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Fr Aidan Nichols

A Catholic View of Orthodoxy

by Aidan Nichols OP

In this article I attempt an overview in four parts. First, I shall discuss why Catholics should not only show some ecumenical concern for Orthodoxy but also treat the Orthodox as their privileged or primary ecumenical partner.

Secondly, I shall ask why the schism between the Catholic and Orthodox churches occurred, focussing as it finally did on four historic 'dividing issues'.

Thirdly, I shall evaluate the present state of Catholic-Orthodox relations, with particular reference to the problem of the 'Uniate' or Eastern Catholic churches.

Fourthly and finally, having been highly sympathetic and complimentary to the Orthodox throughout, I shall end by saying what, in my judgment, is wrong with the Orthodox Church and why it needs Catholicism for (humanly speaking) its own salvation.

Part 1

First, then, why should Catholics take the Orthodox as not only an ecumenical partner but the ecumenical partner par excellence? There are three kinds of reasons: historical, theological and practical - of which in most discussion only the historical and theological are mentioned since the third sort ? what I term the 'practical' takes us into areas of potential controversy among Western Catholics themselves.

The historical reasons for giving preference to Orthodoxy over all other separated communions turn on the fact that the schism between the Roman church and the ancient Chalcedonian churches of the East is the most tragic and burdensome of the splits in historic Christendom if we take up a universal rather than merely regional, perspective.

Though segments of the Church of the Fathers were lost to the Great Church through the departure from Catholic unity of the Assyrian (Nestorian) and Oriental Orthodox (Monophysite) churches after the Councils of Ephesus (431) and Chalcedon (451) respectively, Christians representing the two principal cultures of the Mediterranean basin where the Gospel had its greatest flowering - the Greek and the Latin - lived in peace and unity with each other, despite occasional stirrings and some local difficulties right up until the end of the patristic epoch.

That epoch came to its climax with the Seventh Ecumenical Council, Nicaea II, in 787, the last Council Catholics and Orthodox have in common, and the Council which, in its teaching on. the icon, and notably on the icon of Christ, brought to a triumphant close the series of conciliar clarifications of the Christological faith of the Church which had opened with Nicaea I in 325.

The iconography, liturgical life, Creeds and dogmatic believing of the ancient Church come down to us in forms at once Eastern and Western; and it was this rich unity of patristic culture, expressing as it did the faith of the apostolic community, which was shattered by the schism between Catholics and Orthodox, never (so far) to be repaired.

And let me say at this point that Church history provides exceedingly few examples of historic schisms overcome, so if history is to be our teacher we have no grounds for confidence or optimism that this most catastrophic of all schisms will be undone. 'Catastrophic' because, historically, as the present pope has pointed out, taking up a metaphor suggested by a French ecclesiologist, the late Cardinal Yves Congar: each Church, West and East, henceforth could only breathe with one lung.

No Church could now lay claim to the total cultural patrimony of both Eastern and Western Chalcedonianism - that is, the christologically and therefore triadologically and soteriologically correct understanding of the Gospel. The result of the consequent rivalry and conflict was the creation of an invisible line down the middle of Europe. And what the historic onsequences of that were we know well enough from the situation of the former Yugoslavia today.

After the historical, the theological. The second reason for giving priority to ecumenical relations with the Orthodox is theological. If the main point of ecumenism, or work for the restoration of the Church's full unity, were simply to redress historic wrongs and defuse historically generated causes of conflict, then we might suppose that we should be equally - or perhaps even more - interested in addressing the CatholicProtestant divide.

After all, there have been no actual wars of religion - simply as such - between Catholics and Orthodox, unlike those between Catholics and Protestants in sixteenth century France or the seventeenth century Holy Roman Empire. But theologically there cannot be any doubt that the Catholic Church must accord greater importance to dialogue with the Orthodox than to conversations with any Protestant body.

For the Orthodox churches are churches in the apostolic succession; they are bearers of the apostolic Tradition, witnesses to apostolic faith, worship and order - even though they are also, and at the same time, unhappily sundered from the prima sedes, the first see.

