Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

11/13/2012 (3 years ago)

Catholic Online (

There is a growing recognition that there is more that joins theologically faithful Catholics and theologically faithful Orthodox than that which separates us

The two lungs of Christ's Church must breathe together again in the Third millennium as they did in the First Millennium. That breath is the breath of the Holy Spirit. That breath will fuel a new missionary age of the Church.

Patriarch Kirill and Pope Benedict XVI

Patriarch Kirill and Pope Benedict XVI


By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (

11/13/2012 (3 years ago)

Published in Europe

Keywords: Patriarch Kirill, Pope Benedict XVI, St. Josaphat, Orhtodox, Catholic, ecumenism, unity, full communion, Fr Johannes L. Jacobse, church unity, American Orthodox Institute, Orthodoxy Today, Byzantine, Eastern catholic, Antiochian orthodox, Orthodox, Russian

CHESAPEAKE, VA. (Catholic Online) - On November 12, the Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of St Josaphat, an Eastern Catholic Bishop (1580 - 1623) who in life - and in death - poured himself out in imitation of Jesus Christ so that the Church would once again be one.

Over the years, Josaphat has been referred to as the "thief of souls". Sadly, his heroic efforts have been misunderstood and misused by some to further the very division between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches which he gave his life to heal.

I propose that heroic man was - in fact -  plundering hell itself! The full communion of the One Church, with all of its rich and legitimate diversity within theological orthodoxy(right doctrine)  and orthopraxy (right practice) will unleash the most powerful spiritual renewal in recent Church history.

I must lay all my cards on the table. I long for the full communion of the Orthodox and Catholic Churches.  I pray daily for the full communion of the Orthodox and Catholic Churches. I do so because I believe it is the will of God that "All May be One" (John 17: 21). 

I believe that the healing of the division between the two sister churches will unleash a profound renewal of the entire Church - at the dawn of what I believe is a new missionary age. I also believe that the gifts found in the whole Church will enrich both East and West, assisting us in the mission which we must face together in our One Lord.

I long for this full communion because I am convinced that, as the West implodes under the fierce ravages of what Pope Benedict XVI properly called a "Dictatorship of Relativism", it is only the true humanism found in the fullness of truth as revealed in Jesus Christ and His Body, the Church, which can save the West - as well as the East - from rushing over a cliff to its own demise.

I long for this full communion because, as a "revert", one who returned to my Catholic faith as a young man, I walked the way home by way of the early Church Fathers. Had I not had been baptized a Catholic of the Latin Rite; I might have become an Eastern Christian.

As the decades of my life have unfolded in theological studies and ordination to the Order of Deacon, my vision and theological viewpoint are still profoundly Eastern. So too is my worship. I have long prayed with icons and love the Divine Liturgy. However, I cherish the unity that comes with the Chair of Peter.

Let me be clear, I am deeply and happily ensconced in the Roman Catholic Church. I am glad that I have authorization to serve the Divine Liturgy of the Eastern Church. For a number of years I had the privilege of regularly serving the Divine Liturgy and I miss it. I love the Liturgy, East and West, however I find the depth of the Mystery is beautiful captured in the Liturgy of the East.

There is a Latin maxim that addresses the centrality of worship in the life, identity and mission of the whole Church; "Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi, Lex Vivendi". It means that the law of prayer or worship is the law of belief and the law of life. Or, even more popularly rendered, as we worship, so will we believe and live! 

Worship is not an "add on" for a Catholic or an Orthodox Christian. It is the foundation of Catholic and Orthodox identity; expressing our highest purpose. Worship reveals how we view ourselves in relationship to God, one another and the world into which we are sent to carry forward the redemptive mission of Jesus Christ.

How the Church worships is a prophetic witness to the truth of what she professes. Good worship becomes a dynamic means of drawing the entire human community into the fullness of life in Jesus Christ, lived out in the communion of the Church. It attracts - through beauty to Beauty. Worship informs and transforms both the person and the community which participates in it. There is reciprocity between worship and life.

Finally, I long for the coming full communion of East and West because my oldest son is an Orthodox Christian. He, his wife and their children are all practicing Orthodox Christians. I must admit that the more I visit them these days the more I appreciate the beauty of the interweaving of faith and life which comes with Eastern Christianity and its practices.

Yet, I experience something else during these visits. As I participate in his family life, the more painful our separation at the Altar also becomes. I believe it gives me a glimpse, perhaps a participation, in the very heart of the Lord who longs for our unity and weeps over our division as He wept over Jerusalem of old.

So, yes, I watch for every sign that the two lungs of the One Church are beginning to fill with the one breath of Divine Life, the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit alone can animate the One New Man, Jesus Christ, to heal the division which has gone on for too long in His Body.

All Nations need the witness of the Church in this age which has lost its moral compass. In the ancient words of an anonymous Christian to a pagan inquirer to the faith named Diognetus,  "the Christian is to the world what the soul is to the body." That the Nations of the this age have lost their soul is obvious. The only real question to be asked is whether Christians will rise to the invitation to resuscitate it with the unified witness of the "new world" of the Church.

