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Catholic - Orthodox dialogue PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Friday, 16 November 2007 07:39
Speaking of ecumenical dialogue, Cardinal Walter Kasper, had hopeful things to say about the Catholic-Orthodox dialogue document released Wednesday.

In the document, he said, "the real breakthrough is that for the first time the Orthodox were ready to speak about the universal level of the church" and not simply about the reality of the church on a local or regional level under a patriarch or archbishop.

The document recognizes there must be "synodality" -- responsibility exercised by all the bishops together -- on the universal level, but also that one bishop must hold the place of honor as the primate and that, in the ancient church, that position was held by the bishop of Rome.

The document said, however, that Catholics and Orthodox disagree on how his leadership translated into a concrete exercise of authority and jurisdiction over other bishops.

Cardinal Kasper said the agreement reached in Ravenna was important, but "it is only a first step."

The next phase of the dialogue will be to examine the role of the bishop of Rome -- the pope -- in the first millennium when Catholics and Orthodox still were united. After that discussion, they will need to look at how Catholic and Orthodox teaching on authority diverged and, particularly, on the development within the Catholic Church of the idea of papal infallibility.

"This will not be an easy dialogue," Cardinal Kasper said. "I think it will need a whole decade" to reach agreement.

The Ravenna document, he said, "is an important first step, a basis, but not more. And we hope with God's help and the prayers of many faithful we can go on with this ecumenical pilgrimage with the Orthodox churches."

I asked an Orthodox correspondent of mine what he thought of the document:

I thought the Ravenna statement was well thought out and did a good job not only of responding to Orthodox concerns about the papacy AND re-framing the office for Roman Catholics.

The more I see the folly in both our Churches, the more convinced I become that we need each other and might do well simply to declare victory. . . But a reconciliation, maybe on the order of say a "mixed" marriage. Might that work? I don't know.

What I do know is that--whatever our differences--we simply need each other. Yes there are scary things happening on the world stage, but I think, especially here in the USA, neither side is what we could be existentially. I will leave the dogmatics particulars of this existential reality to the theologians--me I'm just tired of the division.


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