Rorate Caeli

Etchegaray visits Moscow

According to the Bollettino, Cardinal Etchegaray "handed to the Head of the Russian Orthodox Church a cordial message from Pope Benedict XVI, accompanied by a personal gift". The Patriarch, "who particularly thanked the Pope's gesture" wrote a "personal response" to the Pontiff.

Interfax reports that:

"A meeting between Pope Benedict XVI and Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexy II is becoming evermore likely, Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, President [Emeritus] of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and Vice-Dean of the College of Cardinals said after a meeting with the Patriarch.

"The sides are progressing towards this goal, and the pace is accelerating, but the Roman Catholic Church cannot make it happen quicker, he said."


  1. Anonymous2:58 AM

    Dear Rorate: "Whoever wishes to be saved must above all keep the
    Catholic faith, for unless he keep this faith whole and entire, he will undoubtedly be lost forever."
    There will be such great miracles of grace with the return of the "Tridentine Latin Mass" for it is and has always been the 'most perfect prayer of the Church.' That Etchegaray is visiting Moscow is a very positive sign for one can only imagine the earth-shaking event it would be to see all the Orthodox Chruch of Russia joining again to the one true Chruch of Jesus Christ.
    "That they all may be one" is the prayer that should be on every priest's lips as he celebrates the Tridentine Mass in the spirit of St.John Vianney who realized so powerfully that the priesthood is the Mass and the Mass is the priesthood. Yes, a humble, pure, and holy priesthood can only come from a "contrite heart" of a sincere priest, not caught up with the things of this world.
    j hughes dunphy

  2. Anonymous12:46 PM

    But the Russian Orthodox Church is the one true church founded by Jesus Christ.

    Let us pray that Rome sees the errors of its pride and blindness and returns to the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic church soon.

  3. Anonymous3:26 PM


    "...if you are sure that you are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth --
    you then who teach others, will you not teach yourself?
    ...He who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes..."

    Let us all pray for one another that the Father's Plan be accomplished.

  4. Anonymous3:49 PM

    Anon stated that 'The Russian Orthodox Church' is the one true church founded by Christ? I don't believe Our Lord or any of His Twelve Apostles ever spent any of their time in Moscow, my friend.

    The Eastern "Orthodox" churces are divided with the True Church on the Papacy and the Immaculate Conception, the two theological stumbling blocks to re-union. A number of "Orthodox" throw other dividers in there such as accusing Rome of idolatry because of our use of statues, and a continued puerile accusation that the Pope is the anti-christ. The more rational of the "Orthodox" however don't engage in these polemics and focus on the Papacy and the Immaculate Conception.

    Many of them deny the Apostolic roots of the Papacy. However, a good number of Syrians and a very small number of Greeks accept that the Pope of Rome was in the 1st millenium the undisputed leader of the Church with rights and privileges that other Patriarchs did not enjoy, and it is suspected that the opposition to the Papacy is still largely based on false cultural pride. "We Greeks resisted the evil Pope and kicked him out of the Church" sort of diatribe. A theological exposition and continued witness to the patriarchal teachings and honors bestowed on the Successor of St Peter is the only remedy to this malaise.

    On the Immaculate Conception most Orthodox claim it to be heresy that Our Lady was never subject to the yoke of Her forefather Adam in the flesh. This is especially true among the Coptic "Orthodox", excommunicated in 451 at Chalcedon because of a misunderstaning based on the Coptic definition of Our Lord's person and two distinct natures. For 1550 years they were branded monophysites, but in the 1960s the Greek "Orthodox" Churches engaged in a theological rejoinder with the "Coptics", who then agreed to become one, hence no longer accused of monophysitism by the Greeks. The Coptics however continue to insist that the Roman definition of Mary's immaculate conception contradicts the Coptic writings of their father, St Athanasius, who was persecuted by Pope Liberius during the Arian heresy.

    All in the same breath however both Greek and Coptic "Orthodox" accept that She is the "All Holy", the perfect and spotless Ark of the Covenant.

    So perhaps there is hope in the method of defining the dogma of the Immaculate Conception in Greek and Coptic terms that reconciles with the ancient Greek and Coptic usage and words to be found in the writing of the fathers such as St Athanasius.

    While I share j hughes dunphy's enthusiasm for the liberalization of the Ancient Ordo of the Mass, and firmly believe, as he does, that many graces will come upon the Holy Church by this means, it alone will not suffice to bring Moscow to Rome.

    OUr Lady of Fatima made it very clear. Only the Pope-led collegial consecration of Russia specifically to the Immaculate Heart of Mary will grant the grace of Russia's conversion to the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Faith. One can only hope therefore that the liberalization of the Ancient Ordo may result in enough pleasing sacrifice to God the Father to grant the Holy Father the illumination to command this consecration according to Our Lady's wishes, for by this means alone will Russia become the leading daughter of the one true Church.

