The Pope requests prayers for the dialogue with the Orthodox

Source: FSSPX News

On September 22 during the weekly general audience, Benedict XVI exhorted the faithful to “pray intensely” for the work of the 12th meeting of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue Between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches. Meeting in a plenary session from September 20 to 27 in Vienna (Austria), Catholics and Orthodox pored over the controversial question of the “role of the bishop of Rome”, referring in particular to the first millennium of the Catholic Church, that is, before the schism of 1054. And so the pope asked the faithful to “pray intensely” for the work of the assembly, and likewise for “a continuous development and the consolidation of peace,” which would allow the Church to “give the world an evangelical testimony of ever greater authenticity.” Considering the “great challenges confronting Christianity today,” the pope called on the faithful “to work seriously for the reestablishment of full communion between the Churches.”

In October 2007, in Ravenna (Italy), the two confessions had begun to agree on the delicate question of papal primacy. The delegation of the Patriarch of Moscow had nonetheless left the negotiating table on the second day of the meeting, essentially because of internal problems of the Orthodox Churches. The discussions resumed, but the premature publication in the Italian press of a joint text after the meeting in Paphos (Cyprus) in October 2009 showed the limits of this dialogue.

Bishop Kurt Koch, new president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, took part in the meeting for the first time, as co-president of the commission. At the previous meeting in Paphos his predecessor, Cardinal Walter Kasper, had confided that the two parties had “taken small steps forward in the right direction.”

Commentary: It is helpful to recall here the points of opposition between Catholicism and Orthodoxy, and the reader will see that they are far from being minor, as the French philosopher Louis Jugnet emphasized in Orthodoxie gréco-russe et théologie occidentale [Greco-Russian Orthodoxy and Western theology] (1946): the Filioque and Immaculate Conception, the ambiguities concerning transubstantiation, silence about purgatory, indulgences, and the number of sacraments, the “apophatism” (from apophasis: negation) that ignores the knowledge that we can acquire about divine realities…, not to mention the fierce opposition to Rome, in particular with regard to the universal jurisdiction of the successor of Peter and to the dogma of papal infallibility. For this reason he advised Catholics: “Let us hold fast in defending ourselves against thinking that exaggeratedly belittles our knowledge of God, that pushes back dogmatic progress, that errs very significantly on important points of doctrine, and manifests much bad will toward Rome.”  (Sources : apic/ imedia/VIS - DICI no.223 dated October 16, 2010)