Their Fathers and other ecclesiastical writers, their liturgical texts and practices, their iconographic tradition, these remain loci theologici - authoritative sources - to which the Catholic theologian can and must turn in his or her intellectual construal of Catholic Christianity. And that cannot possibly be said of the monuments of Anglican, Lutheran, Reformed or any other kind of Protestantism.

To put the same point in another way: the separated Western communities have Christian traditions - in the plural, with a small 't' - which may well be worthy of the Catholic theologian's interest and respect. But only the Orthodox are, along with the Catholic Church, bearers of Holy Tradition - in the singular, with a capital 'T', that is, of the Gospel in its plenary organic transmission through the entirety of the life - credal, doxological, ethical - of Christ's Church.

There is for Catholics, therefore, a theological imperative to restore unity with the Orthodox which is lacking in our attitude to Protestantism - though I should not be misinterpreted as saying that there is no theological basis for the impulse to Catholic-Protestant rapprochement for we have it in the prayer of our Lord himself at the Great Supper, 'that they all may be one'.

I am emphasising the greater priority we should give to relations with the Orthodox because I do not believe the optimistic statement of many professional ecumenists to the effect that all bilateral dialogues - all negotiations with individual separated communions - feed into each other in a positive and unproblematic way.

It would be nice to think that a step towards one separated group of Christians never meant a step away from another one, but such a pious claim does not become more credible with the frequency of its repeating. The issue of the ordination of women, to take but one particularly clear example, is evidently a topic where to move closer to world Protestantism is to move further from global Orthodoxy - and vice versa.

This brings me to my third reason for advocating ecumenical rapport with Orthodoxy: its practical advantages. At the present time, the Catholic Church, in many parts of the world, is undergoing one of the most serious crises in its history, a crisis resulting from a disorienting encounter with secular culture and compounded by a failure of Christian discernment on the part of many people over the last quarter century - from the highest office - holders to the ordinary faithful.

This crisis touches many aspects of Church life but notably theology and catechesis, liturgy and spirituality, Religious life and Christian ethics at large. Orthodoxy is well placed to stabilise Catholicism in most if not all of these areas.

Were we to ask in a simply empirical or phenomenological frame of mind just what the Orthodox Church is like, we could describe it as a dogmatic Church, a liturgical Church, a contemplative Church, and a monastic Church - and in all these respects it furnishes a helpful counter-balance to certain features of much western Catholicism today.

Firstly, then, Orthodoxy is a dogmatic Church. It lives from out of the fulness of the truth impressed by the Spirit on the minds of the apostles at the first Pentecost, a fulness which transformed their awareness and made possible that specifically Christian kind of thinking we call dogmatic thought.

The Holy Trinity, the God-man, the Mother of God and the saints, the Church as the mystery of the Kingdom expressed in a common life on earth, the sacraments as means to humanity's deification - our participation in the uncreated life of God himself: these are the truths among which the Orthodox live, move and have their being.

Orthodox theology in all its forms is a call to the renewal of our minds in Christ, something which finds its measure not in pure reason or secular culture but in the apostolic preaching attested to by the holy Fathers, in accord with the principal dogmata of faith as summed up in the Ecumenical Councils of the Church.[1]

Secondly, Orthodoxy is a liturgical Church. It is a Church for which the Liturgy provides a total ambience expressed in poetry, music and iconography, text and gesture, and where the touchstone of the liturgical life is not the capacity of liturgy to express contemporary concerns (legitimate though these may be in their own context), but, rather, the ability of the Liturgy to act as a vehicle of the Kingdom, our anticipated entry, even here and now, into the divine life.

Thirdly, Orthodoxy is a contemplative Church. Though certainly not ignoring the calls of missionary activity and practical charity, essential to the Gospel and the Gospel community as these are, the Orthodox lay their primary emphasis on the life of prayer as the absolutely necessary condition of all Christianity worth the name.

