Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A Meeting in the "Ecumenism of time"

I often find myself apologizing for my inconsistencies... This is yet again one such instance. It has been nearly a year since I have posted, but I still continue to pray and attempt to engage on these issues on a regular basis. So, this time I'm starting earlier in the summer in the hopes that I shall get into a habit of posting before the fall rolls around and I am more distracted by silly things like school and the like. Over the past year or so, I have had many encounters of dialogue, some where very positive, others not so much. I have tried writing at several different points, but for whatever reason I never ended up finishing =/ But now there has been a recent event that took place this past weekend that I simply cannot let pass without comment...

50 years ago, something truly earth shattering took place. The Roman Pontiff and the Ecumenical Patriarch met for the first time in nearly 500 years. This was a major turning point in the relationship between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Communion and paved the way for the beginnings of a long and arduous road of dialogue in Love and Truth. The meeting between Patriarch Athenagoras and Pope Paul VI took place on the Mount of Olives (the very place that Jesus prayed for the unity of His disciples John 17.21) and eventually lead many other significant steps towards respectful dialogue and the healing of the many wounds that have been inflicted over the past millennium of Christian fragmentation.

So, it's been 50 years, and the "Dialogue of Love" started by the two Hierarchs continues, all be it, in fits and starts much of the time. There are still a great many issues that the two Communions don't see eye to eye on and it will likely take a long time to figure things out. The commitment of both sides, however, seems to be stronger than ever at this time despite the multiplicity of opinions on what the true implications of the dialogue will be. Frankly, the Orthodox Church especially has been burned by dialogue and there are many who are understandably wary of any kind of engagement.

The latest development in the life of this dialogue took place this past weekend when Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew met once again in Jerusalem to commemorate the original meeting of January 1964. While the Pope's visit to the Holy Land has been marginally publicised, this commemorative meeting between Pope and Patriarch was the major impetus of both Leaders' visits. While the meeting took on a largely symbolic nature (and at times included other Christian leaders) it did produce a joint statement that expressed continued commitment to dialogue, as well as concern for the persecution of Christians around the world and the continued duty of the safeguarding of human dignity, the family, and the environment. Nothing especially ground breaking, to be sure, but hopefully a step in the right direction.

Since I assume that the large majority of my readers (if any) will likely be neither Catholic nor Orthodox, the question remains, what is this to you? Not a whole lot really... but if you are ecumenically minded as I am, it should excite you and encourage you to pray for unity both in spirit and in truth. There are still many voices that seek to deride any kind of dialogue between Churches (especially when it comes to the Catholic Church) and they do much damage to the body of Christ (I'm sure there will be more on that another week). But for now that's my two cents... =)

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