Catholics and Orthodox report promising progress in latest round of unity talks

I was going to post the release below a few days ago but decided against because, well, it had that ring of Constantinopolitan triumphalism to it. I’m jaded by Constantinople’s global warming initiative where the full moral force of the Constantinopolitan Patriarchate (as well as the complete administrative resources of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese) was pressed into service on behalf of the global environmentalist lobby.

Even a rudimentary search at the time when global warming was heralded as “settled science” would have given the independent observer pause; too many questions about the veracity of global warming “science” were raised by qualified scientists, unqualified political celebrities (Al Gore and others) were elevated to champion what ostensibly was a project of the scientific academy, too many adherents viewed environmentalism in quasi-religious terms (employing a twisting of the traditional moral vocabulary to justify their beliefs), and so forth. That the Ecumenical Patriarch, his advisers, and the Washington lobbying firm orchestrating much of the Patriarchal response did not heed these indicators shows something was, and probably still is, seriously wrong. Further, that the EP urged the passage of the Copenhagen Protocols, an endorsement totally inappropriate for a man of his position, compounded the error. (At the time I tried to warn them of the danger.)

Clearly the plan was to ride the crest of a wave that seemed certain to break near shore in short order. That didn’t happen. Instead the emails from East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit were leaked (a free press can be a very good thing) and the house came tumbling down. We haven’t heard a word about global warming from either Constantinople or the GOA Press office since and appropriately so. (Actually, not quite true. A sentence crept into a recent encyclical but it was buried so deep you needed a magnifying glass to find it – a message to true believers?)

So when Constantinople announced that union between Rome and Orthodoxy was much further along than it actually is, I concluded that it probably was more grandstanding, that is, positioning Constantinople into an appearance of prominence that it does not in fact possess. So I ignored it. Looking back, especially after the clarification by Metropolitan Hilarion of the Russian Orthodox Church that was released this morning, I see that was a mistake. These pronouncements are important — even when what is reported is a misrepresentation — and so it is important to post them along with my misgivings.

One more point, the fact that Reuters reported it also gave me pause. Reuters makes only a pretense of reportorial objectivity in matters of morals and religion, a problem that is compounded when religion is the sole focus of an article since they understand it so poorly. Still, it does not mean that the facts, even if skewed, should be ignored.

What follows below is the original report that I ignored. Immediately above this post is the clarification by Met. Hilarion.

Source: Reuters

cathorth 1Roman Catholic and Orthodox theologians reported promising progress on Friday in talks on overcoming their Great Schism of 1054 and bringing the two largest denominations in Christianity back to full communion. Experts meeting in Vienna this week agreed the two could eventually become “sister churches” that recognize the Roman pope as their titular head but retain many church structures, liturgy and customs that developed over the past millennium.

(Photo: Metropolitan John Zizioulas (L) and Cardinal Christoph Schönborn in Vienna, 24 Sept 2010/Leonhard Foeger)

The delegation heads for the international commission for Catholic-Orthodox dialogue stressed that unity was still far off, but their upbeat report reflected growing cooperation between Rome and the Orthodox churches traditionally centred in Russia, Greece, Eastern Europe and the Middle East.

Read the entire article on the Reuters website.


  1. Really …. “customs that developed over the past millennium”? Let us see how the thinking of the infallibles “developed” over the past millennium. In the beginning they ordered bloody crusades aimed against Muslims, Jews, and “schismatic” Orthodox Christians. Today they are telling us that we all worship the same God. They promote the “same God cult”, or the religion of peace. Peace between the sons of darkness and the sons of light, peace between truth and lies. The Scripture offers two, —and only two—choices. One can serve God-Father, Son and Holy Spirit or Mammon. Christ said that He is the Son of God, not just a prophet.

    Out there some people are desperately trying to have the Orthodox Church submit to “one titular head”. No, thanks. “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”.
    Once one would became the titular head, he would start making changes, creating schisms, pain and anxiety. The Ecumenical Patriarchate already did that, and is still doing it.

