Monday, May 26, 2014

What Orthodox-Catholic Ecumenical Efforts Are Not (For the Orthodox, at least)

Historical Grievances
Yes, there are painful memories of the past, for which we must forgive one another (and ongoing hurts to this day, the Orthodox will tell you), BUT the issues separating us do not arise from some alleged stubborn lack of forgiveness; they are theological.  The theological issues are major and extensive.  Many Catholics find this difficult to believe or understand.  We often can't even agree on what separates us.  

Everybody Singing Kumbaya 
Catholic and Orthodox doctrines really are incompatible.  We cannot ignore our differences and have anything but a sham unity.  We can collaborate in certain charitable endeavors, but that alone will not bring about unity.  Neither will simply deciding to share the Eucharist and saving the theological wrangling for "later".  

Word Games
It's not as if we were in search of some sort of wording of each issue, agreeable to both sides, that would synthesize or at least accommodate the differences.  As the teachings are incompatible, the wrong ones have to be renounced, not accommodated, once we agree on what those are. 

"Deeper Truth"
Orthodoxy (Catholicism, too?) claims to have the fullness of Truth already, so there is no sort of over-arching or "umbrella truth" waiting to be discovered, transcending the Truth already revealed, thereby mooting our differences.

Everybody Becoming More Devout
We don't agree on who God is or what God is like.  Or how to draw near to Him.  Hence, if Catholics do s better job of practicing their forms of piety, to draw nearer to Who they believe God is and the Orthodox do the same, our disunity will be accentuated, not healed.

Catholics are not authorized to do this, unless the Pope does.  
The Orthodox are not willing to do this, even if their Patriarchs do.  

I have seen all of these approaches tried or proposed.  I wonder whether we can even agree what ecumenical dialogue itself is.  


off2 said...

Well put. Glad to see you posting again. You were missed. Bill

GretchenJoanna said...

Thank you for telling it like it is! I read the statement yesterday and was relieved and not surprised to see that nothing happened. Whew! This about Orthodoxy and compromise is comforting: "The Orthodox are not willing to do this, even if their Patriarchs do."