In the tradition of the desert fathers, and of such great theologian-mystics as the Cappadoeian fathers, St Maximus and St Gregory Palamas, encapsulated as these contributions are in that anthology of Eastern Christian spirituality the Philokalia, Orthodoxy gives testimony to the primacy of what the Saviour himself called the first and greatest commandment, to love the Lord your God with your whole heart, soul, mind and strength, for it is in the light of this commandment with its appeal for a God-centred process of personal conversion and sanctification - that all our efforts to live out its companion commandment (to love our neighbour as ourself) must be guided.

And fourthly, Orthodoxy is a monastic Church, a Church with a monastic heart where the monasteries provide the spiritual fathers of the bishops, the counsellors of the laity and the example of a Christian maximalism. A Church without a flourishing monasticism, without the lived 'martyrdom' of an asceticism inspired by the Paschal Mystery of the Lord's Cross and Resurrection, could hardly be a Church according to the mind of the Christ of the Gospels, for monasticism, of all Christian life ways, is the one which most clearly and publicly leaves all things behind for the sake of the Kingdom.

Practically speaking, then, the re-entry into Catholic unity of this dogmatic, liturgical, contemplative and monastic Church could only have the effect of steadying and strengthening those aspects of Western Catholicism which today are most under threat by the corrosives of secularism and theological liberalism.

Part 2

I turn now to the actual genesis of the schism from a Catholic standpoint, along with some account - necessarily summary and unadorned - of the four historic 'dividing issues': those disputed questions which historians can show to have most worried many Easterners when looking at developments in the Latin church, and which constituted the agenda of the reunion Councils, Lyons II in 1274 and Florence in 1439.

This is of course an enormous subject which would require an account of most of Church history in the first millenium to do it justice. Here I can only give a brief indication and refer those interested in more historical detail - and certainly there is no shortage of fascinating material available, to my Rome and the Eastern Churches. A Study in Schism [2]

The development of the schism between Greek East and Latin West was owed essentially to three factors. The first of these is the increasing cultural distance, and so alienation, suspicion and eventually hostility, which counterposed, one against the other, the Byzantine and Latin halves of the Mediterranean basin, as also tracts of Europe further afield - especially Russia on the one hand, the Germanic world on the other, evangelised as these had been from, respectively, Greek and Roman mother-churches.

As a common language, a common political framework, a common social structure, and a common theological universe became, in the late patristic and early mediaeval periods, a thing of the past, Eastern and Western Christians ceased to feel themselves parts of one Commonwealth - something given especially brutal expression in the sack of Constantinople by the crusader host in 1204.

The second principal factor in the making of the schism was the rivalry between the Byzantine emperors and the Roman popes considered as officers of the Christian commonwealth responsible for its overall direction and for the adjustment of organisational problems or clashes within it. Constantine the Great not only inherited the imperial ideology of the supreme rulers of the Roman res publica, but also permitted - perhaps encouraged - the transformation of this ideology into a fullyfledged imperial theology by such figures as Eusebius of Caesarea.[3]

The Christian emperor, though pretending to no power to determine doctrine, did claim an overall right of supervision for the public, external life of the churches. But this was exactly the position which those in the West who supported the developing theology of the unique 'Petrine' ministry of the Roman bishop wished to give the pope. In the first millenium there was no generally agreed ecclesiology of the Roman primacy. There are Latins who took a minimalist view of it, Greeks who took a maximalist.

But in general of course Westerners came to favour a high theology of the Roman church and bishop, Easterners to regard such a theological doctrine with foreboding as a departure from the ethos of the Pentarchy, the idea of the necessary concord of the five patriarchs Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem - which by the eighth century at least must count as the normal Byzantine picture of what specifically episcopal leadership entailed.

The third and last factor in the turning of tensions into an actual break was the emergence of the four disputed questions which served as lenses concentrating the heat given off in these chronic or structural tensions until it became explosive.

