Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Warm Words from Moscow to the Pope

I caution against reading too much into this. However, Rorate Caeli has posted an excerpt from an interview given by Patriarch Alexei to an Italian newspaper in which +Alexei makes some unusually friendly and optimistic comments about +Benedict XVI and the future of Orthodox-Catholic relations. My reasons for caution are first that this interview is incomplete. We don't know what the rest holds. Also fraternal and friendly comments are not unknown (even from Moscow). But sentiment won't resolve the differences that lie between Orthodoxy and the Roman Church. Finally it needs to be remembered that Alexei was giving the interview to an Italian paper. It's not exactly surprising that there would be a positive comment in there about the Pope. Without a doubt +Benedict has been more sensitive to the Orthodox than any of his predecessors going back a long ways. +John Paul II deserves much credit as well, and it is unfortunate that Orthodox Church politics probably kept his overtures from going farther than they did. However, I think we are still quite a ways from overcoming all of the very real differences which exist.

As a side note, we Orthodox are often (and not always unjustly) accused by our Latin brethren of harboring some very nasty anti-Catholics. I have run into a few myself. Anyone who is Orthodox almost certainly can say as much. But what they don't want to admit is that this runs both ways. Many Catholics (especially those of the more traditionalist bent) are virulently hostile to Orthodoxy and make it quite clear that all they are interested in from us is submission. They harbor nothing but dark suspicions towards us and in some cases see us as worse than their own wayward children (Protestants). Clearly to some we are heathens in need of conversion. If you scroll down the linked article to the comments section you may get a glimpse of this. This should not in any way be interpreted as a criticism of Rorate Caeli. I have never seen anything posted by the web master of that site that crossed what I feel are appropriate lines in expressing the Catholic point of view in regards to Orthodoxy. But sometimes the comments there can show a darker side.

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