San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Seattle and Los Angelos. All four of these archbishops are under 60. Watch the video clip.

"Non iam dicam servos, sed amicos" - "I no longer call you servants, but friends" (cf. Jn 15:15).

Sixty years on from the day of my priestly ordination, I hear once again deep within me these words of Jesus that were addressed to us new priests at the end of the ordination ceremony by the Archbishop, Cardinal Faulhaber, in his slightly frail yet firm voice. According to the liturgical practice of that time, these words conferred on the newly-ordained priests the authority to forgive sins. "No longer servants, but friends": at that moment I knew deep down that these words were no mere formality, nor were they simply a quotation from Scripture. I knew that, at that moment, the Lord himself was speaking to me in a very personal way. In baptism and confirmation he had already drawn us close to him, he had already received us into God's family. But what was taking place now was something greater still. He calls me his friend. He welcomes me into the circle of those he had spoken to in the Upper Room, into the circle of those whom he knows in a very special way, and who thereby come to know him in a very special way. He grants me the almost frightening faculty to do what only he, the Son of God, can legitimately say and do: I forgive you your sins. He wants me - with his authority - to be able to speak, in his name ("I" forgive), words that are not merely words, but an action, changing something at the deepest level of being. I know that behind these words lies his suffering for us and on account of us. I know that forgiveness comes at a price: in his Passion he went deep down into the sordid darkness of our sins. He went down into the night of our guilt, for only thus can it be transformed. And by giving me authority to forgive sins, he lets me look down into the abyss of man, into the immensity of his suffering for us men, and this enables me to sense the immensity of his love. He confides in me: "No longer servants, but friends". He entrusts to me the words of consecration in the Eucharist. He trusts me to proclaim his word, to explain it aright and to bring it to the people of today. He entrusts himself to me. "You are no longer servants, but friends": these words bring great inner joy, but at the same time, they are so awe-inspiring that one can feel daunted as the decades go by amid so many experiences of one's own frailty and his inexhaustible goodness.

It's like having your favorite but not too seen aunt Gretchen over the house for coffee to remember what she looks like and to keep up some appearances of genuine love. I shouldn't make light of such encounters; they are important. It's tradition and tradition is a very good thing. On the feast of Saints Peter and Paul a delegation is sent to Rome to meet the Pope, to exchange fraternal greetings, to listen to a brief discourse that's on the mind of the Pope, to hear what the Patriarch of Constantinople has to say, etc. The whole thing is repeated on November 30 when Rome sends a delegation to Constantinople for the feast of Saint Andrew. The trouble is, does anything concrete result from these yearly meetings? What are the implications of this type of high level meeting?  Note the Pope's perspective and his hope. There is an important rhythm of dialogue that happens in coming to understand human and ecclesial complexities which have an end in mind. Two of the Pope's paragraphs are noted below. 

The Orthodox delegation included: His Eminence, Emmanuel, metropolitan of France and Director of the Office of the Orthodox Church to the European Union, Bishop Athenagoras, Bishop of Sinope and auxiliary to the metropolitan of Belgium and Archimandrite Maximus Pothos, vicar general of the metropolitan of Switerland.

Watch the video report from H2O News.

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We follow with great attention the work of the Mixed Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church as a whole. From a purely human point of view, one might have the impression that the theological dialogue is having trouble in progressing. In reality, the rhythm of dialogue is linked to the complexity of the themes being discussed, which call for an extraordinary effort of study, of reflection and of reciprocal openness. We are called to continue this course together in charity, invoking light and inspiration from the Holy Spirit, in the certainty that He wishes to lead us to the full accomplishment of the will of Christ: that they may all be one (John 17:21). I am particularly grateful to all the members of the Mixed Commission and in particular to the co-Presidents, His Eminence the Metropolitan of Pergamum Ioannis and His Eminence Cardinal Kurt Koch, for their tireless dedication, their patience and their competence.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]



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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Ecumenism category from June 2011.

Ecumenism: January 2011 is the previous archive.

Ecumenism: September 2011 is the next archive.

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