Friday, October 19, 2007

Catholic-Orthodox Talks Progress

~from Asia News

The results of the latest talks by the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches held in Ravenna (Italy) were definitely positive, this according to the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. Metropolitan Ioannis of Pergamon, one of Commission’s two co-chairs with Card Walter Kasper, expressed a similar opinion in talking to AsiaNews, thus confirming the positive assessment already made by the Holy See.

Ioannis’ statement comes on the eve of another meeting between Benedict XVI and the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, scheduled for Naples (Italy) where the Pope will be on a pastoral visit and where the Patriarch will be receive an honorary degree and be made an honorary citizen of Amalfi.

Ioannis, who played a key role in all the activities according to everyone present at Ravenna, including Catholics, said that the final paper from that meeting on collegiality and authority in the Church was unanimously approved and will be the basis for future sessions of the Unity Commission.

Mgr Eleuterio Fortino, under-secretary at the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, told Vatican Radio that the experts had started to discuss “an issue that is essential to the dialogue between Catholics and Orthodox, a difficult issue,” explaining that “we’re starting to study in detail the evolution of the role of the Bishop of Rome in the Church.”

According to Ioannis, removing any reference to Church unity in the first millennium, which defined the Pope’s role as that of ‘co-operator’ whilst that of the patriarchs as ‘consenting,’ was one of the most important decisions taken. This was done to avoid differing interpretations by the two ecclesiologies, Western and Eastern; the first centred on the fact that the Pope prevails over others; the second which focuses on greater equality” among Church leaders.

“In the Eastern Church, the primacy goes to Constantinople,” he said; “not in terms of power but in terms of initiative and coordination. For the first time, the term primus was used, the meaning it held in the tradition of the first millennium, always within the synodal context.”

For the Orthodox, the conclusions reached by the Commission “were so important that they overshadowed the pullout by the Russian delegation,” due to the presence of the Estonian Apostolic Church, which Moscow does not recognise.

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