"The Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches should own up to their past misdeeds and work to restore communion, according to a Jesuit liturgical expert.
Robert F. Taft, S.J., a former professor of Eastern liturgy at the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome, said that the rift between the churches was sustained primarily by offensive actions—not theological differences.
"The main problem that we Catholics and Orthodox face in our ecumenical dialogue is not doctrine but behavior," Father Taft said. "The issue is not that Catholics and Orthodox do not know how to pray and believe and live Christianity in the right and true apostolic way. The problem is that we do not know how to act."
Father Taft delivered "Perceptions and Realities in Orthodox-Catholic Relations Today," on June 28 at the Rose Hill campus.
He pointed to Catholic "uniatism"—aggression against another church—as a major problem blocking fruitful dialogue between the religions. He added that although the Orthodox faith has been victimized, it also refuses to admit its own misdeeds.
"Western Christianity’s historic defects of imperialism, power and domination led to the crimes for which Pope John Paul II asked pardon in Rome on the first Sunday of Lent in 2000," Father Taft said. "Metropolitan Kallinikos of Piraeus—an official spokesman of the Orthodox Church of Greece—responded … by declaring there was nothing for which Orthodoxy had to ask pardon."
Father Taft advocated a system of "ecumenical scholarship and theology"—a new way to study Christian tradition that seeks to reconcile and unite, rather than to confute and dominate. To accomplish this, the Catholic and Orthodox churches must recognize one another as historic apostolic sister churches, he said.
"For Catholics, such an 'ecumenical theology' must mean an end to declarations on the nature of the priesthood that exalt the celibate clerical state of the Latin tradition in a way that is demeaning to the thousands of legitimately married eastern clergy," he said.
"It might also mean Catholic theologians realizing that Latin scholastic theology of the Eucharist is 'a' theology and not 'the' theology."
The point of this new ecumenical theology is not that Catholics and Orthodox never disagree. "What it does mean, is that at the official level, disagreements can be discussed truthfully and courteously, without invective, rudeness and slander," Father Taft said.
His was the first keynote at "Orthodox Constructions of the West," a three-day conference that examined how Orthodox authors created artificial categories of "East" and "West" and then used that distinction as a basis for self-definition.
The event was supported by the Patterson Triennial Conference Endowment for Orthodox/Catholic Relations as well as several units at Fordham University, including the Center for Medieval Studies and Orthodox Christian Studies Program."
This is an interesting call for reunification. But I think it misses the historical mark.
This Jesuit seems to be calling on the reconciliation of too recent a history. The question of reunifying the Church in it's global Universal form is not one of history, but philosophy. There is a fundamental question regarding the filioque. That is, in the Creed, the RC has unified the Son to the throne of the Father, making Jesus the absolute God. The OC holds that Jesus is the Incarnate Word of God descended to us.
This difference of basic credo has led to many fractures in the historical philosophy of the Roman Catholic Church. Paulism has become too much of an influence.."Jesus IS God Almighty"..(then what of the Father, I thought Jesus was our INTERCESSOR.) The RC does say 'intercessor', but also puts Jesus as original CREATOR with the Father.
This is more than a slight difference of philosophy in the end.
The Son's position in relation to the Father is NOT the issue in the filioque. The issue is the procession of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit does NOT proceed from the Father AND from the Son, for to do so it would relegate Him to a subservient position... a sort of "also ran" in terms of the Father and the Son. The Holy Spirit eternally proceeds from the Son and the Son is eternally begotten of the Father... period. This was the original creedal statement and the RC had no business altering it.
I agree with Issa that this Jesuit is looking at to much of recent history to think that reunification is possible. Just b/c the anathema's were lifted, what couple of hundred years ago, trading of relics (of which were stolen by papist), and "conferences" does not amount to the kind of unity that is of the interest of the Body of Christ.
The "vicar of christ" will have to come off of his high seat and realize the heresy that the roman church has created.
I agree. If the Holy Spirit comes from the Father and the Son, it still pushes Christ into a position of creator . No argument here really. I knew if I opened the Creed's altered form, there would be some discussion. But the Orthodox Creed we read in Church is thus; " And I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life who proceeds from the Father, Who, with the Father and Son together, is worshipped and glorified."
I remember an Icon I saw when first I came to the OC. It was Jesus, before creation. "...begotten of the Father, before all worlds;"
This Icon had the full-grown Jesus Christ sleeping on the background of the unmade universe and surrounded by 'aura' rings of different colors. I think the different rings represented the elements of creation, I'm not sure. But my priest said this represents the separation of duties of the Father and the Son; that the Father created and the Son descended, the Son returned to Heaven and the Father sent down the Holy Spirit.