April 24, 2014

“The Pope Is the First Among the Patriarchs.” Just How Remains to Be Seen

chiesa-express-online

ROME, January 25, 2010 – This evening, with vespers in the basilica of Saint Paul's Outside the Walls, Benedict XVI is closing the week of prayer for Christian unity. There are some who say that ecumenism has entered a phase of retreat and chill. But as soon as one that looks to the East, the facts say the opposite. Relations with the Orthodox Churches have never been so promising as they have since Joseph Ratzinger has been pope. The dates speak for themselves. A period of chill in the theological dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches of Byzantine tradition began in 1990, when the two sides clashed over so-called "uniatism," meaning the ways in which Catholic communities of the Eastern rites duplicate in everything the parallel Orthodox communities, differing only by their obedience to the Church of Rome. In Balamond, in Lebanon, the dialogue came to a halt. It hit an even bigger obstacle on the Russian side, where the patriarchate of Moscow … [Read more...]

Fr. Alexander Schmemann on Primacy in the Orthodox Church

Many of the current jurisdictional controversies within the Orthodox Church involving the Ecumenical Patriarch, relations between Constantinople and Moscow, the status of the "autocephalies" -- even the future of the American Orthodox Church -- hinge on the question of primacy. While Orthodox Christians have rejected the Roman model of primacy as "supreme power" over the Bishop and local Church, the question of primacy within the Orthodox Church is a complete muddle. In "The Idea of Primacy in Orthodox Ecclesiology," an essay written in 1960 and now available on the AOI main site, Fr. Alexander Schmemann examines various aspects of the primacy question, an issue he describes as "on the agenda for our time." As he reminds us, the ecclesiological interpretation of primacy -- regional, autocephalous, and "universal" -- is "virtually absent" from from Orthodox theology. "We badly need a clarification of the nature and functions of all these primacies and, first of all, of the very concept … [Read more...]