Members of Orthodox Christian unions along with clerics and monks yesterday disrupted a Paphos conference between Orthodox and Catholic Christians. The unions, monks from Stavrovouni monastery and Larnaca clerics were protesting against the conference and demanding that Archbichop Chrysostomos II cancel it.
It was day one of the conference of the Joint Commission for the Theological Dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church. The protesters claimed the dialogue between the two churches aimed in the submission of the Orthodox Church to the Pope.
AsiaNews, picking up on an interview Metropolitan John of Pergamon held with a Cypriot journalist, said the metropolitan wanted to send a message to “certain areas” of the Orthodox Church that are suffering from “a traditionalist narcissism bordering on infallibility.”
… Zizoulas immediately clarifies that “the decision to participate in dialogue with the Catholic Church was ‘unanimously’ made by all Orthodox churches. Therefore inveighing against dialogue, the Ecumenical Patriarchate and my person is unfair. All Orthodox churches were in agreement on the importance of dialogue and the fact that it must continue”.
“The Ecumenical Patriarchate – he continues – as in all other Orthodox matters, has only a coordinating role and we, like the other members of the Commission, are the engaged executors, according to our own conscience, of the mandate that was assigned to us. We are open to criticism because we are not infallible, just as our critics are not infallible. Those who do not want dialogue, are opposed to the common will of all Orthodox Churches. ”
Regarding the positions of the monks of Mount Athos – staunchly opposed to dialogue – the Metropolitan of Pergamon is explicit: “I respect their opinion and their feelings on matters of faith. But why should they have the monopoly of truth on matters of faith? Are the other leaders of the churches perhaps lacking this sensitivity? All the faithful of the Church have the right to express their thoughts. But all opinions should be subject to scrutiny of the synods. If the great Father of the Church St. Basil put his opinion to the judgement of synods, we can do no less!”.
In April, the “Convention of Orthodox Clergymen and Monks” in Greece published a “Confession of Faith Against Ecumenism” which characterized the papacy as “the womb of heresies and fallacies.”
Church of Greece hierarchs have weighed in. Here are their first two points (emphasis theirs):
1. The need for a more detailed updating of the Holy Synod of the Hierarchy on these very significant issues was made evident. It was also declared that from now on, the Hierarchy is to be informed of all the phases of the Dialogues, otherwise no “document” will be considered binding to the Church. After all, this is defined in the Synodic Polity of the Church.
2. The Dialogue must continue, but within the Orthodox ecclesiological and canonical framework, and always following an understanding with the Ecumenical Patriarchate, as has been pan-Orthodoxically decided.
The focus of this particular International Joint Commission for Orthodox-Catholic Theological Dialogue is the “the role of Bishop of Rome in the communion of the Church in the 1st millennium.” The Russian Church delegation is headed by Archbishop Hilarion of Volokolamsk. Interfax reports that the commission “held its previous session in October 2007 in Ravenna. Then, the Moscow Patriarchate delegation left the session as its members didn’t agree to participation of the so-called ‘Estonian Apostolic Church’ established by the Constantinople Patriarchate on the Russian Church canonical territory in 1996. In the absence of the Russian Church representatives, the participants adopted a final document defining their joint view on the nature of rule in the Ecumenical Church.”
Later, commenting on the adopted document Walter Kasper, the president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, spoke about “real breakthrough” in the dialogue between Orthodox and Catholics. However, the Russian Church didn’t share his optimism and reproached the Holy See for its attempts to impose Catholic model of administration with the Pope ruling on Orthodox world.
The Moscow Patriarchate has an update today