    • Geo Michalopulos :

      Eliot, the Crusades were called by the Byzantines, let’s not forget that. And they were justified. Depredations against Jews did happen, but mostly by the rabble. In the Rhineland, Jews were placed under the protection of the local bishops and many thousands were saved from the riff-raff. As for the supposed atrocities against the Muslims, they were par for the course in Medieval warfare. The Ridley Scott view of Outremer in his terrible movie The Kingdom of Heaven was laughable. The Muslims gave as good as they got and they were anything but tolerant to the Christians, native or otherwise.

      Otherwise, your critique about ultramontanism, papalism, etc., is right on the money. Unfortunately, many in the Ecumenical Patriarchate are veering dangerously down this same path. I wonder, what causes such supremacist over-reach?

      • George:

        Following abortive popular crusades in early 1096, the official crusader armies set off from France and Italy on the papally ordained date of 15 August 1096. (from Wikipedia).

        Also, crusaders were often offered an indulgence in return for participation in a crusade.

        You say that the crusades were justified. I wonder if the rise and growth of the Ottoman Empire was a natural reaction to crusades. Later, the Orthodox nations served as a shield for Western Europe against ottomans.

  2. If we are to follow the one true Holy Orthodox Catholic Faith and do so with seriousness, then we have to be realistic about the fact that there will never be a union between the supposed “two lungs of one body.” From the cult of mary and her alleged apparitions to purgatory, the immaculate conception, and altar girls, the continuing “developments” within the Roman Catholic Church it seems will never stop. The Lord is the same yesterday, today, and forever, as is His holy word (Scripture) and His bride (the Orthodox Church). There is plenty of evidence (and I could list many books) to suggest that the Orthodox Church is the one undivided pure faith from the very beginning that hasn’t changed over two millennia. Let’s face the fact that Roman Catholicism and Protestantism are opposite sides of the same coin, and let’s stop playing games. Either the Orthodox Church is or it isn’t. There are an inordinate amount of theology schools, Bible colleges, theologians, religion professors, and denominations to confuse those who are sincerely seeking the Lord’s will for them. I can’t help but ponder C.S. Lewis’s very astute “Screwtape Letters.” I wish the Lord Himself would throw us a bone on occasion and cease this utter “Christian Denominational Madness!” That is my only Christmas Wish.

    • Alexis: Indeed, they work very hard to confuse the youth especially…
      Christ Has Risen within Your Heart! – by Father George Calciu

      Perhaps yesterday, when Communism tried to wrench any faith from your heart and to form you into a mere cog in the gears of the social machinery, you, out of a spirit of youthful revolt had more Christ in your soul than you have today.

      Today you are attacked from all sides with the sound of the rhythmic drumming of all the anti-Christian organizations, which wish to create an amorphous mass out of the world’s nations, easily led to their intended destination. So it happens in the political world – a few individuals are anointed in secret and installed to govern all people from positions of international power. They determine which nations have the right to bear children and which must abort them; they substitute themselves to God and sketch the destiny of nations according to their pleasures and interests. Whoever does not submit shall perish!

      This totalitarianism is expressed, more and more, even in the life of the Church, through Masonic-style ecumenical international organizations, which actually impose a new religion, a new liturgy divested of sacredness, the Holy Mysteries, and ritual, like a modern theatrical production.

      These so-called religious theaters – which you see gathered in all the public marketplaces, led by some of the Western youth – represent the desanctification of Christianity and the Liturgy. Unfortunately even some Orthodox clergy have taken part in the de-sacramentalization of the Liturgy, as in the case of the brochure Reconciliation – the Gift from God and the Beginning of New Life, edited in Iasi, in 1995, where among the editors is found an Orthodox priest (of course, not without the approval of his hierarch). This work, in its liturgical part, is an attack on the sanctity of Orthodox Liturgy and a negation of its Mysteries.

      How can you not stand, like Mary, in front of an empty tomb? All these attacks are pointed against you, young men, especially against you, because you are more deprived of protection and you are more sensitive to injustices. Your attackers want to tell you that you are an empty tomb if you no not submit to them.

      However, it is written: Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are from God; because many false prophets are gone out into the world (I John 4:1).

