Category Archives: Ecumenism

Pope gives Anglicans a path to union with the Catholic Church

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in the name of Pope Benedict, is providing a formal way (a canonical structure) of allowing Anglicans to enter in Full Communion with the Catholic that sets up a structure similar to that of Opus Dei. Instead of calling the structure a “prelature” it is being called a “Personal Ordinariat.” Many things attributed to the Anglican Communion may be brought into their being Catholic including the Liturgy, married clergy, and other customs not in conflict with the Roman faith.

This step is a concrete realization of the hard work done in the ecumenical dialogues the goal of which is full, visible union in the Church of Christ.

Read the CDF’s statement
Read the joint statement of the Archbishops of Westminster and Canterbury

Speculation of East-West Reunion is too premature

Met. John of Pergamon.jpg

John Zizioulas of Pergamon sent a letter to the Archbishop of Greece and to all
Metropolitans of the Church of Greece reflecting on their acerbic and
uninformed opinion regarding theological dialogue with the See of Rome. Rigid adherence to one’s opinion is sinful. Metropolitan John is a consequential theologian and therefore I think his
insight matters. Clearly one gets the impression he distrusts imprudent public
speculation as to when and how a “reunion of the Orthodox and Catholic Churches”
is to take place. A too hopeful stance is unrealistic and does not account for
the continued dogmatic, ecclesiological differences yet to be resolved. One
wonders if the Catholic theologians and media people actually do their homework
or whether clichés is all they know. There is reason to believe we want to see partial reality.

Your Eminence,

Given that much turmoil has
been unduly created by certain circles, on the subject of the official
theological Dialogue between Orthodox and Roman Catholics, and that views have
also been expressed, which often range between inaccuracy and open falsehood
and slander, I am hereby addressing Your affection in order to clarify the

1. The aforementioned theological Dialogue does not constitute a
concern of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and much less, that of a specific
person, but is something that is taking place upon the decision of all the
autocephalous and autonomous Orthodox Churches without exception. Specifically
with regard to the present period of the Dialogue, during which the undersigned
has the co-chairmanship from the Orthodox side, the agreement of all the
Orthodox Churches for the continuation of the Dialogue has been recorded in
Memoranda signed by the venerable Primates of the Orthodox Churches, which are
hereto attached in photocopy.  As Your Eminence will see when reading
these Memoranda, even the most holy Church of Greece – and in fact with a
Synodical decision – has admitted that “despite the existing difficulties,
which spring from the provocative activities of Unia to the detriment of the
flock of the Orthodox Church, the said Theological Dialogue must
continue.”  Consequently, those opposed to the said theological
Dialogue are doubting and judging pan-Orthodox decisions, which have been
reached synodically. By claiming solely as their own the genuine conscience of
Orthodoxy, these people are in essence doubting the Orthodoxy not only of
certain persons – as they misguidedly insist – but of the very Primates and
sacred Synods of all the most holy Orthodox Churches.

2. The same things apply
in the case of the said Dialogue.  We are informed that a certain
professor in his letter to the Reverend Hierarchs is censuring the topic of
primacy as a chosen topic for the theological Dialogue, and believes that the
Dialogue should be concerning itself with other matters.  But the said
professor is either ignorant of, or indifferent to, the fact that – again – the
topic of the Dialogue was decided on at a pan-orthodox level. The attached
Memoranda, signed by all the Primates of the Orthodox Churches, testify to and
verify this.  The most holy Church of Greece thus accepts that “this
discussion (regarding Unia) can, for the sake of facilitating the course of the
Dialogue, be conducted within the framework of ecclesiology through the prism
of the primacy”.  This is precisely what we normally intend to do,
during the forthcoming discussion of the subject “The Primacy during the
2nd Millennium”, which is also when Unia first appeared. The remaining
topics that the said professor referred to will by no means be overlooked by
the Dialogue. However, during the present phase, as decided at an
inter-orthodox level from the beginning of the Dialogue, the focal point of the
discussion is Ecclesiology. It is duly respected and legitimate, for the said
professor – or anyone else – to have a different point of view, but it is
inadmissible to be crying out that Orthodoxy is in danger because the Primates
who are shepherding Her do not share his opinion.  Where are we heading as
a Church, my Reverend holy brother?

3. It is being propagated very falsely and
that the signing of the union of the Churches is imminent! A
professor emeritus of Theology, who is well known for his ill-will towards my
person, had visited a Hierarch of the Church of Greece and had told him that he
knew with certainty (!) that the union had already been signed (in Ravenna!)
and that the relative announcement was a matter of time!!!  Clergy and
laity have approached me and asked me if it is true that the union is to be
signed in Cyprus, in October!  Obviously, a feeling of unrest is being
attempted among the people of God through this behaviour, with unpredictable
consequences for the unity of the Church.  However, those who are
disseminating these things are fully aware (as long as they have not been
blinded by empathy, fanaticism or a mania for self-projection), firstly, that
the ongoing theological Dialogue has yet to span an extremely long course,
because the theological differences that have accumulated during the one
thousand years of division are many; and secondly, that the Committee for the
Dialogue is entirely unqualified for the “signing” of a union, given
that this right belongs to the Synods of the Churches.
  Therefore, why all
the misinformation? Can’t the disseminators of these false “updates”
think of what the consequences will be for the unity of the Church?  «He
who agitates (God’s people) shall bear the blame, whoever he may be» (Galatians

Your Eminence,

The responsibility of all of us, and mostly of the
bishops who have been appointed by God to cater to the safeguarding of the
canonical unity of their flock, is an immense one.

