Thursday, November 15, 2007

A Baby Step Milestone on the Road to Reunion

With great joy I read today that the final document produced by the plenary assembly of the Joint International Commision for Theological Dialogue Between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church contains the seeds of future steps toward reunion. This important assembly was held in Ravenna this October and was prsided over by Cardinal Walter Kaspar and the Metrolitan Ionnis of Pergamo.

On Vatican Radio, Cardinal Kaspar reported that, " for the first time the Orthodox Churches have said yes, this universal level of the Church exists and also at the universal level there is conciliarity, synodality, and authority; this means there is also a primate; according to the practice of the ancient Church, the first bishop is the Bishop of Rome. However, we did not talk of the privileges of the Bishop of Rome, we merely indicated the praxis for futre debate. This document is a modest first step and as such it gives rise to hope, but we must not exaggerate its importance."

Perhaps a modest beginning, but nevertheless historic and important. Pray very much for the continuing success of efforts toward the reunification of communion between these "two lungs of the Church"!

No doubt there are many roadblocks to be passed, but this is such encouraging news. The only sad note is that the Russian Orthodox Church has abandoned the plenary assembly over an inter-Orthodox tussle between Moscow and Constantinople, concerning the recognition of the autonomous Church of Estonia. So let's also pray that this may be resolved, because obviously it is so important that the Russian Orthodox Church participate in these talks.

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