Benedict and Bartholomew

There has been some exciting progress forward in the quest for unity between the Catholic and Orthodoxy Churches. The Shriners at Holy Whapping have the story.

What interests me about this is the shriners paragraph on authority. The major excitement about this story is that the Eastern Orthodox have agreed that in the early church there was a sense of universal unity within the church, and that the Bishop of Rome had, at least, some sort of primacy. Of course details need to be worked out, but this recognition means that there is an agreed foundation upon which to discuss what the primacy meant in the first century and what it ought to mean, and how it ought to be lived out in the twenty-first century.

All ecumenical agreements impact the whole of Christendom, and all independent and schismatic actions affect the whole body of Christ. This agreement should affect Protestant Christians too who are interested in the affairs of the whole Body of Christ. Those who believe the true church is merely ‘invisible’ may have reason to re-consider if the two most ancient branches of the Church believe the early church to have considered itself to have a visible manifestation, and those who dispute both apostolic succession and any idea of the primacy of the Bishop of Rome may need to look at the matter again as both the EO and the Catholics have agreed on this basic understanding.

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  • Andrew

    I’m including the comment I made at Whapping highlighting the opinions expressed by Metropolitan Ioannis Zizioulas of Pergamum here.Metropolitan Ioannis Zizioulas of Pergamum is the Orthodox Co-Chair and an eminent Orthodox theologian. He gave an interview with 30 Days which I think you might find fascinating.The article can be found here.His views are a departure from the typical Orthodox polemic about the whole issue of a mere primacy of honour. The good Metropolitan maintains that there is not such thing, in practice, in Orthodoxy today and the primacy exercised is much more than simply one of honour but one of jurisdiction as well.However, the really interesting part about his view, which, IMHO, is a way for the dialogue to progress forward is about the relationship between primacy and synodality. The Metropolitan’s views here is the closest Orthodox position I’ve seen so far to the Catholic concept of a universal primacy that belongs to the esse of the Church and is not merely an administrative function.Given his prominence, I guess his views should be considered with the greatest care.”… the simple and obvious fact that synodality cannot exist without primacy. In Orthodox tradition there has never been and there can never be a synod or a council without a protos, or primus. If, therefore, synodality exists jure divino, primacy also must exist by the same right…. synods without primates have never existed in the Orthodox Church, and this indicates clearly that if synodality is a dogmatic necessity, so must primacy be also. This is precisely what the well-known 34th Canon of the Apostles explicitly states…This canon of the IV century can be the golden rule of the theology of primacy. It requires that the protos is a conditio sine qua non for the synodal institution, and that the synod is in its turn equally a prerequisite for the exercise of primacy.The fact that all synods have a primate means that ecumenical synods should also have a primus. This automatically implies universal primacy. On this basis, Orthodox theology could be ready to accept primacy at all levels of Church structure, including the universal one. The problem that remains for discussion in the context of theological dialogue between Roman Catholic and Orthodox is what kind of primacy we have in mind.For the future development of dialogue on this issue, it is of crucial importance that the Orthodox accept that primacy is part of the essence of the Church and not a matter of organization. They must also accept that there must be a Primacy on a universal level. This is difficult at the moment, but it would become easier if we thought more deeply about the nature of the Church. The Church cannot be local without being universal and cannot be universal if is not local.Catholics must take seriously the notion of full catholicity of the local Church promoted at Vatican Council II, and must apply it to their ecclesiology. This means that every form of primacy at the universal level must reflect the local Church and must not intervene in the local Church without her consent. Every local Church, must have the possibility to affirm its own catholicity, in relation to the primacy. For this reason, I repeat, the golden rule for a correct exercise of primacy is the 34th Apostolic Canon.

  • Mary Margaret

    This is a very promising beginning! Deo Gratias! I may be mistaken, (and please correct me if so) but I think that the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew is the successor to St Andrew. Would it not be beautiful to see Peter and Andrew unified once again? As Bartholomew and Benedict seem to have such a close, warm relationship, I am hopeful that Rome and Constantinople can find the way to reunification soon. Andrew, the opinions of Metropolitan Ioannis Zizioulas of Pergamum are very interesting and hopeful. How beautifully he speaks.God grant that we may be One!

  • mum6kids

    I love the photo and I really hope and pray that this is the beginning to something great.