In January, an Italian Catholic website leaked a draft of the Orthodox — Catholic dialogue on the papal primacy in the first millennium Church. While it was fascinating to see where the dialogue had gone, it was also clear this was not a text approved by both sides. It also gave an inaccurate picture of where the real consensus is in this dialogue. Right now in Vienna, Austria the Catholic — Orthodox dialogue continues. Here are two reports: the first from a Russian news agency and the second from a Catholic news agency:
Catholic, Orthodox Churches to try to overcome millennium-long disagreement
Moscow, September 22, Interfax – A joint international commission on dialogue between the Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church, which began in Vienna on Tuesday, will discuss the Pope’s primacy in the first millennium.
“This is the most complicated subject in the dialogue between the Orthodox and the Catholics, because the attitude toward the bishop of Rome’s ministering is key for the modern Catholic Church,” Hegumen Philipp (Ryabykh) representing the Russian Orthodox Church at the session told Interfax.
The presumption that the Pope has ecumenical jurisdiction goes against Orthodox ecclesiology, which teaches that, while the Orthodox Church preserves unity of faith and church governance, it still consists of several local churches, Father Philipp said, who is a deputy head of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations.
The Vienna session continues the discussion that was started in Cyprus in 2009.
“A draft document was drawn up for the commission’s session last year, and the commission started to consider it but did not finish this process, as the Orthodox had a lot of objections to this text. We expect that the discussion in Vienna on the text of this document will also be quite intensive,” he said.
“Our delegation’s goal is to make sure that this document reflects the Orthodox position and rules out any ambiguities, compromises and wrong interpretations of the patristic views on the bishop of Rome’s ministering,” the priest said.
While it is difficult to reach a consensus on this issue, “this theme should be discussed,” because “this is what separates the Catholics and the Orthodox above all,” he said.
“It needs to be said that the Catholics did not agree to discuss this issue with the Orthodox [Church] for a long time, knowing how radical differences in its interpretation are. The fact that the late Pope John Paul II and then Pope Benedict XVI agreed that this issue be discussed by the commission is quite a benevolent step on the part of the Catholics toward the Orthodox [Church],” he said.
Pontiff Asks Prayers for Catholic-Orthodox Meeting
Commission Again Looking at Papal Primacy in 1st Millennium
VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 22, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Obedience to Christ and today’s challenges to Christianity oblige Christians to be seriously committed to full unity, Benedict XVI says.
The Pope affirmed this today at the end of the general audience when he appealed for prayers for the work of the International Mixed Commission for Theological Dialogue Between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church.
The commission is meeting in Vienna, Austria, through Monday. In the three days of dialogue they have already shared, they’ve been examining the same theme that drew them together in 2009: “The Role of the Bishop of Rome in the Communion of the Church in the First Millennium.”
Noting this theme, the Holy Father said: “Obedience to the will of the Lord Jesus, and consideration of the great challenges that appear today before Christianity, oblige us to commit ourselves seriously in the cause of the re-establishment of full communion among the Churches.
“I exhort everyone to pray intensely for the efforts of the Commission and for a continuous development and consolidation of peace among the baptized, so that we can give the world an ever more authentic evangelical testimony.”
The Catholic co-leader of the meeting is for the first time Archbishop Kurt Koch, the new president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. He was appointed to that role in July.
The Orthodox co-leader is Metropolitan Ioannis Zizioulas of Pergamum.
When the commission concluded their meeting last October on this theme, Cardinal Walter Kasper, then-president of the Vatican’s unity council, characterized the dialogue as “little steps forward in the right direction.”