As we celebrate another Week of Prayer for Christianity, what is there to fuel our hope that this isn’t all just an exercise in futility? What’s to celebrate?Read the rest here.
Signals are there that this movement called “ecumenical” does in fact move, that reflection as we go along on an increasing degree of “life together” is shaping our perception of the future in positive ways.
One noteworthy sign of this was the statement by the North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation last October.
For the past forty-five years they have been sifting through the pastoral and doctrinal issues that historically have prevented our churches from sharing a single life of faith, sacraments and witness before the world. But in this document, as indicated by its title, they are getting down to brass tacks: “Steps Towards A Reunited Church: A Sketch of an Orthodox-Catholic Vision for the Future.”
Their listing of what we share is substantive and long. In short: We believe our life as churches to be centered on the Divine Liturgy, the Word of God, and the sacraments from baptism to marriage.
Both churches recognize each other’s bishops as legitimately ordained into the apostolic succession. Both venerate Mary, the Mother of God, and a whole range of holy men and women from every age, many of them common to both our traditions. Both our churches cherish ancient practices that help the faithful grow in holiness, such as reverencing sacred images, fasting, the monastic life, and various forms of contemplative prayer.
All of which pushes the commission members to state:
It is urgent that Orthodox and Catholic Christians find an effective way to realize our common tradition of faith together, and to present the world with a unified testimony to the Lordship of Jesus. To be what we are called to be, we need each other…. To become what we are…we cannot stop short of re-establishing full Eucharistic communion among ourselves.
I have been refraining from posting most of the endless silly articles from the RCC press predicting imminent reunion, but this one is just too in your face to ignore. It is a expose for why there will not be communion between Rome and Orthodoxy anytime in the foreseeable future. It totally ignores almost every point of difference on doctrine between us and it further demonstrates a gravely flawed concept of what it means to be in communion. "Close enough" is clearly acceptable to many in the Roman Catholic Church. It is not in Orthodoxy. There must be full agreement on all essential points of doctrine for us to commune from the same chalice. And since Rome has about a thousand years of additions to the Deposit of the Faith that we are not onboard with (in fairness some are probably resolvable) that's going to be a really major problem.
Vatican I and it's unyielding and crystal clear language is a deal breaker. It is heresy, and we do not and will not accept it as written. But one must also add the Filioque to that list. We don't even recite the same Creed. How can we share the cup?
With that in mind I say let's stop trying to turn the clock back a thousand years and work on things that are in fact doable. The author is correct that we do share a great deal in common. And there are a myriad of common interests. Charitable works and the dangers post by militant sucularists and Islamists are just the two most obvious. One could also add a common witness againts the creeping tide of liberal and relativist theology in many parts of the Christian world, especially among the so called Reformed Churches.
Anyone who sees unity as close enough to imagine is living in a fantasy world. But that doesn't mean we can't work together on meaningful issues and present a common witness to the world on at least some subjects.