Rorate Caeli

Metropolitan John of Pergamon: No imminent reunion between Orthodoxy and Catholicism

On September 26, 2009, Metropolitan John (Zizioulas) of Pergamon, the Ecumenical Patriarchate's most prominent exponent of ecumenical dialogue, sent a letter to the Metropolitans of the Orthodox Church of Greece denouncing the vehement opposition within that Church to dialogue with Rome. In the course of the letter the Metropolitan states:

3. It is being propagated very falsely and conspiringly that the signing of the union of the Churches is imminent! A professor emeritus of Theology, who is well known for his ill-will towards my person, had visited a Hierarch of the Church of Greece and had told him that he knew with certainty (!) that the union had already been signed (in Ravenna!) and that the relative announcement was a matter of time!!! Clergy and laity have approached me and asked me if it is true that the union is to be signed in Cyprus, in October! Obviously, a feeling of unrest is being attempted among the people of God through this behaviour, with unpredictable consequences for the unity of the Church. However, those who are disseminating these things are fully aware (as long as they have not been blinded by empathy, fanaticism or a mania for self-projection), firstly, that the ongoing theological Dialogue has yet to span an extremely long course, because the theological differences that have accumulated during the one thousand years of division are many; and secondly, that the Committee for the Dialogue is entirely unqualified for the "signing" of a union, given that this right belongs to the Synods of the Churches. Therefore, why all the misinformation? Can't the disseminators of these false "updates" think of what the consequences will be for the unity of the Church? «He who agitates (God's people) shall bear the blame, whoever he may be» (Galatians 5:10)


While the letter is directed towards some sectors of the Orthodox Church of Greece, its strictures are doubtless applicable as well to certain Catholic journalists, apologists and clerics who have been perpetually predicting the imminent reunion of Orthodoxy and Catholicism, without regard for the continued dogmatic differences (whether real or perceived) between the two. The letter also shows how imprudent and unrealistic talk about "imminent reconciliation" only causes renewed anti-Roman agitation within the Orthodox Churches.


Also of interest: a letter from the very anti-Roman Metropolitan Seraphim of Pireaus, quoting the harsh denunciation by Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople in 1997 of papal infallibility and of the Filioque -- something that I suspect some of our professional ecumenists, with their rose-tinted glasses, have either not read or do not want to read.

36 comments:

John McFarland said...

Mr. Palad,

Closely paraphrasing a sedevacantist bishop's remark in a recent interview: if the Vatican can do the Declaration with the Lutherans on justification, they can do anything.

As regards the Filioque: worst case, they can just not use it, as Pope John Paul the Great famously did in his encyclical on the Holy Ghost, Dominum et vivificantem, when quoting the passage from the Nicene Creed from which the title of the encyclical came. As for the status of the Pope, in his Ut unum sint, the same Holy Father put out a call for a new and improved papal primacy to solve our ecumenical problem. Once someone takes him up on it, we'll be all set on our side.

The problem is not with the Vatican; the problem is with the Orthodox -- if, that is, you consider the absence of the Catholic-Orthodox equivalent of the Catholic-Lutheran Declaration a problem.

Anonymous said...

Could this really be something like a "scientific hoax" such as the infamous Piltdown Man? Could some quasi-sane ecumenist, in a personally intolerable state of letdown regarding the lack of success which ecumenism has had, have cooked up this dangerous farce to "really get things going"?

It's either that, or someone has maliciously done something very bad.

Zakhur

Cradle said...

“Not to oppose error is to approve it; and not to defend truth is to suppress it, and, indeed, to neglect to confound evil men - when we can do it - is no less a sin than to encourage them”

Pope St. Felix III

Br. Anthony, T.O.S.F. said...

There is one way to to obtain the conversion of the Orthodox: the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary!

Please, Holy Father. Just try it once.

Irenaeus of New York said...

The Anti-Roman feeling among the Orthodox is much worse than the West likes to believe. I dont know why so many deny this obvious reality. They RCC is fooling itself if they think we are anywhere close to reunion.

Here is a list of prominent Orthodox Mets/Elders/Monks/etc who will never reunite with Rome.

http://oodegr.com/english/oikoumenismos/omologia_pistews.htm

Anonymous said...

And yet, sometimes such denial is all the more indicative of something's imminence. I mean, the rumors here are more specific than anything I've heard on our side. And he doesnt exactly say, "it isnt happening" directly. He skirts that question by implying things about how there are still hurdles, but avoids outright denial that SOMETHING big isnt going to happen soon. Full reunion, maybe not. But something? Very possibly. Remember how much denial and naysaying there was before, for example, Summorum Pontificum, or the lifting of the excommunications?

beng said...

