Wow! This is a Big Deal!

Orthodox leaders to hold first ecumenical council in 1200 years in Istanbul. This is going to have a big impact on the future of Catholic/Orthodox relations.  God guide them!

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  • One of the commentors at HuffPo, who seems to be an Orthodox priest, makes this distinction:

    There are several mistakes in the article. First the Eastern Orthodox Church has held many councils since the 7th Ecumenical Council in 787. The pan-Orthodox Council planned in 2016 will not be an Ecumenical Council. It will be a great and holy synod. Later, if it is accepted by the Church as an Ecumenical Council, will it be an Ecumenical Council.

    Even so, it is a Very Good Thing, and my hope is that it will be a significant step toward the full unity of East and West.

    Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, and kindle in them the fire of your Love.
    Send forth your Spirit, and they shall be created,
    and you will renew the face of the earth.
    O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations, Through Christ Our Lord, Amen.

  • Mark S. (not for Shea)

    Very good thing.
    Do you think Voris will read something sinister in their using the word “Istanbul” instead of “Constantinople?” 😉

    • Say, why did “Constantinople” get the works?

      • Dan Berger

        Isn’t “Istanbul” an elision or worn-down version of “Constantinople”? That’s what I’ve heard. About the way Wooster, Ohio, is an elision of “Worcester.”

        • Not directly; it seems to derive from the kind of civic pride that drives New Yorkers and San Franciscans to refer to their home towns simply as “The City”:

          Meanwhile, for those who need a history lesson:

          • Hematite


          • I prefer the version by “They Might Be Giants.” (I can’t explain the Daffy Duck cartoon, but it works, so…)

            • TMBG is how I first learned about the song, and for a long time I thought it was original to them. So I thought I’d share the real original. They’re both delightful, and my own preference shifts with my mood.

            • Why does Daffy Duck being inserted into something need explanation. It’s Daffy Duck, case closed.

              It almost reminds me of the Beavis and Butthead skit where they are shocked Lemmy is showing up in another rock band’s video.

              Beavis: Whoa, that’s Lemmy, what’s he doing here!
              Butthead: He’s Lemmy, he can show up in any video he damn well pleases.
              Beavis:……. oh yeah, heh heh.

      • That’s nobody’s business but the Turks’.

  • Mark R

    Istanbul is not an elision from Constantinople. I think it means something like “that place over there” in Turkish.
    I would not overplay hopes for full unity between East and West. To the East, the Roman Catholic Church is literally and figuratively all over them map with different interpretations of theology, spirituality, and the sad reality that even many many Roman Catholic priests do not even know what their own Church teaches. This is not to enviting to them. One has to understand that the East has a very very different mindset from what would generally be called the mindset of the West. That would be another hurdle to get past…and that does not at all depend on hierarchs and such. Orthodoxy is a harder religion to practice, therefore its generational retention is probably the smallest of all Christian confessions. That said, for their own sake, they need to be more on the same page with issues that would appear petty to westerners and the fact that in about 25 years after the fall of Communism this is finally being discussed must surely be the work of the Holy Spirit since it has been so long since the last Council.

    • BillyT92679

      eh I don’t know… I also see Eastern Orthodoxy as really susceptible to just falling apart… so many folks from the former Soviet block so atheism is still commonplace, really near Islam (and, specifically, traditionally EUROPEAN Islam, both in western Turkey and places like Bosnia and Russia and Albania) which is a constant threat, and not much presence outside of the traditional areas, and a fertile area to get plucked by Protestants (without the traditional defense vs Protestantism that Catholicism has developed)

      Orthodoxy, frankly, could use Catholicism more than Catholicism could use Orthodoxy.

      • MarylandBill

        I think you are being unfair to Orthodoxy. It has a history of enduring under tremendous pressure. Greek Orthodox Christians remained true to their faith through several hundred years of Ottoman occupation. Likewise, many Russian Orthodox maintained the faith under the intense persecution of the Soviets. Sure, it might end up a smaller church (just like the Catholic Church might), but I don’t see them disappearing anytime soon.

        I also think they might be more resistant to Protestantism than you think. Their approach to theology is far more mystical and less analytic than the Catholic approach which I think makes their followers less likely to be swayed by Protestant arguments. Just my impression, but I have never heard of an Orthodox country with anything other than a tiny Protestant population.

        • BillyT92679

          Sure, there are plenty of examples of devout Orthodox who stuck through. That does not mean there cannot be a significant disruption here either. They aren’t mutually exclusive concepts here.

        • BillyT92679

          Falling apart does not in any way equal disappearing.

