Tuesday, September 22, 2009

What to Make of This?

For those who still wander onto this site, please forgive the lack of posting in recent months. Much of my attention is now devoted to cultivating our mission parish, St. Matthew the Apostle Orthodox Church. Please take the time to visit with us if you have the opportunity!

The article below is a fairly calm and measured report of recent meetings that have generated all sorts of speculation. My own sense is that we may be entering a season of greater cooperation and common witness amongst Russian Orthodox and the Vatican in response to the moral decline of Europe - but any talk of "inter-communion" or a "healing of the 1000 year old schism" is vastly premature. Nonetheless, we should give thanks for the opportunity to explore renewed contact and pray for the courage to be steadfast in the faith and open to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. - Fr. M

Will the "Third Rome" Reunite With the "First Rome"?

By Robert Moynihan

WASHINGTON, D.C., SEPT. 21, 2009 (Zenit.org)- Sometimes there are no fireworks. Turning points can pass in silence, almost unobserved.

It may be that way with the "Great Schism," the most serious division in the history of the Church. The end of the schism may come more quickly and more unexpectedly than most imagine.

On Sept. 18, inside Castel Gandolfo, the Pope's summer palace about 30 miles outside Rome, a Russian Orthodox Archbishop named Hilarion Alfeyev, 43 (a scholar, theologian, expert on the liturgy, composer and lover of music), met with Benedict XVI, 82 (also a scholar, theologian, expert on the liturgy and lover of music), for almost two hours, according to informed sources. (There are as yet no "official" sources about this meeting -- the Holy See has still not released an official communiqué about the meeting.)

The silence suggests that what transpired was important -- perhaps so important that the Holy See thinks it isn't yet prudent to reveal publicly what was discussed.

But there are numerous "signs" that the meeting was remarkably harmonious.

If so, this Sept. 18 meeting may have marked a turning point in relations between the "Third Rome" (Moscow) and the "First Rome" (Rome) -- divided since 1054.

Archbishop Hilarion was in Rome for five days last week as the representative of the new Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill of Moscow.

One key person Archbishop Hilarion met with was Cardinal Walter Kasper. On Sept. 17, the cardinal told Vatican Radio that he and Archbishop Hilarion had a "very calm conversation."

Cardinal Kasper also revealed something astonishing: that he had suggested to the archbishop that the Orthodox Churches form some kind of "bishops' conference at the European level" that would constitute a "direct partner of cooperation" in future meetings.

This would be a revolutionary step in the organization of the Orthodox Churches.

Read it all here.