Follow usTwitterFacebook


11 Dec 2014 Q&A Comments (3)

May deacons anoint the sick?

Full Question In a recent friendly debate, I took the position that deacons cannot administer the sacrament of anointing of the sick. I eventually quoted c…

Read more

15 Oct 2015 News USA Comments (1)

Vatican opens homeless shelter near St Peter’s Square

Housed in a Jesuit-owned building, the Gift of Mercy shelter was created by funds from the papal almoner The Vatican opened the Gift of Mercy, a shelter for …

Read more

10 May 2016 Articles Comments (4)

Three Steps to Keeping Your Kids Catholic

Do you know the early warning signs of a young Catholic losing his faith? I do. I’ve seen them countless times in many young people over my nearly thirty-year c…

Read more

28 Jun 2016 Articles Comments (2)

Only God Makes Degrees of Goodness Intelligible

It never ceases to amaze me how so many things in life can be a point of departure for reasoning to God’s existence. For example, I look at a cup suspended abov…

Read more

29 Sep 2015 News USA No comments

Philadelphia mayor says media scared people from seeing pope

News reports about extensive security in place for Pope Francis’ visit may have deterred people from attending, the mayor said Monday, while calling the weekend…

Read more

15 Aug 2016 Q&A No comments

Is faith necessary for adults to be baptized?

Full Question Is faith necessary for adults to be baptized? Answer Adults must have faith for baptism, but it need not be a fully developed faith. …

Read more

01 Sep 2015 News Vatican No comments

Papal condolences for hurricane victims

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, has sent a telegram of condolence in the name of the Holy Father to the bishop of Roseau, Dominica, t…

Read more

20 Sep 2014 Articles Comments (15)

The Antichrist

The claim that the pope is the Antichrist has been part of anti-Catholic rhetoric since the Reformation, when it was needed to justify the Protestant Reformers’…

Read more

01 Aug 2015 Q&A Comments (2)

Call No Man "Father"?

Many Protestants claim that when Catholics address priests as "father," they are engaging in an unbiblical practice that Jesus forbade: "Call no man your father…

Read more
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Patriarch to Orthodox leaders: do not abandon ‘sacred mission’ of unity

Patriarch Bartholomew urges fellow leaders to attend Pan-Orthodox Council

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople has called on his brother patriarchs and primates of the Orthodox churches to honour their commitments and join him for the Great and Holy Council of the Orthodox Church.

Four of the churches – the Antiochian, Bulgarian, Georgian and Russian Orthodox – announced they would not attend the gathering scheduled for June 19-26 on the Greek island of Crete.

The patriarchs and primates of the 14 autocephalous or self-governing Orthodox churches met in Switzerland in January and voted unanimously to convene the Council, which would be the first Pan-Orthodox Council in more than 1,000 years. The 14 primates also adopted the procedures to be followed and the draft texts to be voted upon.

But in the days leading to the meeting’s scheduled opening, the synods of some of the churches objected to parts of the proposed texts, the procedures or both.

Arriving in Crete on Wednesday, Patriarch Bartholomew – the “first among equals” of the Orthodox primates – said participating in the Council was a “sacred mission.”

Church leaders who decide not to attend, he said, bear responsibility for reneging on their commitment to realising “this vision held over many years, which all our churches cherish, to declare and proclaim the unity of our Orthodox Church and to examine and reach a common resolution of the problems that are of concern to the Orthodox world.”

Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and Bishop Brian Farrell, council secretary, were to attend the meeting as observers at the invitation of Patriarch Bartholomew.

Just a few hours after the patriarch arrived in Crete, Orthodox theologians – including the ambassadors of Georgia and Romania to the Holy See – held a conference in Rome to discuss the content of the six documents proposed for the council and, more broadly, to speak about the importance of the Council for demonstrating Orthodox unity.

Tamara Grdzelidze, the Georgian ambassador and former staff member of the World Council of Churches, told conference participants that the Orthodox Church describes itself as “divine and human.” The controversy surrounding the Pan-Orthodox Council, she said, demonstrates “the human part needs a lot of work.”

While the intra-Orthodox differences are garnering headlines, she said, “the Orthodox churches, when they decided to convene this Council after 1,200 years, were not concerned about any dogmatic question – they do not have a problem of dogmatic unity or spiritual unity – but how to apply this unity in today’s world. That is the problem.”

The documents that were to be considered at the Council are largely pastoral, including regulations regarding marriage and fasting and organising Church life in countries outside the traditional Orthodox territories. One document is focused on Orthodox relations with other Christians and another tries to explain the mission of Orthodoxy in modern societies.

The discussions, Grdzelidze said, “should have renewed the synodality of the church”, which is its ability to bring people with different points of view and experiences together under the guidance of the Holy Spirit to give a united response to challenges.

“It is one thing to say that we are spiritually together and we are one,” she said. “But if we don’t practise it to make decisions, then it is very difficult to prove it to the world.”

Problems, she said, can be “discussed, addressed and discerned only in a spirit of conciliarity where brotherly love and prayer prevail.”

Bogdan Tataru-Cazaban, Romanian ambassador to the Vatican and former professor on the Orthodox theological faculty at the University of Bucharest, told conference participants “it’s a miracle” that the Orthodox churches have maintained their spiritual and dogmatic unity given historical situations – from war to Communist oppression – that prevented leaders of all the autocephalous churches from meeting for centuries.

In organising the Pan-Orthodox Council, he said, the Orthodox churches clearly are still battling the “phantoms” of that troubled history.

The struggles should not surprise or scandalise people, the ambassador said. “Throughout history, unity always has been a work in progress.”


Leave a Reply

  1. most read post
  2. Most Commented
  3. Choose Categories