    Cardinal Ethegeray has yet to demonstrate a Catholic understanding of the indivisible, one, holy, Catholic and Apostolic Faith as it regards the nature of the Church. One can only hope that he has the Catholic Faith on this dogma. If one can assume that he does, then perhaps there is hope he can lead some genuine re-orientation of Moscow towards Rome.

    Sister Lucia dos Santos, ora pro nobis!

  5. Anonymous1,
    I must respectfully point out that the Russian Orthodox Church is but one of many churches which comprise The Church. Also while I appreciate the point you’re attempting to make I find that poking one’s finger in the eyes of other Christians rarely produces converts. This is a Roman Catholic website and although I periodically comment here I also refrain from making those kinds of comments since they serve no purpose other than to annoy the webmaster and those who generally peruse the site. It is I think sufficient to note that we believe the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church subsists in its entirety in the Holy Orthodox Church, and that to the extent that some believe otherwise we must agree to disagree while praying for the unity that Our Lord and Savior desires.

    Anonymous 2,
    I generally agree with your analysis. However the question of the Immaculate Conception is really founded on the very different understanding of sin and grace that lies between our churches. Rome has embraced an extremely legalistic concept of Original Sin based on the writings of Blessed Augustine which never gained acceptance in the East. It also to some degree is a further reflection on our differing approaches to grace. Most of the basis of the Latin belief in the IC can be traced to +Augustine. While he is certainly commemorated as a saint, many of his writings are considered to be theologically flawed since they do not seem to conform to the consensus patris. To get at the question of the IC East and West need to first hash out sin and grace.

    The real sticking point as you noted is papal primacy. Herein lies a small germ of hope. While Orthodoxy has generally been pretty clear in stating what primacy is not, we have not (IMO) been particularly good at explaining what it is. Met +John Zizioulas of Pergamon (one of the foremost living theologians in Orthodoxy and a close friend of the former Card +Ratzinger) has also expressed this opinion and suggested that there is a need to reexamine the question of primacy in the age of the undivided church and how it functions today. Part of the lack of affirmative approach to primacy was almost certainly a knee jerk reaction to the ever increasing claims of power and authority emanating from the See of Rome. While this may be understandable it is not a legitimate basis for the minimalist approach many if not a majority of Orthodox take towards the legitimate prerogatives of primacy.

    However there is not even a remote chance of this translating into acceptance of the ultramontane decrees of Vatican Council I which are pretty much universally rejected as heresy by us. I think there is some room for exploration of some pragmatic elements to so called universal jurisdiction, such as conceding by decree of some future ecumenical council the standing of a court of final appeal in certain matters to Rome which would be consistent with the practice of the ancient church. However the decrees of Vatican I on universal jurisdiction as worded are a non starter. They effectively reduce the Church to an institution with one bishop and a bunch of mitered altar boys. And papal infallibility is quite simply a showstopper. This brings us to the question of how far is Rome willing to move?

    I think I know the answer and that’s why I have generally been very pessimistic about restoration of communion.

    Under the mercy,

  6. Anonymous9:15 AM

    Dear Ad Orientem,

    Yes, I agree with you. I did not mean to imply that the other Orthodox Churches were not part of the true Church. Moscow though is, statistically at least, by far the largest and important for the future.

    But my point remains that Roman Catholics must return to the Church Christ founded.

    Bishop John (Zizioulas) co-authored an interesting book building on the writings of Cardinal deLubac showing the essential oneness of the Church and Eucharist. The whole problem with Roman Catholicism is that the growth and exaggeration of the papal claims has caused a fundamental re-alignment from apostolic Christianity with, as you so correctly point out, a super bishop and 'mitred altar boys'. Hence the fullness of the local Church celebrating the Eucharist with the bishop is lost in Roman Catholicism needed papal jurisdiction to enable the 'licity' of that celebration. Vatican I and the claims of papal infallibility are demonstrably erroneous and need rejecting out of hand.

    We must pray that the Holy Spirit will lead the Roman Catholics back to the Church he sanctifies.

  7. You all will forgive me if I fail to believe the comments by the Roman emissary to Moscow. Too often comments such as those given here were followed up by less than encouraging comments by the Russian Church that left one with the impression that the Roman emissaries were either being a bit too diplomatic or were simply ignoring reality.

  8. Jacob,
    Normally I would agree with your observation. However the silence from Moscow has been deafening. There has been no denial issued. Further there are other small signs that relations seem to be warming. This fall the MP is hosting s symposium on +Benedict's encyclical letter Deus Caritas Est.

    Of course none of this addresses the serious theological and ecclessiological issues mentioned above. But still...


  9. Anonymous11:11 PM

    Anon 2 responding here ...