Ah, not that I don't desire a united Christendom but I believe that a united Christendom will never happened till the end of times. It's simply impossible knowing the vast differences. And that includes the Orthodox.

Metropolitan John Pergamon is simply speaking the truth.

Anonymous said...

Drat! The Orthodox bishops must have seen that effete French dance put up here on Rorate Cœli. Now look what you've done, New Catholic!

Zzzzzzzz

P.K.T.P.

Carlos Antonio Palad said...

Mr. McFarland:

Even if Rome comes to the point of surrendering on the point of using the Filioque, that will not solve anything. What most Orthodox demand is that we Catholics also condemn the Filioque as heretical. And that we can never do. (Yes, I am aware that some Orthodox are willing to consider the Filioque as an acceptable theologoumenon, but they apparently do not represent the opinion of any Orthodox Synod now sitting.)

Carlos Antonio Palad said...

Anonymous said:

"And yet, sometimes such denial is all the more indicative of something's imminence. I mean, the rumors here are more specific than anything I've heard on our side. And he doesnt exactly say, "it isnt happening" directly. He skirts that question by implying things about how there are still hurdles, but avoids outright denial that SOMETHING big isnt going to happen soon."

Please refer to the following passages from the Metropolitan's letter:

"It is being propagated very falsely and conspiringly that the signing of the union of the Churches is imminent!"

"why all the misinformation? Can't the disseminators of these false "updates" think of what the consequences will be for the unity of the Church?"

I think that Met. John is rather clear that "it isn't happening."

As for the comparison with Summorum Pontificum, I think that isn't accurate. The groundwork for SP was already laid down by the Commission of Nine Cardinals in 1986, and the "Universal Indult" was already being discussed in the last years of the reign of John Paul II -- Cardinal Ratzinger was certainly in favor of greater freedom for the TLM. Once he was elected Pope in 2005 it could be reasonably predicted that the TLM would be liberated sooner than later. (I still remember some of the griping in 2005, 2006 and early 2007 that it didn't come sooner)

Adeodatus said...

We could really help one another. The Orthodox fast like heroes and are devoted to the saints, but they lack the benefits of central authority and contemporary moral teaching (like Humanae Vitae). But their spiritual depth and zeal could help revitalize the West.

Greece is the wife of Rome and we should not permit that there be a divorce.

Anonymous said...

"Greece is the wife of Rome and we should not permit that there be a divorce."
Earth to Adeodatus:
Greeks would beg to differ.

Irenaeus of New York said...

Link to Orthodox Petition Against Ecumenism

Anonymous said...

Do you think the Orthodox want to be in communion with the likes of these priests.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Lfd1LpOLzU

Not!.

lexetlibertas said...

Patriarchs Bartholomew and Kiril should catch the next flight to Rome, crawl to St Peter's on their blooded knees, kiss the Sacred Feet of the Supreme Pontiff, then kiss his ring.

After which, they can beg mercy and forgiveness for a thousand years of schism.

After which, they can prostrate themselves while the Holy Father pronounces absolution, with both his feet resting on their necks.

Then, and only then, will there be reunion.

Hey, a Papophile can dream, can't he?

Anonymous said...

"As regards the Filioque: worst case, they can just not use it, as Pope John Paul the Great famously did in his encyclical on the Holy Ghost, Dominum et vivificantem, when quoting the passage from the Nicene Creed from which the title of the encyclical came. As for the status of the Pope, in his Ut unum sint, the same Holy Father put out a call for a new and improved papal primacy to solve our ecumenical problem. Once someone takes him up on it, we'll be all set on our side."

This comment is ridiculous. John Paul II is/was not "the Great".
If you look at the wreckage of the Roman Catholic Church during his 26 1/2 years of inneptitude, and radical agendas you will see with open eyes that in no way could he be given the honorific title "The Great". There is to my knowledge only 1-2 Popes in the history of the Church to which this title was given by succeeding generations....Pope Gregory the Great (a 6th century Pope), and I believe one of the Popes named Leo.
One is given the honorific title "the great" only when a Pope leaves the Church flourishing and strong, in much better shape than when he took up the Papal office.
This was definitly NOT the case with John Paul II. He was, and always will be simply: Pope John Paul II (1920-1985, pope from 1978-2005).

