Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Moving towards a united Christianity

From The Guardian-

In the past two months, relations between the three main Christian churches have moved in more promising directions than perhaps during the past 50 years of uninspiring liberal dialogue. By opening a new chapter of theological engagement and concrete co-operation with Orthodoxy and Anglicanism, Pope Benedict XVI is changing the terms of debate about church reunification. In time, we might witness the end of the Great Schism between east and west and a union of the main episcopally-based churches.

First there was the Rome visit in September by the Russian Orthodox Archbishop Hilarion of Volokolamsk, Moscow's man for ecumenical relations. In high-level meetings, both sides argued that their shared resistance to secularism and moral relativism calls forth a further rapprochement of Orthodoxy and Catholicism. Declaring that "More than ever, we Christians must stand together", Hilarion insisted that each side can appeal to shared traditions and work towards greater closeness in a spirit of "mutual respect and love".

That this was more than diplomatic protocol was confirmed by the Catholic Archbishop of Moscow, Monsignor Paolo Pezzi. In an interview with the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, he said that union between Catholics and Orthodox "is possible, indeed it has never been so close". The formal end of the Great Schism of 1054, which has divided the two churches for a millennium, and the move towards full spiritual communion "could happen soon".

Even on doctrinal matters, Roman Catholicism and Russian Orthodoxy are essentially in agreement. Hilarion acknowledged that the two have different ecclesiological models, with the former favouring a more centralised structure led by the pontiff while the latter emphasises the autonomy of provinces and local churches. "There remains the question of papal primacy and this will be a concern at the next meeting of the Catholic-Orthodox commission. But to me, it doesn't seem impossible to reach an agreement", said Pezzi.

More here-

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