In order of their historic emergence, these questions or topics are: the Filioque, the nature of the Roman primacy, the use of azymes or unleavened bread in the Western Mass, and the doctrine of Purgatory, and especially the symbolisation of the intermediate state as a purifying fire.

On all these points, even that of azymes which might be thought an issue singularly unprofitable or at least peripheral to Christian thought, theological ideas of great interest were brought forward on both sides, though probably only the Filioque and the primacy question would be regarded as 'dividing' issues today.

As regards the Filioque - the procession of the Holy Spirit, according to the amended Latin version of the Creed of Nicaea-Constantinople, not only from the Father but from the Son as well, I believe that, could we count on a modicum of good will, we might well be able, without damage to the doctrinal integrity of our two communions, to resolve this technical issue in Trinitarian theology: technical, yet also crucial for how we see the Spirit in relation to the Son, and so their respective economies in their interaction in our lives. The matter of the Roman primacy is less easily disposed of, and I will return to it at the end of my presentation.

So much - very schematically, and inadequately, - on the historic genesis of the schism and its quartet of doctrinal conflagration points. The operation of the three factors - the mutual cultural estrangement, the conflicting expectations for the ro1es of emperor and pope, and the specifically theological issues, meant that by the 1450's the Byzantine church, in rejecting the Florentine union of 1439, had definitely broken communion with the Roman see, a situation gradually extended in a rather uneven way to the rest of the Orthodox world in the course of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, there being some examples of communicatio in sacris - for instance of the use of Latin clergy, chiefly Jesuits, to preach and hear the confessions of the Greek Orthodox faithful - even as late as the first half of the eighteenth century in some places.

Part 3

I come now to the third part of my paper which concerns the present state of Catholic-Orthodox relations. After a preparatory phase of initial contacts known as the 'dialogue of charity', the Catholic-Orthodox theological dialogue was officially established in 1979, with the 'common declaration' made by the Ecumenical Patriarch Dimitrios 1 and Pope John Paul II at the conclusion of the tatter's visit to the Phanar, the patriarchal seat in Istanbul, in November of that year.

At that juncture the situation between Orthodox and Catholics was from one point of view more hopeful than at, say, the time of the Council of Florence, but from another viewpoint it was less hopeful. It was more hopeful in that the participation of the Orthodox in the Ecumenical Movement from the 1920's onwards had accustomed them to the idea of work for Christian unity - though a strong and vociferous minority have always expressed reservations about this policy as likely to confirm what Catholics would call 'indifferentism'.

If at its origins the Ecumenical Movement was largely a pan-Protestant conception, the entry of the Orthodox into its ranks pressed that Movement, nonetheless, in a direction which made it possible for the Catholic Church to join it, nearly forty years later, on the eve of the Second Vatican Council. The Orthodox had this salutary effect in that their voices - combined with those of neo-patristically minded Anglicans (a species more common then than now) - succeeded in dispelling the sense that ecumenism was basically a movement preparing a purely moral and sentimental - rather than doctrinal and sacramental - union of Christians.

Along these broad lines, then, the Orthodox churches had functioned highly constructively within the Ecumenical Movement up to the 1980's, though whether they can continue to do so in the context of the World Council of Churches in the future - given the capture of the latter by a largely secular agenda - remains to be seen.

To this glowing account of Orthodox ecumenism one important caveat must be appended. It is possible to overrate the theological component of the role of Orthodoxy in the twentieth century Ecumenical Movement by overlooking the fact that the desire of many Orthodox for greater contest with Western communions was in part a pragmatic and even political one.

With the collapse of the Russian Tsardom in 1917, that mighty protector of the Orthodox churches was no more, and Orthodox communities in hostile States like Bolshevik Russia or Kemalist Turkey, or in comparatively weak confessionally Orthodox States such as Bulgaria and Greece, needed the support of a still surviving Christian political conscience in such great Powers of the first half of this century as Britain and the United States.