Any future Pope I hope would not compromise the status, patrimony, and history of the Roman Catholic Church for the sake of union with the Orthodox.
I admire the Orthodox. They would never engage in ecumenical dialog with the Protestants, and the thousands of sects that have matasticized from it, nor engage in eucharistic sharing, etc. as have Catholics with Lutherans and other Protestant "churches".

Moretben said...

they lack the benefits of central authority and contemporary moral teaching

Fish/bicycle
Hole/head

John McFarland said...

Mr. Palad,

Of course it's the case that nothing the Church might do would satisfy the Orthodox. From that follows the real point: that ecumenical activity with with the Orthodox is insane. The only way of reconciling the Orthodox is, with God's grace, convincing them to cease to be Orthodox.

But then all ecumenism is insane, because no non-Catholics can be reconciled individually or collectively except, with God's grace, by them to cease to hold their non-Catholic beliefs, and embrace the Faith.

Ecumenism is at least half indifferentist in principle, and all but entirely indifferentist in practice. If one were to take the Catholic-Lutheran Declaration seriously, one would have celebrated its signing by burning the Acts of the Council of Trent. The Lutherans, of course, didn't take it seriously, any more than (I hope) the Catholics did.

The Orthodox are quite a different story. The beliefs that make them Orthodox are false; but at least they don't behave as if they think you can both believe and not believe in what you profess to believe.

John McFarland said...

Welcome, Anonymous 11:38. If you think that I was being serious in referring to Pope John Paul II as The Great, you're obviously new around here.

I am the self-appointed voice crying in the wilderness against what might be called Benedictine traditionalism: folks who go to the traditional Mass but also believe in the hermeneutic of continuity.

Most of my kindred spirits have given up, but I soldier on.

Again, welcome.

Peter said...

No surprise. How can there be unity when one party doesn't want to unite?

Objectively speaking, conscious, formal schism and conscious, formal heresy are one of the worst sins that a man can commit.

Denying filioque (that is, ignoring the Greek Church Father, St. Athanasius) means falsifying the truth about the Trinity, which is one of the fundamental beliefs.

The East has denied scholastics, it's often stuck in aversion towards reason so deep that you simple can't explain them some things, because they won't accept theology from the 2nd millenium just because it's from the 2nd millenium.

It needs divine intervention, the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart (take part in the SSPX Rosary Crusade for that! It's definitely worth it.). Our Lady promised us conversion.

Otherwise, if we can't agree about the very basics AND the East has no interest in reunification how can we reunite?

I'm all for the unity and bringing back the large nonlatinized and not touched by modernist iconoclasm block of Eastern spirituality and liturgy to the Church, but think. Who would they unite with? Novus Ordo Rome? Dancing French priests? Bishop Lahey? etc. etc. etc. Have you heard about any sodomite or paedophile Orthodox bishop? For them it's another proof that Catholicism is not the true religion.

On the other hand, the Orthodox have intercommunion with the miaphysite (monophysite) Oriental Orthodox Church of Etiopia, with its strange canon of the Holy Scripture.

Monophysitism (miaphysitism) is a heresy denying the truth about the Person of the Redeemer, so it's at least as fundamental as denying the truth about Holy spirit.

Therefore I suppose that it all goes more about pride and unwillingness to subject to the evil Pope and the evil Latins, than faith.


I admire the Orthodox. They would never engage in ecumenical dialog with the Protestants, and the thousands of sects that have matasticized from it, nor engage in eucharistic sharing, etc. as have Catholics with Lutherans and other Protestant "churches".

I have written about the Ethiopian case. Also, there was joint declaration about the Eucharist by Orthodox (Estonian, as far as I remember but better google for it) and Protestants. Modern world is a cesspit, you can't separate yourself totally from the dirt even if you're Orthodox.

Gideon Ertner said...

"I admire the Orthodox. They would never engage in ecumenical dialog with the Protestants..."

Not true. Most Orthodox churches, including the Ecumenical Patriarchate, are members of the ecumenical body "World Council of Churches", which also encompasses an enormous range of Protestant groups. The Catholic Church, meanwhile, is not a member.

Of course, as far as I am aware, in most Orthodox settings ecumenical activities tend to proceed in a somewhat more orderly manner than happens many places in the Catholic world

Gideon Ertner said...

"Denying filioque (that is, ignoring the Greek Church Father, St. Athanasius) means falsifying the truth about the Trinity, which is one of the fundamental beliefs."

Good grief, is that old chestnut still alive?

[Sigh] Denying the Filioque does not make one an Arian. If so, the Councils of Nicea and Constantinople I were Arian, because the original version of the Nicene Creed does not include the Filioque.

