Tag Archives: ecumenism

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

2010 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: You are witness of these things

Since 1908 the Church has called upon us to join in prayer with
other Christians around the world during the Week of Prayer for Christian
. We do this work of prayer as an education in hope for spiritual and actual Christian unity realizing that the Holy Spirit is the only one capable of bring unity among various groups of Christians. The proposal for a week of prayer was initiated in the USA by Franciscans of the Atonement Father Paul
Wattson and it is held from January 18 – 25. Today the observance is international in scope.

It is generally held that the 1910
World Mission Conference
in Edinburgh, Scotland, marked the beginnings of the
modern ecumenical movement.

2010 WPCU.jpg

In tribute, the promoters of the Week of Prayer for
Christian Unity, the Commission on Faith and Order and the Pontifical Council for
Promoting Christian Unity
, invited the Scottish churches to prepare this year’s
theme.  They suggested: “You are
witnesses of these things
” (Luke 24:48).

The 2010 theme is a reminder that as the
community of faith those reconciled with God and in Christ, “You are witness of
these things
“–witness to the truth of the power of salvation in Jesus Christ
who will also make real his prayer, 
“That all may be one…so the world may believe.” *Witness gives praise
to the Presence who gives us the gift of life and resurrection; by knowing how
to share the story of our faith with others; by recognizing that God is at work
in our lives; by giving thanks for the faith we have received; by confessing
Christ’s victory over all suffering; by seeking to always be more faithful to
the Word of God; by growing in faith, hope and love; and by offering
hospitality and knowing how to receive it when it is offered to us.

to observe the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity are available from the
Graymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute, a ministry of the Franciscan Friars
of the Atonement

For more information visit www.geii.org

Patriarchs meet: Moscow visits Constantinople

Kyrill & Bartholomew.jpgWonderful news: Moscow’s Patriarch Kyril visited Patriarch Bartholomew, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople. This is Kyril’s first foreign trip since being elected Patriarch of Moscow in January 2009.

Why is this event important? Past tensions and subsequent lack of cooperation between the two Sees have stunted the fruitful proclamation of the Gospel. Unity suffered. Also, as the Asia News headline indicates, the gesture of the two patriarchs’ meeting opens the possibility significant dialogue with the See of Rome.

The homilies of each patriarch was a stunning example of grace at work. Content could not be out done but the promise of the Halki’s school of theology on the part of the Turkish government is impressive. I pray that it comes about.

The story of the historic visit is reported by Asia News.

Ecumenical work requires respect & love

Respect and love are essential in the work of ecumenical dialogue, the Pope
observed at a gathering of Orthodox leaders in Rome for the Solemnity of Saints
Peter and Paul. Each year the Patriarch sends a delegation to Rome for June
29th and the Pope reciprocates by sending a delegation to Constantinople for
the feast of Saint Andrew on November 30th to share in prayer, dialogue and
fraternity. Watch the video clip.

A hallmark of Pope Benedict’s petrine ministry is ecumenical
relations with other Christians, most particularly with the Orthodox churches. Yesterday
he said:

“You are welcome guests, dear brothers, who have been sent by His
Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch, to whom I likewise send my warm and
fraternal greeting in the Lord. Let us give thanks together to the Lord for all
the fruits and benefits that the bimillennial celebration of the birth of St.
Paul has brought us. We celebrate together the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul,
the “protôthroni” of the Apostles, as they are invoked in the
Orthodox liturgical tradition, that is, those who occupy first place among the apostles
and are called “the teachers of the ecumene.”

With your presence,
which is a sign of ecclesial fraternity, you remind us of our common commitment
to the pursuit of full communion. You already know, but again today I have the
pleasure of confirming, that the Catholic Church intends to contribute in every
possible way to the reestablishment of full communion. This is in response to
Christ’s will for his disciples, and recalling Paul’s teaching in which he
reminds us that we have been called to “one hope.” In this respect, we
can confidently look forward to a good continuation of the work of the Mixed
International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Orthodox and
Catholic Churches.

This commission will meet in October to address a crucial
theme for relations between East and West, namely, “the role of the Bishop
of Rome in the communion of the Church during the first millennium.” In
effect, the study of this aspect is clearly indispensable for generally getting
to the heart of the question in the current context of the pursuit of full
communion. This commission, which has already accomplished important work, will
be generously received by the Orthodox Church of Cyprus, to whom we express our
gratitude in advance, because fraternal hospitality and the climate of prayer
that will surround our discussions cannot but facilitate our common work and
reciprocal understanding.

I desire that the participants in the Catholic-Orthodox
dialogue know that my prayers will accompany them and that this dialogue has
the complete support of the Catholic Church. With my whole heart I hope that
the misunderstandings and the tensions between the Orthodox delegates during
the last plenary sessions of this commission be overcome in fraternal love, in
such a way that this dialogue be amply representative of the Orthodox.”

On a related note, I can’t help but draw our attention to
one of the ongoing works in the ecumenical movement today is the superb work of
Prior Enzo Bianchi of the Monastery of Bose (in Italy). His monastery has
sponsored a creative renewal in religious life for men and women, a vibrant
program for the intellect, an awareness of the arts, and real fraternity. Bose
is sponsoring the 17th International Ecumenical Conference on Orthodox
this coming September 2009. The program is exciting; the theme is
the spiritual struggle looking keenly on the relation of spiritual struggle
with Christian unity in the contemporary world.

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]yahoo.com.
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