This realistic caution about the motives of some Orthodox ecumenism brings me to the less hopeful features of the situation which surrounded the opening of official dialogue at the beginning of the 1980's.

In the more than five hundred years since the collapse of the Florentine Union, Orthodox and Catholics had had time to practise yet more polemics against each other, to coarsen their images of each other, and also to add (especially from the Orthodox side) new bones of doctrinal contention though in one case, the definition in 1870 of the universal jurisdiction and doctrinal infallibility of the Roman bishop, the dismay of the Orthodox was of course entirely predictable, as was pointed out by several Oriental Catholic bishops at the First Vatican Council.

We find for instance such influential Orthodox thinkers as the Greek Orthodox Priest, theologian John Romanides attacking the Western doctrine of original sin as heretical, thus rendering the Latin Marian dogma of the Immaculate Conception - Mary's original righteousness - superfluous if not nonsensical. Or again, and this would be a point that exercised those responsible for the official dialogue of the last fifteen years, some Orthodox now wished to regard the pastoral practice whereby many local churches in the Latin West delay the confirmation (or chrismation) of children till after their first Holy Communion as based on a gravely erroneous misjudgment in sacramental doctrine.

None of this, however, prevented the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church - to give it its mouthful of a title - from producing several (three, to be precise) very useful documents on the shared understanding (in the Great Church of which Orthodoxy and Catholicism are the two expressions) of the mystery of the Church herself, in her sacramental and especially eucharistic structure, seen in relation to the mystery of the triune God, the foundational reality of our faith. These statements are known by their place and date of origin: Munich 1982, Bari 1987, and Valamo (Finland) 1988.[4]

The shadow cast more recently was in 1979 only a cloud on the horizon, a cloud, as in Elijah's dealings with Ahab in the First Book of Kings, no bigger than a man's hand. And this is the threat posed to the dialogue by the re-invigoration of hitherto
communist-suppressed Uniate or Eastern Catholic churches, notably those of the Ukraine and Transylvania, in the course of the later 1980's and 1990's.

The existence of Byzantine-rite communities in union with the Holy See was already a major irritant to the Orthodox, even though some of these communities, for instance in Southern Italy and Sicily, had enjoyed an unbroken existence and were in no sense the result of prosyletism or political chicanery.

What the Orthodox quite naturally and rightly object to is Uniatism as a method of detaching Orthodox dioceses and parishes from their mother churches on a principle of divide et impera. Not all partial unions with the Byzantine Orthodox can be brought historically under this heading, for some, such as that with a portion of the Antiochene patriarchate which produced the present Melkite church, are principally the result of Eastern, not Western, initiative.

But that the pope (John Paul II) who presided over the beginnings of Catholic-Orthodox dialogue should also be a pope who played a major role in the destruction of Communism has certainly proved to be one of the ironies of Church history. The passing of Marxist-Leninist hegemony, the internal disintegration of the Soviet Union, the copycat rebellions against a Nationalist Communist nomenktatura in such countries as Rumania, made possible the re-emergence of Oriental Catholic churches once forcibly re-united with the Orthodox by Stalin's Comintern in the aftermath of World War II.

The process has been sufficient to place in jeopardy the project of Catholic-Orthodox reunion which is the one goal of ecclesiastical as distinct from merely public policy most dear to the heart of this extraordinary Slav bishop of Rome.

Thus in June 1990 at the plenary meeting of the Commission at Freising in Bavaria, the Orthodox refused to continue with the official agenda in discussing 'Conciliarity and Authority: the Ecclesiological and Canonical Consequences of the Sacramental Stricture of the Church' until a document could be agreed on the Byzantine-rite Catholic churches, a document actually produced at Balamand in the Lebanon in 1993 and which has, regrettably, failed to satisfy many Orthodox whilst angering many Oriental Catholics.[5]

Part 4

This brings me to the fourth and concluding section of my 'overview' where, as mentioned at the outset, I will single out for, I hope, charitable and eirenic comment one negative aspect of Orthodoxy where, in my opinion, the Orthodox need Catholic communion just as - for quite different reasons already outlined - Catholics need (at this time in history above all) the Orthodox Church.

