July 23, 2014

Orthodox and Catholics Face the Same Challenges

Making common cause against secularism and other maladies of the modern era with the Catholic Church is a wise course. The Russian Orthodox Church approves (see my articles on Catholic Online). But how will Constantinople respond?

Below is a press release where Pope Benedict sounds the same theme in a message to Pat. Bartholomew of Constantinople. It will be interesting to see what Constantinople’s response will be, if any. Apart from environmental care, they have not addressed secularism, the demographic implosion of the West (including abortion), ethical issues, and other critical problem facing Western culture in any substantive or comprehensive ways in years. Care for the environment is close to Pat. Bartholomew’s heart but even there most of the thinking remains trapped in the polemics of Progressive ideology (global warming, supporting international cap and trade legislation, embracing secular apocalyptic scenarios, and so forth), while the Vatican frames environmental care in the context of the dignity of the human person (a very Orthodox approach, ironically).

It’s a shame that Constantinople is silent on the more pressing issues. With the resources and talent available to them in America (they could borrow the expertise of educated American Orthodox from any jurisdiction), their voice could be clearer than it is. Perhaps they could contribute in ways that complement the Russian offerings and even some of the American work.

Source: Vatican Information Service

VATICAN CITY, 30 NOV 2011 (VIS) – Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, is leading a delegation sent by the Holy See to Istanbul to participate in celebrations marking the Feast of St. Andrew, patron of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. The Holy See and the Patriarchate exchange regular annual visits for the feast days of their respective patrons.

The Holy See delegation to this year’s celebration – which coincides with the twentieth anniversary of the election of His Holiness Bartholomew I as Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople – is made up of Cardinal Koch; Bishop Brian Farrell, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity; Fr. Andrea Palmieri, an official of the same dicastery, and Archbishop Antonio Lucibello, apostolic nuncio to Turkey. The group attended a divine liturgy celebrated by Bartholomew I in the patriarchal church of Fanar, then met with the Patriarch and the synodal commission which oversees relations with the Catholic Church.

Cardinal Koch gave Bartholomew I a gift and a message from the Holy Father. In the message, which was read out at the end of the divine liturgy, Benedict XVI recalls his most recent meeting with the Patriarch during last month’s Day of Prayer for Peace in the Italian town of Assisi. “I give thanks to the Lord for having allowed me to strengthen the bonds of sincere friendship and true brotherhood which unite us, and to bear witness before the entire world to the broad vision we share”.

The message continues: “The present cultural, social, economic, political and religious circumstances place exactly the same challenges before Catholics and Orthodox. Announcing the mystery of salvation through the death and resurrection of Christ needs to undergo deep renewal in many regions which once accepted the light but are now suffering the effects of secularisation which impoverishes man in his deepest dimension. Faced with this emergency we must show all mankind that we have achieved a maturity in the faith, that we are capable of coming together despite human tensions, thanks to our joint search for truth and with the awareness that the future of evangelisation depends upon the witness of unity and the level of charity the Church can show”.

Ⲧhe Pope concludes by asking the Lord that, through the intercession of Sts. Andrew, Peter and Paul, both Church may receive “the gift of unity which comes from on high”.

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