The Easterners (both Catholic and schismatic) have a subtly different conception of the relationship between the three divine Persons than that which we have traditionally had in the West, and which prompted us to insert the Filioque. But for a long time now, both Eastern and Western Catholic theologians have agreed that they are not mutually exclusive.

Most Eastern Catholic churches do not include the Filioque, and it is not present even in the Modern Greek translation of the Roman liturgy.

Gideon Ertner said...

"I am the self-appointed voice crying in the wilderness against what might be called Benedictine traditionalism: folks who go to the traditional Mass but also believe in the hermeneutic of continuity.

And I take it you believe in the Hermeneutic of Rupture and Discontinuity, then? Which would make you agree with the Liberal Catholics, only from a different perspective: the post-conciliar Church is an entirely different structure than the pre-conciliar one.

As the Liberal Catholics believe that only the post-conciliar Magisterium is worth adhering to and the pre-conciliar Magisterium a load of rubbish, you believe that only the pre-conciliar Magisterium is worth adhering to and the post-conciliar Magisterium is a load of rubbish.

Is that what you believe?

Have the gates of Hell prevailed?

Anonymous said...

We, Orthodox Christians, do not want any union if Latins don't renounce to the novelties and errors, and the spirit among Orthodox Christians is not desperate for that union either.
However, what some Latins and the latin pope forgets, maybe, is that we are not a centralized church, like the romans. Even if some Patriarchs move into that direction, they are not infallible, we are not bound to follow something that goes against our beliefs.
I hope the Latin church moves faster into the traditional spirit to become more what it was, even in present disagreement with us, but keep the sacred and the traditional values. The rest is God's work, who can do better than we imagine.
Stefan

Anonymous said...

To all esteemed contributors on this post so far ...

Why would anyone be surprised at this "news"?

Our Lady of Fatima in 1917 made it very clear that Russia would not convert until the Holy Father led a worldwide consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The latter has not happened and there is no indication that will happen imminently.

As such, any reports of an "imminent reunion" will certainly be spurious at best. So the report that "no imminent reunion" is afoot is a somewhat anticlimactic piece of non-news.

At worst, this might be an indication that some of the pan-Christian proximately-close-to-heresy quasi-modernists in the Vatican are desperately trying to push the envelope on a "unification in diversity" by which they would mean a diversity of theological and doctrinal belief, in short, the proverbial and biblical "Whore of Babylon".

Assuming the worst, one would have to question why this red herring would be thrown out to the media on the eve of the imminent theological discussions between Rome and the SSPX? Could it be that those same pan-Christians smell of whiff of true Catholic orthodoxy to come out of those talks, forever scuttling their perverse hope for the "Whore" to be floated on the oceans of the world's people?

Oh vanity of vanities, may Metropolitan John of Pergamon turn to Our Lady of Fatima and pray a decade of the Rosary for a return of his fold to the true ark of the Covenant, the Holy Roman Catholic Church, under the Roman Pontiff, outside of whom no soul can hope to be saved.

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!

JMJ, Toronto-Canada

Adeodatus said...

Stefan: What's the Orthodox position on contraception, and have any Orthodox believers even heard a teaching on it?

Also, you ought to check into St. Clement's "Letter to the Corinthians" (sometimes called the "first" letter, though that's really needless) and also the history of St. Athanasius versus the Greek Arians.

Jordanes said...

Most Eastern Catholic churches do not include the Filioque, and it is not present even in the Modern Greek translation of the Roman liturgy.

No including the Filioque in the Creed during the Sunday liturgy is not the same thing as denying the Filioque. It is not Catholic to insist that the Holy Spirit does not proceed from the Father and from the Son, but there is nothing contrary to the Faith in not including the Filioque in one's Sunday profession of Faith.

Anonymous said...

Adeodatus,
The Orthodox Faith never denied that the latin pope presides the Church, since it is a bishop among equals, having Rome that particular privilege, never supreme jurisdiction. So, he acts like a Patriarch for the Latins. For the Orthodoxy, rome has lost this privilege when it fell into novelties and errors. I don't want to wave this doctrine here because it is a roman website, but since you mention it, I answered something you probably also know.
Peace from the Lord and from the Theotokos.
Stefan

Peter said...

[Sigh] Denying the Filioque does not make one an Arian.

If so, the Councils of Nicea and Constantinople I were Arian, because the original version of the Nicene Creed does not include the Filioque.


I didn't say that. St. Athanasius was fighting Arianism by defending the teaching about the Trinity in its fullness, which includes the precedence of the Holy Spirit from both Father and Son. It was being understood properly, so no one cared to insert that into the Creed. There was simply no need for that.