      Who can test today if the spirits come from God when the Orthodox and catholic priests themselves preach an anti-Christian Messianic message, similar to the sects established by rebels against the Church? Who protects you from straying, my younger brother? Who is to enrobe your heart with the presence of true Christ and not with the false christs of this age.

  3. Over at I’ve mused about the “Great and Holy Council” doing something useful about the diptychs and the “diaspora”: formally remove Rome from the diptychs (or set up an Orthodox pope in Rome), condemn Ultramontanism, and set up Orthodox Holy Synods in the EA regions in the Patriarchate of the West.

    • Hi Isa

      Re: I’ve mused about the “Great and Holy Council” doing something useful about the diptychs

      When I read the comment above, I thought to myself, “Like demoting some of these “patriarchates” and returning them to bishoprics?”

      I wonder, do you think did Byzantium had more Christians in 324 AD than it does now? It was a simple bishopric then…

      Just “musing”….

      Best Regards,

      • Hi Dean!

        Possible. It had a population of 30,000 when Constantine chose it, and I doubt more than a third had already received baptism. I’m not much for demoting sees. I am for them doing their jobs, i.e. evangelizing.

        • A population of 30,000 — where the average age at death was 21 for women, 24 for men. So, you know, nothing’s changed and neither should we.

  4. Is there a way to put Rome on “time out” instead of removing them from the diptychs entirely, ESPECIALLY instead of setting up a “parallel” OC Pope in Rome?

    • No, and there is no reason to put Rome on hold. There is a Romanian bishop of Rome (+Siluan) and a Greek Metropolitan of Italy (+Gennadios). That their jurisdiction overlap (the EP is the one who has canonical jurisdiction here, btw) is the problem, not that B XVI isn’t at their head.

  5. cynthia curran :

    Good George, the Catholic Church I think about the last decade has even condemmed some of the misbehavor of the crusades and the fourth crusade that sack Constantinople, on the other hand no Orthodox group mentions the accidental damage of the Byzantine-Goth wars in Italy in the 6th Century that did great damage to Italy and tax collectors and soldiers were not always good to the Italian population. Granted, the Goths behavior in the war was not always good either. This was Justinian’s dream of reviving the old Roman Empire and it failed since Constantinople was able to hold on to most of Italy and there was great damage like the destrucation of 14 aqueducts in the city of Rome. One reason why medieval Rome had a much smaller population than anicent Rome since it couldn’t support the population since water couldn’t be transported as much.

  6. cynthia curran :

    correction: was not able to hold on to most of Italy talking about the byzantine-Goth conflict.. The reason why Constantinople fell victim to the crusaders first and then the ottomaas later was that their military force by 1204 was much weaker. They had a great military force when they got a lot of peasant farmers to sign up for military service in order to receive farm land after military service this was similar to the old Roman concept of land for veterans that Julius Caesar’s uncle Caius Marius adopted in the 2nd century B.C., As for the Turks, I doubt the crusades were the only factor for their hosility toward Byzantium and then Western Europe, Muslems invaded the Byzantine Empire and the late Persian Empire as far back as the 7th century. Granted the Turks were not a main Islamic group in the 7th century. And of course the Muslems took parts of Italy from the Byzantines and North Africa by the early 8th century and Spain from the Visgoths I believe in the 7th century and in the 8th moved up to France and of course were defeated by Charles Martel. Theophanes describes in chronacle how they were defeated by the Franks but he thoought it was Pipin.

  7. alexis banias :

    The 1204 A.D. debacle was sad, but watching EWTN makes me sadder. Voodoo theology begone! Thank you for Father Calciu’s article, Eliot.

  8. We live fearful times …
    The Communist atheists wanted to save man from the ‘delusion’ of religion using unthinkable cruelty.

    I have confessed Christ my whole life, and in 1944 I dedicated myself completely to Him. I was always confronted with material­ism—be it bourgeois or be it Communist. I measured the Christian Faith against Islam, Buddhism, and Confucianism, and especially against the Talmudic Jewish faith. I compared Orthodoxy with Ca­tholicism, Protestantism and neo-Protestantism. I gave atheism a great fight….