The animosity, indeed the barely contained fury, with which many Orthodox react to the issue of Uniatism is hardly explicable.except in terms of a widespread and not readily defensible Orthodox feeling about the relation between the nation and the Church.

There must be, after all, some factor of social psychology or corporate ideology which complicates this issue. Bear in mind that the Orthodox have felt no difficulty this century in creating forms of Western-rite Orthodoxy, for example in France under the aegis of the Rumanian patriarchate or more recently in the United States under the jurisdiction of an exarch of the patriarch of Antioch. And what are these entities if not Orthodox Uniatism - to which the Catholic Church has, however, made no objection.

Nor do such non-Chalcedonian churches as the Assyrians (in Iraq and Iran), the Jacobites (in Syria) or the Syro-Malabar Christians of South India react in this way to the notion that some of their communities may be in peace and communion with the elder Rome. A partial - and significant - exception among such non-Chalcedonian Orthodox churches is the Copts of Egypt - precisely because of the notion that the Coptic patriarch is father of the whole Coptic nation. In other words, what we may call a political factor - giving the word 'political' its broadest possible meaning - has entered in.

It is the close link between Church and national consciousness, patriotic consciousness, which renders Uniatism so totally unacceptable in such countries as Greece and Rumania, and it is this phenomenon of Orthodox nationalism which I find the least attractive feature of Orthodoxy today.

An extreme example is the widespread philosophy in the Church of Serbia which goes by the name of the mediaeval royal Serbian saint Sava - hence Svetosavlje, 'Saint-Sava-sm'. The creation of the influential bishop Nikolay Velimirovich, who died in 1956, it argues that the Serbian people are, by their history of martyrdom, an elect nation, even among the Orthodox, a unique bearer of salvific suffering, an incomparably holy people, and counterposes them in particular to their Western neighbours who are merely pseudo-Christians, believers in humanity without divinity.[6]

And if the origins of such Orthodox attitudes lie in the attempts of nineteenth century nationalists to mobilise the political potential of Orthodox peasantries against both Islamic and Catholic rulers, these forces, which I would not hesitate to call profoundly unChristian, can turn even against the interests of Orthodoxy itself - as we are seeing today in the embarrassing campaign on the Holy Mountain Athos, to dislodge non-Greek monks and discourage non-Greek pilgrims, quite against the genius of the Athonite monastic republic which, historically, is a living testimony to Orthodox interethnicity, Orthodox internationalism.

To a Catholic mind, the Church of Pentecost is a Church of all nations in the sense of ecclesia ex gentibus, a Church taken from all nations, gathering them - with, to be sure, their own human and spiritual gifts- into a universal community in the image of the divine Triunity where the difference between Father, Son and Spirit only subserves their relations of communion.

The Church of Pentecost is not an ecctesia in gentibus, a Church distributed among the nations in the sense of parcelled out among them, accommodating herself completely to their structures and leaving their sense of
autonomous identity undisturbed.

Speaking as someone brought up in a national Church, the Church of England, though I am happy to consider myself perfectly English, I also regard it as a blessing of catholicity to be freed from particularism into the more spacious life of a Church raised up to be an ensign for all nations, a Church where those of every race, colour and culture can feel at home, in the Father's house.

It is in this final perspective that one should consider the role of the Roman bishop as a 'universal primate' in the service of the global communion of the churches. One of the most loved titles of the Western Middle Ages for the Roman bishop was universalis papa, and while one would nor wish to retrieve all aspects of Latin ecclesiology in the high mediaeval period, to a Catholic Christian the universal communion of the local churches in their multiple variety does need a father in the pope, just as much as the local church itself, with its varied congregations, ministries and activities, needs a father in the person of the bishop.

