Friday, November 16, 2007

from the Episcopal Cafe: End of Schism in Sight?

I ran across this article on the Episcopal Cafe blog that outlines a possible end of the schism between the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches ... I'm sure more will be said about this news, but to me it seems to be a sign of hope that amidst our many differences we can find a way to live in Unity, while acknowledging that there will not be uniformity.


End of schism in sight

Almost a thousand years ago, one of the longest lasting schisms in Christianity happened between the Eastern and Western branches of the Church. According to a report in the Times, representatives of the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches have signed a document that provides a roadmap to ending the split. The Pope would be acknowledged as the Universal Pontiff of the Church, but would give up his claim of Infallibility.

From the article:

The 46-paragraph “Ravenna Document”, written by a special commission of Catholic and Orthodox officials, envisages a reunified church in which the Pope could be the most senior patriarch among the various Orthodox churches.

Just as Pope John Paul II was driven by the desire to bring down Communism, so Pope Benedict XVI hopes passionately to see the restoration of a unified Church. Although he is understood to favour closer relations with traditional Anglicans, the Anglican Communion is unlikely to be party to the discussions because of its ordination of women and other liberal practices.

Unification with the Orthodox churches could ultimately limit the authority of the Pope, lessening the absolute power that he currently enjoys within Catholicism. In contrast, a deal would greatly strengthen the Patriarch of Constantinople in his dealings with the Muslim world and the other Orthodox churches.

Pope Benedict has called a meeting of cardinals from all over the world in Rome on November 23, when the document will be the main topic of discussion. The Ravenna “road map” concedes that “elements of the true Church are present outside the Catholic communion”.

...If the proposals move forward, the Pope would be acknowledged as the universal Primate, as he was before the schism. Although it is not stated outright, he would be expected by the Orthodox churches to relinquish the doctrine of infallibility. The proposals could also allow married priests in the Catholic Church, as already happens in the Orthodox.

Read the rest here.

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