Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Orthodox and Catholics at Ravenna

The Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue Between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church was held October 8-14, 2007 in Ravenna. Their statement is titled "Ecclesiological and Canonical Consequences of the Sacramental Nature of the Church: Ecclesial Communion, Conciliarity and Authority."

Sadly, the Russian Orthodox delegation did not participate due to an intra-Orthodox disagreement about the status and participation of the Estonians. Due to the size and influence of the Moscow Patriarchate, their participation will be vital to any future progress in these conversations.

It's difficult to know what to make of this document. Perhaps the most interesting section is paragraph 39, which reads:

Unlike diocesan and regional synods, an ecumenical council is not an "institution" whose frequency can be regulated by canons; it is rather an "event", a kairos inspired by the Holy Spirit who guides the Church so as to engender within it the institutions which it needs and which respond to its nature. This harmony between the Church and the councils is so profound that, even after the break between East and West which rendered impossible the holding of ecumenical councils in the strict sense of the term, both Churches continued to hold councils whenever serious crises arose. These councils gathered together the bishops of local Churches in communion with the See of Rome or, although understood in a different way, with the See of Constantinople, respectively. In the Roman Catholic Church, some of these councils held in the West were regarded as ecumenical. This situation, which obliged both sides of Christendom to convoke councils proper to each of them, favoured dissentions which contributed to mutual estrangement. The means which will allow the re-establishment of ecumenical consensus must be sought out.
That last sentence calls for a project of overwhelming immensity. Discerning such a consensus after a thousand years of separation would be, well, miraculous. Of course, we do believe in miracles...

We'll keep saying our prayers.

Read the entire document here.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Who are the Orthodox Christians?

There are many, many ways to answer this question.

One way is to examine the Diptych (a kind of prayer list) read at a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy with the Metropolitan presiding.

The Orthodox are those Christians who are under the pastoral care of the Patriarchs, Archbishops, and Metropolitans named on the Diptych.

This is the Diptych as read in the Orthodox Church in America, under Metropolitan HERMAN:

To His Holiness, BARTHOLOMEW, Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch: Many Years!

To His Beatitude, THEODOROS, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa: Many Years!

To His Beatitude, IGNATIUS, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East: Many Years!

To His Beatitude, THEOPHILUS, Patriarch of the Holy City of Jerusalem and All Palestine: Many Years!

To His Holiness, ALEKSY, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia: Many Years!

To His Holiness, ILIA, Catholicos and Patriarch of All Georgia: Many Years!

To His Holiness, PAVLE, Patriarch of Serbia: Many Years!

To His Holiness, DANIEL, Patriarch of Romania: Many Years!

To His Holiness, MAXIM, Patriarch of Bulgaria: Many Years!

To His Beatitude, CHRYSOSTOMOS, Archbishop of New Justiniana and All Cyprus: Many Years!

To His Beatitude, CHRISTODOULOS, Archbishop of Athens and All Greece: Many Years!

To His Beatitude, ANASTASIOS, Archbishop of Tirana and All Albania: Many

To His Beatitude, SAWA, Metropolitan of Warsaw and All Poland: Many Years!

To His Beatitude KRYSTOF, Metropolitan of the Czech Lands and Slovakia: Many Years!

To His Beatitude, HERMAN, Archbishop of Washington and New York, Metropolitan of All America and Canada: Many Years!

To all Orthodox Metropolitans, Archbishops, and Bishops: Many Years!

To all Orthodox Christians: Many Years!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Orthodoxy, Materialism, and Anthropology in the New Millenium

Orthodox Leadership in a Brave New World

Fr. Johannes L. Jacobse

This article originally appeared in AGAIN Vol. 29 No. 3, Fall 2007.

Almost thirty years ago Soviet dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn delivered an address at Harvard University that still ranks as one of the most trenchant and inspired critiques of Western culture ever given. Although some of the political references are dated, two observations remain as true today as when they were first spoken. The first is that the philosophical materialism that shaped communism and led to the Gulags now operates in the Western world. The second is that mankind stands at an anthropological threshold.

What is philosophical materialism? To use Solzhenitsyn's definition, it is the belief that man has no touchstone other than himself:

To such consciousness, man is the touchstone in judging and evaluating everything on earth . . . we have lost the concept of a Supreme Complete Entity which used to restrain our passions and our irresponsibility.

Philosophical materialism has concrete cultural ramifications. To social utopians, it means that persons have no enduring value -- so society can be forcibly arranged around notions of the common good. To hedonists, it means that the body is primarily a pleasure machine. To nihilists, it means that because the death of the body is also the end of existence, we should exalt death and violence.

These themes shaped much of the course of the last century. Solzhenitsyn had firsthand experience of Marxist social utopianism, but he was not the first to sound the alarm. Almost a century earlier, Dostoevsky heard the rumblings that would make Russia susceptible to communist tyranny and warned, "Without God, everything is permitted."

Read it all at OrthodoxyToday.org