It is often said that such an ecclesiology of the papal office is irredeemably Western and Latin, and incapable of translation into Oriental terms. I believe this statement to be unjustified. Just as a patriarch, as regional primate, is responsible for the due functioning of the local churches of in
his region under their episcopal heads, so a universal primate is responsible for the operation of the entire episcopal
taxis or order, and so for all the churches on a world?wide scale.

Needless to say, this office is meant for the upbuilding, not the destruction, of that episcopal order, founded ultimately as the latter is on the will of the Redeemer in establishing the apostolic mission, and further refined by Tradition in the institution of patriarchal and other primacies in this or that portion of the ecclesial whole. But at the same time, if the ministry of a first bishop is truly to meet the needs of the universal Church it will sometimes have to take decisions that are hard on some local community and unpopular with it.

Were the Orthodox and Catholic Churches to become one, some reform of the structure of the Roman primacy would nonetheless be necessary, especially at the level of the curia romana. The congregation for the Oriental Churches would become a secretariat at the service of the permanent apocrisaries (envoys) of the patriarchs and other primates.

The great majority of the other dicastsries would be re-defined as organs of the Western patriarch, rather than the supreme Pontiff. And yet no universal primacy that merely rubber-stamped the decisions of local or regional churches would be worth having; it would be appearance without reality.

Thus the pope as universal primate would need to retain: first, a doctrinal organ for the coordination of Church teaching, and secondly, some kind of 'apostolic secretaryship', replacing the present ill-named 'Secretariat of State', for the harmonisation of principles of pastoral care. To these could be added, thirdly, whichever of the 'new curial' bodies dealing with those outside the household of faith might be deemed to have proved their usefulness, and finally, a continuing 'Council for the Public Affairs of the Church', for the defence of the freedom of the churches (and of human rights) vis-à-vis State power.

The utility of the fourth of these to the Orthodox is obvious. As to the rest (of which only the first two are crucial in importance) they should function only on the rarest ocasions of 'crisis-management' as instruments of papal action in the Eastern churches. Normally, they should act, rather, as channels whereby impulses from the Eastern churches - impulses dogmatic, liturgical, contemplative, monastic in tenor -could reach via the pope the wider Church and world.

For this purpose the apocrisaries of the patriarchs, along with the prefects of the Western dicasteries, would need to constitute their governing committees, under papal presidency. It should go without saying that Oriental churches would naturally enjoy full parity with the Latin church throughout the world, and not simply in their homelands - the current Catholic practice. [7]

The Orthodox must ask themselves (as of course they do!) whether such instruments of universal communion (at once limiting and liberating) may not be worth the price. Or must the pleasures of particularity come first?

This paper was delivered at a meeting of Pro Scandiae Populis, on the theme of Catholic?Orthodox relations, at Turku (Aabo), Finland, on 21st April 1995. The section outlining a possible reform of the Roman curia in this context has been added by way of response to a tacit request for clarification from Bishop Ambrosius of Joensuu of the Orthodox Church of Finland.

1 Cf. A. Nichols, O. P., Light from the East. Authors and Themes in Orthodox Theology (London 1995).

2 Edinburgh 1992.

3 J.-M. Sansterre, 'Eusebe de Césarée et la naissance de la théorie "cesaropapiste"', Byzantion 42 (1972), pp. 131-195; 532-594.

4 Conveniently gathered together in P. McPartlan (ed.), One in 2000? Towards Catholic-Orthodox Unity (Middlegreen, Slough, 1993).

5 A communique published in its English form in One in Christ XXX 1 (1994), pp. 74-82.

6 See T. Bremer, Ekklesiale Struktur and Ekklesiologie in der Serbischen Orthodoxen Kirche im 19. and 20. Jahrhundert (Wiirzburg 1992).

7 A justifiable cause of anger among Oriental Catholics today: see T. E. Bird, 'The Vatican Decree on the Eastern Catholic Churches Thirty Years Later', Sophia 21, 4 (1994), pp. 23-29.

Reproduced with permission from New Blackfriars Vol 77 No. 905 June 1996

This version: 29th July 2012

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