OCP News Service – 7/6/19
After his trip to Romania, Roman Papa Francis urged ‘urgent’ intercommunion with Eastern Orthodox Churches despite the fact that theological issues between both families of Churches remain unresolved. One of the biggest strength of the Orthodox Church is her theology. If Orthodox Churches compromise on theology and dogmatic teachings, in order to establish ‘communion’ with the Roman Church, then it will be nothing but a fragile and fake union.
Pope Francis is smart enough to invite Orthodox Churches for an ‘urgent’ Eucharistic unity by skipping the most difficult aspect, which is none other than the ongoing theological dialogues. The Vatican super brains have understood that the so-called diplomatic ecumenism is reaching nowhere. Hence, the easiest way to ‘pamper’ Orthodox Churches is through brotherhood and by using the charisma of Papa Francis. It is also easy to please some of the Orthodox Churches which are already in schism with their sister Churches.
The space provided by ‘schism’ is an easy playground and fertile pasture for the Papist to implement its ‘agenda of unity’. Some Orthodox ecumenist believes that there exists a fewer difference between Rome and Eastern Churches and hence unity should be given high priority. Moreover, the ongoing Christian persecution, war, and other religious problems are used as a ‘tool of unity’ by the Vatican Ecumenist for close communion and cooperation with Orthodox and Assyrian Churches. In 2016, at the height of Christian persecution in the Middle East, the Vatican made a failed attempt (through the Chaldean Catholic Rite) to bring the Assyrian Church under the Papal communion. The Assyrian Church leadership outrightly rejected any such union.
Pope Francis keeps on visiting the entire East European Orthodox hubs. Even though he failed in Georgia and Bulgaria to make an impression (largely because of the resistance from the Church leadership). He had a successful trip to Armenia and Romania.
It seems that the next Papal destinations will be Russia and Serbia. Russian President Putin will meet the Pope for the second time in July 2019 and it is speculated that one of the key agendas of the meeting will be none other than to discuss the ‘on-going preparations’ of the Papal entry to the Russian soil. It also seems that the Russians have already trained themselves to accept the Papal visit. However, Papacy faces vehement opposition in Serbia. It will be catastrophic for Orthodox Churches to allow Papal visits to Russia or to Serbia. There are far more urgent things that need high attention within the Orthodox communion. While Orthodox unity itself is in question, it will be suicidal to allow Pope to step his foot in Russia or Serbia. Patriarch Kiril and Patriarch Irinej is positive with the Roman Popes visit to Moscow and Belgrade.
In the light of recent uprising of Uniatism in Ukraine and the Papal call for Eucharist unity, there is something fishy on the go. If Orthodox Churches do not rise up to the occasion and take constructive steps to heal schisms and strengthen Pan-Orthodox unity, then they might end up clapping hands for the Roman ecumenism. How can Orthodox Churchs prioritize ecumenism with the Latins when their own family stands divided.
Unity between local Orthodox Churches and unity between Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox families must be given prime importance. Sadly, these are not the agenda of any of the EO or OO Churches. Just empty words and promises continue to echo.
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PAGE, O. (2019). The Quest for Orthodox–Assyrian Alliance. [online] News | Orthodoxy Cognate PAGE. Available at: http://theorthodoxchurch.info/blog/news/the-quest-for-orthodox-assyrian-alliance/ [Accessed 7 Jun. 2019].
National Catholic Reporter. (2019). ‘Let’s not wait for the theologians,’ says Pope Francis about sharing the Eucharist. [online] Available at: https://www.ncronline.org/news/vatican/signs-times/lets-not-wait-theologians-says-pope-francis-about-sharing-eucharist? [Accessed 7 Jun. 2019].
PAGE, O. (2019). The ‘Night’ Before the Dialogue with the Vatican. [online] News | Orthodoxy Cognate PAGE. Available at: http://theorthodoxchurch.info/blog/news/the-night-before-the-dialogue-with-the-vatican/ [Accessed 7 Jun. 2019].
OCP News Service