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Primacy of the Pope agreed: CEN 11.30.07 p 7. November 30, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Ecclesiology, Orthodox, Roman Catholic Church.

The Orthodox Churches have acceded, in principal, to the primacy of the Pope.

On Nov 15 the Vatican released “Ecclesiological and Canonical Consequences of the Sacramental Nature of the Church: Ecclesial Communion, Conciliarity and Authority”: the communiqué of the Oct 8-14 meeting of Roman Catholic and Orthodox leaders led by Cardinal Walter Kasper and Metropolitan John of Pergamum.

The document was a “first step” Cardinal Kasper, the president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity leading toward the reunion of the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches, divided since the great schism of 1054.

Whether a second step is taken, however, depends upon the Russian Orthodox Church.  The Moscow Patriarchate walked out of the talks on the second day, while the vexing issue of the Pope’s powers, prerogatives and jurisdiction has yet to be discussed.

“For the first time the Orthodox Churches have said yes, this universal level of the Church exists and also at the universal level there is conciliarity, synodality and authority; this means that there is also a primate; according to the practice of the ancient Church, the first bishop is the Bishop of Rome,” Cardinal Kasper told Vatican Radio.

However “we did not talk of the privileges of the Bishop of Rome, we merely indicated the praxis for future debate. This document is a modest first step and as such it gives rise to hope, but we must not exaggerate its importance,” he said.

Pope Benedict XVI also welcomed the progress towards reunion, telling a gathering of cardinals on Nov 23 that “ecumenism is not an option but a sacred duty. It is the mandate of Our Lord.”

In his Vatican Radio interview, Cardinal Kasper glossed over the split within the Orthodox delegation, saying it was “a political issue between Constantinople and Moscow, not a theological one.”

In 1996 the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I recognized the Estonian church as an autocephalic branch of the Orthodox community. Moscow objected saying the former Soviet Republic was already served by the Russian Orthodox Church.  Moscow walked out of the Ravenna talks in protest to the presence of an Estonian delegation, arguing that the Baltic church’s participation was a fait accompli that resolved the territorial dispute in favor of Estonia.

Cardinal Kasper offered to “facilitate” a resolution to the impasse, but noted, “we do not want to dialogue without the Russians and we wish to work to achieve this aim.”

Moscow’s man in Ravenna said the final communiqué was rife with “doubtful conclusions” and “assertions not born out by historical truth.”  Bishop Hilarion of Vienna told the Interfax news agency a commission would study the document and present its findings to the church’s Holy Synod.

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