Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Pray for Christians in the Middle East

Please pray for the Christians and innocent families throughout the Middle East who are fleeing or being martyred in their streets. 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Francis and Bartholomew in Jerusalem May 25, 2014

Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch in Jerusalem May 25, 2014 (Photograph courtesy of Nicholas Manginas)

Excerpts from the Common Declaration of Pope Francis and 

2. …While fully aware of not having reached the goal of full communion, today we confirm our commitment to continue walking together towards the unity for which Christ our Lord prayed to the Father so “that all may be one” (Jn 17:21).

3. Well aware that unity is manifested in love of God and love of neighbour, we look forward in eager anticipation to the day in which we will finally partake together in the Eucharistic banquet. As Christians, we are called to prepare to receive this gift of Eucharistic communion, according to the teaching of Saint Irenaeus of Lyon (Against Heresies, IV,18,5, PG 7,1028), through the confession of the one faith, persevering prayer, inner conversion, renewal of life and fraternal dialogue. By achieving this hoped for goal, we will manifest to the world the love of God by which we are recognized as true disciples of Jesus Christ (cf. Jn 13:35)…

8. From this holy city of Jerusalem, we express our shared profound concern for the situation of Christians in the Middle East and for their right to remain full citizens of their homelands. In trust we turn to the almighty and merciful God in a prayer for peace in the Holy Land and in the Middle East in general. We especially pray for the Churches in Egypt, Syria, and Iraq, which have suffered most grievously due to recent events. We encourage all parties regardless of their religious convictions to continue to work for reconciliation and for the just recognition of peoples’ rights…
9. In an historical context marked by violence, indifference and egoism, many men and women today feel that they have lost their bearings. It is precisely through our common witness to the good news of the Gospel that we may be able to help the people of our time to rediscover the way that leads to truth, justice and peace…

Saturday, May 24, 2014

On the Eve of Francis and Bartholomew’s Embrace

Seven cataphatic, or positive, points about the meeting between the Pope and the Patriarch

by Christopher B. Warner 

(Catholic World Report) Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew will meet in Bethlehem, Sunday evening, and then pray together in an ecumenical prayer service at the Holy Sepulcher. The events of the weekend can be followed through the official website, Pope Francis in the Holy Land 2014. Let us pray together with Francis, Bartholomew, and the many Christian leaders meeting with them in the Holy Land for authentic unity in Christ.

I hope you had a chance to read Dr. Adam A.J. DeVille’s analysis of current ecumenism. The following seven cataphatic (positive) points are offered here as a compliment to his article. They summarize some of my own thoughts on this momentous occasion:

Pope Paul VI and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras, 1964
1. The Embrace: Let us not underestimate the sign of fraternal charity between Francis and Bartholomew on this very significant historical occasion. Fifty years ago, Pope Paul VI and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras likewise embraced in Jerusalem, lifted the century old anathemas, and began modern Orthodox-Catholic dialogue as we now know it.

2. Progress in Dialogue: A lot of ground has been covered in the Orthodox-Catholic dialogue. The titles of joint documents produced by the North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation demonstrates how many dividing issues have been wrestled with and how much work has been done. The embrace of Paul VI and Athanagoras was far more than just a nice gesture in a geo-political game. Let us pray that the next fifty years will mark significantly more cooperation and integration between Orthodox and Catholic Christians.

As Dr. DeVille suggests, Eucharistic inter-communion between Orthodox and Catholic churches someday may again be possible and should be ardently prayed for. But Eucharistic communion presupposes theological and canonical harmony. We are getting closer to that goal, but we are still a long way away.

3Uniatism is a Blessing, not Curse: The biggest obstacle to Orthodox-Catholic dialogue is said to be Uniatism, and that is true, but not for theological reasons. Uniatism in Slavic countries is a political problem. Anti-Uniatism is an excuse for bigotry and persecution of Eastern Catholics. The Russian occupation of Crimea is just another chapter in a five-hundred-year-long struggle between Ukrainians and Russians.

Those of us who are Uniates find Uniatism to be a great blessing, not a curse. We get the best of both worlds: the marvelous Greek liturgical tradition and autonomous freedom with all the stability of the Catholic Magisterium and canonical order. There is tremendous respect and love for Catholicism and Orthodoxy among Uniates.

According to Orthodox-Catholic ecumenical theory, union between Orthodoxy and Catholicism will never be an event when all Orthodox believers become Catholic, or vice versa. Recall Archimandrite Robert Taft’s comments on this.

In practice, however, Uniatism could be the only actual unity we ever see. Read more>>