Yes, I watch all of this with the eyes of living faith. Some say I see these developments with what they would call "Rose Colored glasses". If I do see through the color of rose, it is because the color symbolizes the hope which comes from faith in the Resurrection of Christ Jesus. It is also because of my bedrock conviction concerning the Lord's plan for His One Church. (John 17:21) 

On the Feast of Josaphat, I propose that this Saint of the Latin Church, rather than continuing to be a cause for our division, can come to inspire our efforts to hasten the inevitable and absolutely essential full communion between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches which awaits us in the Third millennium of Christianity. After all, that is what Josaphat gave his life for. 

There is a growing recognition that there is more that joins theologically faithful Catholics and theologically faithful Orthodox than that which separates us. The cultural decline of our age certainly compels our collaboration in Christ. It is leading us to a growing mutual respect which can help to pave the way toward some form of restored communion.

This is an essential  task which must be taken up by both Western and Eastern Christians without triumphalism of any kind. In the history of our division there is plenty of room for repentance all around. The real question is whether time will be become a tutor or remain a tyrant. Good theologians and truly holy Church leaders can hasten our full communion. It is time.   

We welcomed the selection of Patriarch Kirill as the 16th Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia in 2009. It was the first election of a Patriarch since the fall of the atheist Communist regime which governed the former Soviet Union for so many years. We, along with millions the world over, hoped it was a sign of the revitalization of the ancient faith in this critical time in history.

Patriarch Kirill sees the Orthodox and Catholic Churches as sister churches. That is a welcome sign of the work of the Holy Spirit. Pope Benedict XVI also sees us as sister churches. That is because we are sister churches - and it is time for an expression of that reality.

We published an insightful analysis written for Catholic Online shortly after the Patriarchs enthronement entitled Patriarch Kirill & Pope Benedict: A Tale of Two Leaders for a new Missionary Age The author, Orthodox priest Fr Johannes L. Jacobse, the editor of Orthodoxy Today  and President of the American Orthodox Institute is one of a growing number of Orthodox clerics and scholars who are doing the work which must be done. 

In that article he opined, "Patriarch Kirill is a theological conservative in the mold of Pope Benedict. Both see religion as the wellspring of culture. Both understand that Europe cannot escape a final capitulation to tyranny if it does not rediscover its Christian roots."

Upon Kirills's enthronement polls in Russia indicated that only 5 percent of Russians were observant in the practice of their Orthodox Christian faith. Less than 30 percent expressed their commitment to following the moral teaching of the Church. 

The Patriarch calls for exposing this moral disintegration and remedying its effects on Russian culture through a resurgence of the faith. This urgent call for authentic renewal within the Church and his conviction concerning its call to influence culture is part of what he shares with his brother, Pope Benedict XVI.

Patriarch Kirill, and other Orthodox Church leaders and members, face opposition within the Orthodox Church for dialogue leading toward communion with the Catholic Church. So too, those within the Catholic Church who seek full communion face opposition and are often misunderstood. Fortunately, the effort is being led by Pope Benedict XVI.

Pope Benedict XVI and Patriarch Kirill show no sign of retreat in their efforts aimed at stemming the growing spread of the culture of death and the sordid fruit of moral relativism. Before he was elevated to the Patriarchate, Kirill was responsible for dialogue with the Holy See. Before he was elevated to the Chair of Peter, Benedict laid a theological ground in his rich ecclesiological and liturgical theological writings which can pave the way toward a form of restored communion.

Pope Benedict XVI sent an especially meaningful gift to the new Patriarch when he was enthroned, a chalice with which the Patriarch now consecrates the blood of Christ at the Divine Liturgy. He expressed his hope in these words, "It is my earnest hope that we will continue to cooperate in finding ways to foster and strengthen communion in the body of Christ in fidelity to our savior's prayer that all may be one so that the world may believe".

Patriarch Kirill has a genuine respect for the Catholic Church. He sees the Orthodox and Catholic Churches as sister churches. Pope Benedict XVI has a genuine respect for the Orthodox Church and shares this conviction. He sees the Orthodox and Catholic Churches as sister churches.This is a welcome sign of the work of the Holy Spirit.

Orthodox and Catholic Christians face the effects of moral relativism, secularism and the growing hostility toward Christianity which characterizes this age. What will hasten the return of Christian influence in Russia and in the United States? What will stem the tide of the Third Millennial descent into godless ideologies of every sort and turn the world toward Jesus Christ and His Church? Some form of full communion between Eastern and Western Christianity!

The two lungs of Christ's Church must breathe together again in the Third millennium as they did in the First Millennium. That breath is the breath of the Holy Spirit. That breath will fuel a new missionary age of the Church.


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'

Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for October 2015
That human trafficking, the modern form of slavery, may be eradicated.
Evangelization: That with a missionary spirit the Christian communities of Asia may announce the Gospel to those who are still awaiting it.