The Easterners (both Catholic and schismatic) have a subtly different conception of the relationship between the three divine Persons than that which we have traditionally had in the West, and which prompted us to insert the Filioque.

Actually, filioque was inserted due to the revival of the wrong perception of the Trinity in the "far west", that is on the Iberian Peninsula. The Easterners had no problem with the Trinity at that time. They have invented the problem with filioque (and that's what is a real novelty) when they were looking for how to justify the schism.



Have the gates of Hell prevailed?


When the postconciliar magisterium is not in concordance with the preconciliar it doesn't mean that the gates of Hell have prevailed. It just means that it's not infallible, it's fallible, and fallen and not to be followed.

Anonymous said...

The Divine Liturgy of Paul VI

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Lfd1LpOLzU

Adam said...

"Oh vanity of vanities, may Metropolitan John of Pergamon turn to Our Lady of Fatima and pray a decade of the Rosary for a return of his fold to the true ark of the Covenant, the Holy Roman Catholic Church, under the Roman Pontiff, outside of whom no soul can hope to be saved."

The Metropolitan of Pergamon shouldn't have to pray a decade of any rosary because he has no reason to use a Latin devotion when he has an entirely rich Eastern patrimony to use.

Furthermore, for a Church (the Orthodox) that is outside the one ark of salvation, Orthodoxy has produced many post-Schism saints and miracles. While remaining faithful to the Roman Catholic Church, I'm more inclined to see our two churches as remaining united at some essential level despite all the politicking (and that's what it is) and confusion/shortcomings that has passed between us.

Jusztinián G. Rathkaj said...

far too much Rome has indulged the seperated Easterners in the past four decades . And in spite of it all even now they remain unsatisfied in their conceitedness.

Brian Kopp said...

Does Metropolitan John (Zizioulas) of Pergamon speak for the Russian Orthodox?

In reality, this post speaks more of the internal divisions within Orthodoxy than of any rumored rapproachment between Rome and Moscow.

John McFarland said...

Mr. Ertner,

Yes, the conciliar magisterium is full of teachings that are different from the gospel that was given once and for all, and so earn the Anathema sit of St. Paul in Galatians.

No, the gates of Hell have not prevailed. There are only two ways to teach infallibly; (1) by repeating what the Church has always taught and (2) if you are the Pope, by teaching ex cathedra.

(1) is not relevant here. To the extent that the conciliar hierarchy teaches what the Church has always taught, we're in good shape.

(2) is equally irrelevant. The conciliar popes do not do ex cathedra.

So things are unspeakably bad, but the Church is still here. There may only be 7,000 that have not bent the knee to Ba'al, and their wives and kids, but that's not nobody. A man named Gideon should know something about what God and small numbers of men can accomplish.

As for the Filioque: Mr. Ertner, subtlety me no subtleties. If you're a Catholic, you can say that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, or from the Father through the Son. The name for any other doctrine is heresy.

Carlos Antonio Palad said...

Dr. Kopp:

While Met. John represents only the Ecumenical Patriarchate, it is highly unlikely that he does not intend to include the Russian Orthodox Church when he says that the signing of the union of the Churches is not imminent. Besides, Archbishop Hilarion of Volokalamsk has also given recent statements to the effect that there is no hope for a union in the near future. The very recent (2008-2009) moves of Moscow and its daughter Church, the OCA, to establish a strong Orthodox presence in Latin America also argue against any hope of reunion in the near future.

Yes, there is much division among the "canonical" Orthodox, but I would caution against reading too much into these. After Constantinople and Moscow went dangerously close to schism in 1996 over the Estonian question, the two sees seem to have tried not to go anywhere near any occasion for schism, despite occasional provocations from either side.

Jordanes said...

When the postconciliar magisterium is not in concordance with the preconciliar it doesn't mean that the gates of Hell have prevailed. It just means that it's not infallible, it's fallible, and fallen and not to be followed.

But the pre-Vatican II magisterium wasn't wholly infallible either. Differences between pre-Vatican II and post-Vatican II teaching don't necessarily mean it's the post-Vatican II teaching that is off the mark.

Yes, the conciliar magisterium is full of teachings that are different from the gospel that was given once and for all, and so earn the Anathema sit of St. Paul in Galatians.

It would depend on what one means by "the conciliar magisterium." You've been hard pressed to show us a single teaching of the Church's Magisterium expressed during and since Vatican II that is different from the Gospel given once and for all.