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.