        • BillyT92679

          They were resistant to Protestantism for a variety of geopolitical reasons in the same way that they were not resistant to Islam. As mystical as their theology is, theosis does not preclude a swaying to evangelicalism at all.

          The same issues that plague the west plague the east.

      • etme

        Atheism? Absolutely not more commonplace than in the UK, the mother or parliamentary democracy and the state-church.

        • BillyT92679

          well atheism is everywhere, but, it’s hard to argue the impact of actual state enforced atheism

      • Eerie de Veré

        Orthodoxy and Catholicism need each other. This is not like other ecclesial communions and movements that broke away from the Catholic Church. Between Rome and Constantinople, communion broke down over a period of four centuries. Both sides have been poorer as a result. Additionally, there are our brothers and sisters in the Middle East – many, particularly of the Antiochian tradition, do not recognize the schism between Catholicism and Orthodoxy.

        • BillyT92679

          Yes they do, but I think the East needs the West more.

          • Eerie de Veré

            We need each other. Byzantium needs Rome’s organization and unity. The benefit of the Petrine ministry. In contrast, the West needs the East’s liturgical sense as well as sense of Tradition.

            • Also, somehow the East manages to be more strict and yet (so it seems to me anyway) less legalistic. It’s another completely legitimate way of keeping the Faith that we Westerners would do well to remind ourselves of.

            • BillyT92679

              Yes we do. I still think they need us more

    • BillyT92679

      I do agree that there is some real inside baseball stuff with Orthodoxy. The potential internecine battle between the EP and the MP needs to get rectified.

      • Eerie de Veré

        The best explanation I have ever seen of the politics between Catholicism and Orthodoxy is the following: A set of scales with Rome on one side, and a second set of scales on the other balancing Constantinople and Moscow.

    • Hematite

      Don’t the Orthodox also allow divorce and artificial contraception? Then there’s the long tradition of bowing to whatever Cesar happens to be near by. They have suffered much by not staying on the Barque of Peter.

    • Eerie de Veré

      Istanbul, from what I recall from my class on Byzantine iconography, means “the City”. It was a nickname for Constantinople way back when kinda like “Big Apple” for New York.

  • kirthigdon

    Great news! I hope they invite Pope Francis; I know he’d like to attend.
    Kirt Higdon

  • MitchellJ

    Francis ought to suggest a seat at the table for the Catholics when he meets with Patriarch Bartholomew in Jerusalem soon. If a council can work out theological and juridical issues and then a council seems like a great place for a surprise reunion. And it being on Orthodox territory without civil pressures like the ill-fated Council of Florence, would give it a fighting chance. Catholics being the bigger group are going to have to give more in any reunion, I think Frances knows that; many Catholics do not.

  • Mark R

    The issues facing the Orthodox would be quite different than what Roman Catholics would imagine any putative “reunion” would solve. Some of the chief questions are the Calendar question (many jurisdictions regard the adoption of a quasi- Western calendar by some as noncanonical), then there is the issue of mulitple jurisdictions in the same country, then there are different approaches to receiving communion –some must confess at a long vesper service the night before the long Sunday liturgy, some continue to emphasize the sinfulness of contraception –but if you fasted as much as the devout, being oversexed may not be an issue. Divorce was permitted before the schism, but it is not like how Protestants approach it but through a church court.They are losing to evangelicals as well as to secularism in historical Orthodox lands, in a sense that means they are losing the people. It is a durable faith, but we live in a world that in many ways militates against the Orthodox approach. The liturgy will seem boring and pointless to those used to fast-paced entertainment and sound bites.

    • Eerie de Veré

      Mark – This is where I agree with (then) Cardinal Ratzinger, speaking strictly in his capacity as a private theologian, that Catholicism and Orthodoxy should simply re-admit each other to full communion and resolve our differences in theological expression afterward. Both our expressions are based solidly in the teachings of the first seven ecumenical councils, and thus we are not that far apart to begin with.
      I understand that once elected Pope Benedict he had to be a bit more prudent, however, in moving us closer to full reconciliation. However, I think he has moved us into range where Pope Francis and both the Ecumenical Patriarch and President Putin (whose opinion will likely determine the buy in of the Moscow Patriarchate) can bring this type of reconciliation into the foreseeable future.

    • Man, I so, so wish they’d adopt the Gregorian calendar. A couple of years ago the Easters coincided and I went to their Easter vigil with some Orthodox friends of mine and feasted with them after midnight, and then they came to mass that Easter morning with me and it was really, really nice. Our priest said “Christos anesti!” during the homily at mass and my Orthodox friends yelled back “Alithos anesti!” So much ecumenical cuteness.

  • Noah Doyle

    I pray for unity, with gratitude that I’m not the one that has to figure out the details.