    While I find it encouraging that non-Catholics frequent this blog site frequently, the vacation season perhaps seems to have made this blog site more Eastern "Orthodox" than Roman Catholic. I feel compelled to explain the Roman Catholic position in my very limited layman's terms.

    To the non-Catholics who have commented, I respectfully submit that the jurisdictional power of See of Rome was in place before the construction of the city of Constantinople began in the 300s. Every oecumenical council of the first millenium required the consent of the Pope of Rome or one of his legates. The Eastern Patriarchs, even those direct successors of the Apostles in the East, such as Ignatius of Antioch, gave the Roman Pope that respect. He was the Supreme Pontiff. They were Patriarchs, not mitred altar boys. As Patriarchs, they had supreme priestly and jurisdictional authority in their own patriarchate. A pope could only override them in the strictest of cases, and could never suspend a patriarch a divinis, as could be done to a priest or a bishop. Even St Athanasius, PAtriarch of Alexandria, was forced to obey Pope Liberius, even though in his case very unjustly so, and a credit to his humility that he did not instigate anti-papal revolt. It was clear that he saw the Pope as having the authority to dictate to a Patriarch, although the Pope in that case was in the wrong.

    This should give you some insight into Papal authority in the early Church. Vatican I did nothing but take a summary look at every papal definition throughout the 1870 years of Church history, look at all the decisions in their context and define papal infallibility as a charism of the whole Church. The definition took into account the heretical Pope Honorius I, and in the post-schism Catholic Church, the famous case of the heretical preaching of Pope John XXII. The definition as such is perfectly in line with the biblical examples of St Peter decreeing that the Church would include Gentiles, as well as every other incident of Papal definition of faith and morals to come up with the defined dogma. Christ did leave Peter the keys to His Kingdom, in biblical and Old Testament exegesis, the same authority that Holy Patriarch Joseph, son of Jacob/Israel, received from the Egyptian Pharoah. And Christ Himself decreed that a house divided among itself would fall - whereby how do 7 equal patriarchs who disagree with one another remain united without the Petrine ministry of unity enjoyed by the pre-Constantinian and pre-Photian Church? Would this not be why Peter was the Apostolic leader to determine new direction in the Church, the first mentioned in every Apostolic list? Were the other Apostles thus mitred altar boys serving the one apostle? THis is kind of polemic and diatribe that I find to be a double standard in the Eastern "orthodox" circles. The Cardinals and Bishops and Latin Patriarchs have great spiritual power over their flocks, but the Pope has worldwide jurisdictional authority over even them, nothing mitred or boyish about their role.

    I do believe that an honest dialogue examining the Papal jurisdiction in the first 900 years of Church history will lead the "Orthodox" to accept the full and unaltered definitions of Vatican I on Papal Infallibility.

    On the Immaculate Conception, She is the Ark of the New Covenant, ALl Holy, who has crushed the serpent's head with her foot from the first moment of her existence, and as the Archangel Gabriel called Her "Ke-charito-mene", perfectly and full "charismed" or "graced", by God. Just as the pre-Christian Patriarchs and Prophets of the Old Testament were saved from hellfires by the "anticipated" grace of Christ's life, death and resurrection, so Mary's inheritance of the flesh of Adam was preserved from Adam's stain by that same "anticipated" grace. Furthermore, however, She herself mothered the Church by offering up Her Son's Sacrifice, willfully accepting God's will that She would have to suffer a sword piercing Her heart by accepting that Her Son would have to be the sacrifice to save the world from sin, much like Abraham offered up Isaac to God. Thus the "anticipated" grace She was saved by was a grace She participated actively and willingly in procuring for the World.

    Not very complicated unless we wish to muddle the concept.

    In any case, I believe the only dispute one can conjure on grace between Augustine and the Greek patriarchs would be based on linguistics for Augustine founded his teachings on nothing short of the Catholic dogmas defined infallibly before and in his era, and references the Eastern fathers very frequently in all his dissertations. To single Augustine out as being "outside the accepted fold" is frankly a ludicrous assertion.

    If my "orthodox" friends, can accept a friendly encouragement from me, would you consider praying the Rosary in your own liturgical languages, in Russian and Greek? I believe you would not have any issue at all with praying the Rosary if I am not mistaken. I recommend a daily 5 decades - offer it up for the re-union of the Patriarchs of Constantinople and Moscow and the Pope of Rome if you wish. Our Lady is the Mother who protects Her children from the dragon who seeths against them (Rev 12:17).

    In Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

  10. Anonymous10:24 PM

    On September 14, Bishop Michael Burbidge of Raleigh, NC will pay his second visit THIS YEAR to the diocesan Traditional Latin Mass community at Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church in Dunn, NC. Bishop Burbidge will attend a 7:00PM Missa Cantata, to be celebrated by the church's pastor, Rev. Paul Parkerson.

    Thank you for leading by example, Your Excellency!


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