What is being jeopardized is
ecclesiological: What is the authority and the prestige of Conciliar decisions?
Do we conform to the Conciliar decisions as we are already doing – and being
attacked for doing so – or do we conform to the “zealots” of
  Can there be an Orthodoxy and Dogmas without any Conciliar

We ask you to please place yourself on the matter, before we are led
to a complete demerit of Conciliar decisions, and before Your flock
disintegrates because of negligence on our part.

In humility and in awareness
of episcopal responsibility, we submit the above to Your affection and judgment
and remain, 

in Athens the 26th of September 2009

With Respect, honour and love
in the Lord

+ John of Pergamon

Orthodox Co-Chairman of the Committee for the
Theological Dialogue between Orthodox and Roman Catholics

Catholics and Orthodox unite? Solidarity possible?

Good question. Not a question that you hear with any degree of seriousness in the Church among the “middle management” and met with wonder among the laity. In the recent past tensions have been fired up in various circles. The question of unity among the Catholics and Orthodox has been the lightening rod between the two churches for a long time. One can’t forget the tensions over the establishment of Catholic dioceses in Russia or the refusal of the previous Russian Patriarch to allow John Paul II to visit Russia and the walking out of high level theological discussions of the Orthodox, etc. Now none of this is meant to point figures at any one church official or way of proceeding as much as it is to remember recent history and to note where we have come in a short span of time.

In a recent visit of the new head of ecumenical relations of the Russian Orthodox Church, Archbishop Hilarian, to Pope Benedict, this question of closer union has been raised.
Watch the H2O News video clip.

Build Together the City of God, Pope says to Catholic & Orthodox

following is the text Benedict XVI sent to Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of
the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, on the occasion of the
11th Inter-Christian Symposium, which began today in Rome.

Through you,
venerable brother, in your capacity as president of the Pontifical Council for
Promoting Christian Unity, I have the pleasure and joy of sending a warm and
auspicious greeting to the organizers and participants of the 11th
Inter-Christian Symposium, promoted by the Franciscan Institute of Spirituality
of the Pontifical University Antonianum and by the Aristotle Orthodox
Theological Faculty of Thessalonica, planned in Rome from Sept. 3-5.

I am happy
first of all for this initiative of fraternal encounter and exchange on the
common aspects of spirituality, which is beneficial for a closer relationship
between Catholics and Orthodox. In fact, these Symposiums, which began in 1992,
address important and constructive topics for reciprocal understanding and unity
of intention. The fact that it takes place alternatively in a territory of
Catholic or Orthodox majority also allows for real contact with the concrete,
historical, cultural and religious life of our Churches.

In particular, this
year you wished to organize the Symposium in Rome, city that offers all
Christians indelible testimonies of history, archaeology, iconography,
hagiography and spirituality, strong stimulus to advance toward full communion
and above all, the memory of the Apostles Peter and Paul, Protothroni, and of
so many martyrs, ancient witnesses of the faith. Of them, St. Clement of Rome
wrote that “suffering … many insults and torments, they became a most
beautiful example for us” (Cf. Letter to the Corinthians, VI,1).

St Augustine bishop.jpg

The topic
chosen for the next meeting: “St. Augustine in the Western and Eastern
Tradition” — argument intended to be developed in collaboration with the
Patristic Institute Augustinanum — is most interesting to reflect further on
Christian theology and spirituality in the West and in the East, and its
development. The Saint of Hippo, a great Father of the Latin Church, is, in
fact, of fundamental importance for theology and for the West’s very culture,
whereas the reception of his thought in Orthodox theology has revealed itself
to be rather problematic

Hence, to know with historical objectivity and
fraternal cordiality the doctrinal and spiritual riches that make up the
patrimony of the Christian East and West, is indispensable not only to
appreciate them, but also to promote better reciprocal appreciation among all

Therefore, I express cordial wishes that your Symposium is fruitful
in that it discovers doctrinal and spiritual convergences that are useful to
build together the City of God, where his children can live in peace and in
fraternal charity, based on the truth of the common faith
. I assure you of my
prayer for this end, asking the Lord to bless the organizers and the
institutions they represent, the Catholic and Orthodox speakers and all the participants.
May the Grace and peace of the Lord be in your collaborators and in your minds!

In Castel Gandolfo,

August 28, 2009

Benedictus PP. XVI

Nuns become Catholic

All Saints nuns.jpgYou may have seen the story of 10 nuns come into full communion with the Catholic Church. The ceremonial aspect of full communion was yesterday but the journey to that point was long in coming individually and corporately. Archbishop Edwin O’Brien of Baltimore received the nuns and is working with them to become a diocesan right community.

Read a story about the event and another leading up to September 3.

The story of these nuns coming into full communion with the Catholic Church is reminiscent of a similar gesture many years ago of the Friars and Sisters of the Atonement also leaving the Episcopal Communion. They are known today as Franciscan of the Atonement doing ecumenical work for the Church.

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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