More Europe

Pope Francis orders sweeping audit of the Vatican Watch

Image of Pope Francis continues to clean up the Vatican, making the Church more efficient and better able to minister to the needs of the poor and vulnerable.

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Pope Francis continues to clean up the Vatican, ordering a survey of all the city-state's finances. The unprecedented audit will reveal even more corruption and impose better controls on spending, while making more money available for charitable projects. LOS ANGELES, ... continue reading

The unexpected thing one Syrian refugee did for Germany that will melt your heart Watch

Image of Syrian refugee Alex Assali fed the homeless outside Berlin's Alexanderplatz station in an effort to give back to the city that has helped him, and other refugees, so much (Imgur).


Amid fears of ISIS infiltration and Muslim takeovers, one Syrian refugee took a stand against prejudiced tensions and thanked the city of Berlin on behalf of all refugees. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Each Saturday, Alex Assali cooks and distributes food to ... continue reading

Concentration camps and Nazi language: Berlin guards caught on tape speaking unbelievably cruel about refugees Watch

Image of Berlin guards at the office for refugees have reportedly been recorded using Nazi language and suggesting refugees be sent to concentration camps (Markus Heine/ NurPhoto).


Videos have been released showing Berlin guards around the office for refugees using "Nazi language" and suggesting the refugees be sent to concentration camps. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Security guards working for private contractor Gegenbauer Security ... continue reading

SHOCK SHOW: Sacrilegious art exhibit in Spain uses 240 stolen consecrated hosts Watch

Image of Photos of the theft of the Hosts and their placement on the ground are shown in a public art gallery in Pamplona.

By Catholic News Agency

Critics of Pamplona's city council say it deliberately attacked Catholics and broke Spanish law by using city property to display a sacrilegious art exhibit with more than 240 stolen consecrated Hosts. Madrid, Spain (CNA) - The Spanish artist Abel Azcona stole ... continue reading

French Hostage Situation: Two armed suspects engage in shootout with French police Watch

Image of French police engaged in a shootout with two suspects armed with Kalashnikovs (Not pictured).


Two suspects armed with Kalashnikov rifles engaged in a shootout with French police in Toubaix, France. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The suspects are believed to have taken a bank director and his family hostage, but very little is currently known.[media ... continue reading

Vatican corruption: Journalists stand trial Watch

Image of Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi must stand trial at the Vatican for publishing confidential documents (Reuters).


Following the publication of books claiming the Holy See was mismanaged and spoiled through corruption, five people went on trial at the Vatican on Tuesday. Two of the five on trial were Italian Journalists Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi, neither of whom ... continue reading

Undercover reporter reveals secret FEMALE ISIS organization in Britain Watch

Image of One veiled ISIS sympathizer was filmed during the undercover investigation (Channel 4).


In a new British documentary titled The British Women Supporters Unveiled, one young female reporter goes undercover to infiltrate a secret Muslim organization designed to garner sympathy for the Islamic State. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The reporter, who uses ... continue reading

OUTRAGEOUS: Find out why The Lord's Prayer was BANNED from Just Pray movie theater ad Watch

Image of


An advertisement featuring the Lord's Prayer has been banned from movie theaters in England. According to the Church of England, the policy that prevents the prayer advertisement did not exist when they began production on the commercial. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic ... continue reading

Swiss farmer finds 4,000 extremely rare Roman coins in his orchard Watch

Image of The cache of coins is estimated to be more than 1,700 years old.


A Swiss farmer was tilling his orchard in Ueken, in the northern canton of Aargau, Switzerland, when he spotted something shiny on the ground. He had inadvertently stumbled across a treasure trove of Roman-era coins - 4,166 in all, some dating as back as 274 ... continue reading

Five people indicted by Vatican in 'Vati-leaks' scandal Watch

Image of Journalists Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi (pictured), had both recently published books, citing specific Vatican documents detailing waste, mismanagement, and greed.


A judge, rendering a decision in a scandal involving Vatican finances has indicted five people, which include two journalists and a Vatican monsignor. Information linking the Vatican to financial malfeasance, as well as related graft and corruption called ... continue reading

All Europe News


Newsletter Sign Up icon

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

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

  • Untrained AirAsia pilots takes blame for 162 passenger deaths ...
  • Daily Readings for Wednesday, December 02, 2015
  • Pope Francis on condoms, fundamentalism and more
  • You won't believe what happened to this pair of infant twins!
  • St. Bibiana: Saint of the Day for Wednesday, December 02, 2015
  • Parents' Prayer For Their Children HD Video
  • Prayer For Faith HD Video

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Isaiah 11:1-10
1 A shoot will spring from the stock of Jesse, a new shoot will grow from ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 72:1, 7-8, 12-13, 17
1 [Of Solomon] God, endow the king with your own fair judgement, the son ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 10:21-24
21 Just at this time, filled with joy by the Holy Spirit, he said, 'I ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for December 1st, 2015 Image

St. Eligius
December 1: Eligius (also known as Eloi) was born around 590 ... Read More