Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Fr. Johannes Jacobse

10/20/2011 (3 years ago)

Acton Institute (www.acton.org/)

The European religious press is abuzz over recent developments in Orthodox - Catholic relations that indicate both Churches are moving closer together

Decades before the fall of Communism was even a conceptual possibility for most people, Pope John Paul II prophesied that the regeneration of Europe would come from Russia. At the time many people thought it was the misguided ramblings of a misguided man. It is looking like he knew more than his critics. We are fortunate to have these two leaders, Benedict and Kyrill, to help guide us through the coming difficulties.

Fr. Johannes L. Jacobse is an Orthodox priest in the Antiochian Archdiocese of North and South America

Fr. Johannes L. Jacobse is an Orthodox priest in the Antiochian Archdiocese of North and South America

Highlights

By Fr. Johannes Jacobse

Acton Institute (www.acton.org/)

10/20/2011 (3 years ago)

Published in Europe

Keywords: Orthodox, Catholic, Russian Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Pope Benedict XVI, Metropolitan Hilarion, Patriarch Kyrill, Fr. Johannes Jacobse


NAPLES, FL (Acton Institute) - The European religious press is abuzz over recent developments in Orthodox - Catholic relations that indicate both Churches are moving closer together. The diplomatic centerpiece of the activity would be a meeting of Pope Benedict and Patriarch Kyrill of the Russian Orthodox Church that was first proposed by Pope John Paul II but never realized.

Some look to a meeting in 2013 which would mark the 1,700th anniversary of the signing of the Edict of Milan when Constantine lifted the persecution of Christians. It would be the first visit between the Pope of Rome and Patriarch of Moscow in history.

A few short years ago a visit between Pope and Patriarch seemed impossible because of lingering problems between the two Churches as they reasserted territorial claims and began the revival of the faith in post-Soviet Russia, Ukraine and elsewhere. The relationship grew tense at times and while far from resolved, a spirit of deepening cooperation has nevertheless emerged. 

Both Benedict and Kyrill share the conviction that European culture must rediscover its Christian roots to turn back the secularism that threatens moral collapse.

Both men draw from a common moral history: Benedict witnessed the barbarism of Nazi Germany and Kyrill the decades long communist campaign to destroy all religious faith. It informs the central precept in their public ministry that all social policy be predicated on the recognition that every person has inherent dignity and rights bestowed by God, and that the philosophical materialism that grounds modern secularism will subsume the individual into either ideology or the state just as Nazism and Communism did. If Europe continues its secular drift, it is in danger of repeating the barbarism of the last century or of yielding to Islam.

The deepening relationship does not portend a union between Catholicism and Orthodoxy. Roman Catholics are more optimistic about unity because they are less aware of the historical animus that exists between Catholics and Orthodox. Nevertheless, while the increasing cooperation shows the gravity of the threat posed by secularism, it also indicates that the sensitive historical exigencies can be addressed in appropriate ways and times and will not derail the more pressing mission.

The cooperation has also caused the Churches to examine assumptions of their own that may prove beneficial in the long run. The meaning of papal supremacy tops the list.

On the Orthodox side the claims to a universal jurisdictional supremacy of the Patriarch of Rome have been rejected since (indeed, was a cause of) the Great Schism of 1054 (see here  and here ). That said, the Orthodox see the Pope of Rome as the rightful Patriarch of the Church of Rome and could afford him a primacy of honor in a joint council but not jurisdiction.

On the other side, the Orthodox do not have a Magisterium, a centralized Church structure that speaks for all the Orthodox in the world. This has led to some fractious internal wrangling throughout the centuries although doctrine and teaching has remained remarkably consistent.

It will come as no surprise for anyone to know that the Orthodox have difficulties with some of the claims made by the Catholic Church concerning the precise responsibilities and the nature of the authority associated with the Bishop of Rome. The Catholic Church has long recognized this as a basic difference between the Orthodox and Catholic worlds. The rise of militant secularism, however, and the cultural challenges this creates for Orthodox and Catholic Christians alike, have focused everyone's minds on how they can cooperate to address these issues of ethics and culture.

Protestants have a stake in the outcome as well particularly as attitudes have softened towards Rome due in large part to Pope John Paul II's exemplary leadership during the collapse of communism in the last century. Protestant ecclesiology has no real place for priest or pope which makes the nature of discussions between them and the Catholics or Orthodox entirely different. Nevertheless, as the soul denying ramifications of secularism become more evident, an increasing number look to the Catholic and Orthodox Churches for leadership.

The most visible ambassador for the Orthodox Church is Oxford-educated Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev of Volokomansk who runs the Department of External Church Relations of the Russian Orthodox Church. Observers report that a deep respect and even genuine fondness exists between Hilarion and Benedict which has contributed to the recent thaw.

Both of them note with alarm the increasing attacks on the Christian faith in Europe and on Christians themselves in other parts of the world, a development they term "Christophobia." Hilarion brought these points forward several years back when he first challenged the European Union for omitting any mention of the Christian roots of European civilization in the EU Constitution. That earned him considerable worldwide notice and he has become increasingly outspoken towards any attempts to silence the Christian testimony or dim the historical memory of Christendom.