    I stayed approximately five years in total isolation, starving and naked. I stayed over fifteen years in common rooms—some smaller, others larger—in which I lived day and night, forced to take care of all bodily necessities in the room in a “tineta,” a kind of bucket. Sometimes eight people would be squeezed into a cell six-and-a-half feet square, sleeping two, three or four to a bed. Our bodies and souls were, every moment, rubbing against each other. The terror of the guards, hunger, cold and illness seemed easy to us compared to the terror that is created between men who are different, desperate and often degraded.

    I did agricultural work for two years. It was slave labor, and we were hungry and naked. Although we worked in vineyards and vege­table gardens, we were starving because we were not allowed to taste even a little of the fruit or vegetables. I was hungry for over twenty years, often dystrophic because of malnutrition. My body was freezing during all those years in prison. I was beaten, tormented and tortured for years, unto the destruction of physical and spiritual resistance. I have known the awful domain of living beyond bearable limits. For years I was threatened with death. “My soul” was continually asked of me. I often offered my life and I preferred the prospect of death in or­der to save my soul, my conscience, and my integrity; and only God protected me from falling. There exists no man who can withstand all the tortures. Many years—about fifteen in number — I was terrorized with the prospect of “re-education” in order to “restructure me,” and “wash my brain.” I refused, not fearing death but fearing that’ I might break down. Only Divine Providence saved me. I suffered terror from the jailors, and terror even more ferocious from informers and assas­sin prisoners, who had sold themselves to the political powers. I knew demonized human beings, with demonic expressions on their faces, who performed demonic acts. I was surrounded in an atmosphere of collective demons, which oscillated between madness and criminality. I took care of men who were dying: some hopeless, some in a state of revolt, others calm. I saw “saints” who radiated light, dying in a heav­enly atmosphere. I listened to professors, scholars, literary men, and I learned more than in a university. I knew Communists and Jews in prison, and I also knew those who had been in power. I took care of the general who presided over the military court that condemned me. It was given to me to close his eyes. After he had served the rulers, he too had been flung into prison.

    I have known the bourgeois and the Communist, both as a free man and as a prisoner. All of this I filtered through the Spirit of Christ in which I strove all my life to live. At the end of this bitter experience, only Christ remains alive, whole and eternal in me…

    Now, a New Atheism is rising to ‘save’ mankind from God. They regard organized religion as a threat to world peace.

    Sooner than later we’ll witness false miracles performed by means of demonic powers. “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if [it were] possible, they shall deceive the very elect..”
    A Fakir’s “Miracle” and the Prayer of Jesus. By Archimandrite Nicholas Drobyazgin

    I had completely forgotten that I was a priest-monk and, it would seem, had no business at all participating in such a spectacle. The spell was so powerful that both the mind and the heart were silent. My heart began to beat painfully in alarm. Suddenly I was beside myself. A fear took hold of my whole being.
    My lips began to move and say: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!” Immediately I felt relieved. It was just as if some mysterious chains which had bound me began to fall away. The prayer became more concentrated, and with it my peace of soul returned. I continued to look at the tree, and suddenly, as if pursued by the wind, the picture became clouded and was dispersed. I saw nothing more except the big tree, illuminated by the light of the moon, and likewise the fakir sitting in silence by the bonfire, while my companions continued to express what they were experiencing while gazing at the picture, which for them had not been broken off.

    But then something apparently happened to the fakir also. He reeled to the side. The youth ran up to him in alarm. The seance was suddenly broken up.

    Deeply moved by everything they had experienced, the spectators stood up, animatedly sharing their impressions and not understanding at all why the whole thing had been cut off so sharply and unexpectedly. The youth explained it as owing to the exhaustion of the fakir, who was sitting as before, his head down, and paying not the slightest attention to those present.
    This phenomenon may be seen in Eastern Meditation” (even when it may be given the name of “Christian”), and perhaps even in those strange “gifts” which in our days of spiritual decline are mislabeled “charismatic..”

  9. cynthia curran :

    Dean, I heard, figures from 7 to 20 percent of the population christian in the eastern part of the empire around the early 4th century.

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