In the middle of
the annual exercise of prayer and
study for Christian Unity, the Vatican’s daily news paper, L’Osservatore Romano,
interviewed Bishop Brian Farrell, LC, secretary of the Pontifical Council for
Promoting Christian Unity. The interviewer asked Bishop Farrell about problems
in the ecumenical quest with the Orthodox Church, and his answer is below.
are examining the crucial point of our differences on the Church’s structure
and way of being and operating: the question of the role of the Bishop of Rome
in the Church communion of the first millennium, when the Church in the West
and East was still united. After profound studies and discussions, the members
of the Theological Commission have come to realize the enormous difference
between the lived, assimilated, and narrated historical experience in Western
culture and the historical experience perceived in the Eastern vision of
things. Every historical event is open to different interpretations. The
discussion has not led to a real convergence.
But it is also true that if we want to find a consensus, what matters from the start is to clarify the doctrinal and theological principles that are at play in those events and that are decisive for remaining faithful to Christ’s will for his Church. Thus it was decided to prepare a new base document in a theological key. I am convinced that this is the correct path.
Therefore, when we speak of new difficulties, it is not a matter of insurmountable difficulties, but of a true opportunity. It is clear that the discussion will be neither easy nor quick. It seems to me, however, that there is a growing conviction that unity is possible; the circumstances of today’s world are moving the Churches in this direction. In my opinion it is urgent for Catholic theology to work out a more concrete vision, a model of what awaits us at the moment of full visible communion. That way, the Orthodox brethren will be able to have trust, overcoming the enslaving fears of the presumption of superiority that is typical of the West. We must surely reaffirm what the council said about the equal dignity of all rites, the respect due to the institutions, traditions, and disciples of the Eastern Churches and so many other things.
Read the entire interview with Bishop Brian Farrell: Benedict XVI’s Push Toward Unity .pdf