Friday, February 11, 2011

Metropolitan Hilarion- Buzzkill

Here's the other article that I had previously mentioned on ecumenism. This time, the honesty comes from Russian Orthodox Metropolitan Hilarion, courtesty of the Register. He has some positive comments, but it's mostly a big bucket of cold water.

Good stuff:

Has Catholic-Orthodox unity become more of a possibility in recent years? If so, since when, or because of what?

I think certain feasible positive changes came with the beginning of the pontificate of Benedict XVI. He is a man of the Church. He is very traditional in his understanding of the dogma and of morality and he is very close to the Orthodox Church. He highly respects Orthodox traditions. He knows Orthodox theology, and as he indicated in his latest book, Orthodox concerns are very close to his heart. He speaks very highly about the Ecumenical Patriarch (Bartholomew I). He speaks very highly and also very personally about his encounters with the current Patriarch of Moscow, Kirill. And it is clear that, for him, the relationship with the Orthodox Church is one of the primary tasks on his agenda.

Nice of him to say.

Blunt admission:

How would you describe recent dialogue on the issue of primacy? What is each side saying? Has either side shown any sign of possibly changing?

Well, Pope John Paul II called on everybody, particularly on the Orthodox to express their understanding of primacy.

In his encyclical Ut Unum Sint.

Yes. I believe we the Orthodox are ourselves not altogether clear about what we mean by primacy and how this primacy should be exercised. We have, for example, certain differences between the primacy as it is understood by the Patriarchate of Constantinople and the primacy as it is understood by the Patriarchate of Moscow.

And so we come to the point that nobody on the East seems to want to discuss. When the rubber hits the road, the Orthodox are in the same boat as the Anglicans on the issues that really matter for what we should be talking about. They can't even agree among themselves. That being the case, how are they supposed to mend the breach with Rome?

What can they agree on? That Rome is wrong. This is the bad stuff.

In any case, we do not believe that there could be a bishop above all other bishops whose decisions would be binding for the entire Church. We believe that the bishop of Rome in the first Millennium was obviously first in honor but he was first among equals. He did not have direct jurisdiction, for example, over the East. Therefore, when we come to the discussion of the primacy we would argue that the universal jurisdiction of the Pope is something that didn’t exist in the first Millennium and that if we restore, for example, Eucharistic communion, we would accept his role as first among equals but not as the universal bishop.

This is a perspective that is not likely to promote progress. I applaud him, though, for being open with his thoughts. He clearly isn't looking to suck up to anyone.

I believe that when some people talk about breakthroughs, it was a wishful thinking rather than anything close to reality. We are still at a rather early stage of the discussions. We still discuss the role of the bishop of Rome in the first millennium, and even on this issue we see clear differences between the Orthodox and the Catholics. If we come to the discussion of the second millennium, the differences will become much more obvious. Therefore we should not pretend that we are close to solving this problem.

Ah, that may be true, sir, but nothing is impossible. It can be solved.

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