From the Orthodox side it is clear that the leadership that deals with the concrete issues that affect the decline of the Christian West is emerging from Moscow. One reason is the sheer size of the renewed Russian Orthodox Church. The deeper reason however, is that the Russians have direct experience with the suffering and death that ensues when the light of the Christian faith is vanquished from culture.

Decades before the fall of Communism was even a conceptual possibility for most people, Pope John Paul II prophesied that the regeneration of Europe would come from Russia. At the time many people thought it was the misguided ramblings of a misguided man. It is looking like he knew more than his critics. We are fortunate to have these two leaders, Benedict and Kyrill, to help guide us through the coming difficulties.

-----

Fr. Johannes L. Jacobse is an Orthodox priest in the Antiochian Archdiocese of North and South America. He is president of the American Orthodox Institute and serves on the board of the Institute for Religion and Democracy. He writes frequently on social and cultural issues on his blog http://www.aoiusa.org/blog/ and elsewhere.

---

The Action Institute is committed to Integrating Judeo-Christian Truths with Free Market Principles. This article frist appeared as an Acton Commentary and is used with permission of the Author and the Institute



Comments


More Europe

Not London, New York or Paris: Luanda, Angola the most expensive city on Earth for... Watch

Image of According to Mercer's annual Cost of Living survey, places Luanda as by far the priciest city for foreign workers to live.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It's nowhere as well known as New York, Paris or London - but Luanda, Angola remains the most expensive city by far for expatriates to live in. Luanda ranked as the most expensive city to live in for the third time in a row. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - ... continue reading


Discovery of purported 'Nazi gold train' taken seriously in Poland Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The declarations from a German man and Polish man of discovery a long-lost Nazi train filled with gold and other treasures is being taken seriously by Poland's deputy culture minister. He says he is "convinced" the train exists. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic ... continue reading


Abandoned truck holds over 20 dead migrants in Austria Watch

Image of Truck found abandoned carrying the bodies of more than 20 dead migrants

By Kenya Sinclair (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A police manhunt takes place after the discovery of an abandoned truck containing the bodies of migrants attempting to cross Austria's border. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Austrian police report up to 50 migrants suffocated in the back of a refrigerated food ... continue reading


Vatican involvement in Ashley Madison Web site leak disproven Watch

Image of At first glance, the claim seems questionable - why would top Church officials sworn to celibacy sign up for a Web site for married people, and no less one that promotes adultery?

By CNA/EWTN News

Early this week, a leak of personal data from millions of users of Ashley Madison, a Web site designed to arrange extramarital affairs, wreaked havoc on and off the internet. Vatican City (CNA/EWTN News) - At least two suicides have been reported in conjunction ... continue reading


Four-star General reveals horrendous WWII scenes in never-before-seen photographs (PHOTOS) Watch

Image of

By Hannah Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Four-star General Charles Day Palmer detailed the fights in Western Front during World War II by taking snapshots of the bombed-out cities and lifeless bodies. He kept personal photos of the battlefields in Germany and France and is now releasing them to the public for ... continue reading


Brainwashed teenage girl taken away from radical jihadi parents Watch

Image of Judge Anthony Hayden, pictured, today compared the radicalization of the 16-year-old girl, known as B as similar to that as child sex abuse.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A 16-year-old girl in East London has been removed from her home after a judge ruled that she was being radicalized by her parents with Islamic State propaganda. The straight-A student, known only as "B" was stopped last year when she tried to fly to Syria to ... continue reading


HEROISM - AND EXTREME COWARDICE: American service members disarm terrorist aboard train - as train's staff lock themselves in office, denying help Watch

Image of U.S. serviceman Spencer Stone answering reporters' questions at the U.S. embassy in Paris this past weekend.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It was an example of high heroism - undercut with a despicable act of cowardice and selfishness. As an Islamic militant from Morocco threatened life and limb a high-speed train bound for Paris with a Kalashnikov, American service members with a British man were ... continue reading


Afghan man rips up Koran sparking threatening riot in overcrowded German refugee camp Watch

Image of A riot sparked in a refugee camp in Germany, leaving 15 civilians injured.

By Linky C. (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A riot broke in an overcrowded German refugee camp shelter after an Afghan man damaged the Koran and threw pages of it in the toilet. MUNTINLUPA CITY, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - One resident from an overcrowded German refugee camp tore up a Koran and dumped pages ... continue reading


Legendary lost Nazi train loaded with gold treasure found by two men Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A train commandeered by the Nazis - reportedly loaded with gold, gems and valuable art vanished into a system of secret tunnels in the Polish countryside as the Germans fled advancing Soviet forces at the end of World War II. That story has gone down in Polish ... continue reading


Stalking Prince George: William and Kate condemn paparazzi photographers inappropriately hanging around play area Watch

Image of

By Hannah Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

After finding paparazzi photographers hiding near the play area of the two-year-old prince, Kensington Palace has released a stern letter from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge condemning the inappropriate action harming the privacy of their toddler. William and Kate ... continue reading


All Europe News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, First Thessalonians 4:13-18
13 We want you to be quite certain, brothers, about ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 96:1, 3, 4-5, 11-12, 13
1 Sing a new song to Yahweh! Sing to Yahweh, all the ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 4:16-30
16 He came to Nazara, where he had been brought up, ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for August 31st, 2015 Image

St. Raymond Nonnatus
August 31: Raymond was born at Portella, Catalonia, Spain. He was delivered ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter