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A Definition


An important document, fair answer to unitarian beliefs and useful tool at the efforts of the Church to be blessed with the old unity (emphases added):

"The Truth Lies in the Facts"
Interview with the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople
30 Days
No. 9 (1994) 14-19. Excerpts follow:

John Paul II has in recent times addressed some important statements to Orthodox brethren and in particular to you. In the homily on the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, last June 29, he begged the Lord to grant that the memory of the two holy Apostles might help us make every effort "so that we do not face the challenge of the third millennium in divided fashion." In what way does the Orthodox Church feel it should reply to those words of the Pope?

    Bartholomew I: We are deeply moved by the goodness of the intentions and the love in the words of our dearly beloved brother in Christ, the Bishop of Rome, who once upon a time was "he who sees to charity" in the unity of communion of the true life in the Church. Therefore, "let us not lose heart" in our toiling to promote dialogue between Rome and the Orthodox Church ... But from the wisdom of the saints we learn that unity "which has as its teacher the Most Holy Trinity," means more than sentimental rapprochement and good intentions of a psychological kind. The split among Christians in no way corresponds to the worldly controversies between ideologies or the powers of institutions. Among those, reasonable mutual concessions and the formulation of compromises can lead to theoretical agreement and a unity of organization. In the Church, on the other hand, the goal is the life which vanquishes death — "if for us truth truly lies in deeds and not in words."


    The most recent stage in theological dialogue between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches was the meeting of the joint commission at Balamand in June last year at which Catholics acknowledged that the uniate solution is not the right way to achieve unity. It was an important meeting, even if some of the Orthodox Churches were absent. How was the final report received in the Orthodox world?

    Bartholomew I: The recognition at Balamand that the uniate solution contradicts even the elementary requirements for a common transit towards repentance was an important step in smoothing the path of dialogue. The mistrust, however, of the Orthodox Churches in the face of similar retractions needs to be properly understood. They see them certainly as being important, but as strategic retractions. In dialogue we are still skirting the main and essential problems of the split. We haven't even grazed them. Let me repeat again: the differences that have divided the Church are not ideological and formal. The Church gives meaning to human life and the different meanings given create different hierarchies of priority, a different way of conducting human relationships, and quite definitely a different culture. The dialogue between the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox Churches does not concern mere "religious" differences. At present it is more obvious that dialogue is concerned with the dramatic crisis of the entire cultural paradigm of so-called *modernism*, a paradigm that came out of the Enlightenment as against medieval theology but also as a descendant of the latter. The differences about the *Filioque* or about papal infallibility or about the geographic conception of catholicity reflect earlier initial differences. Until we face them squarely, in shared *metanoia*, "we are threshing the wind." ....


    The Pope has pointed out that if he is the successor to Peter, you are the successor to Andrew. The story of the Apostle brothers evokes the basis of unity between Catholics and Orthodox. In ecumenical dialogue there is increasing reference to the comforting matter of the essential: the faith of the Apostles, the shared *depositum fidei*. What do you think of this fact?

    Bartholomew I: The Apostolic succession is not an honorary historic title or a boast about "aristocratic" succession. It is the vital transmission of the experience of those who "were eyewitnesses to the Word," the grafting of the life manifest, "which was present to the Father and has been revealed to us" (1 Jn 1:2). We are not automatically and "naturally" successors of Peter and of Andrew, but we strive each day to prove ourselves their heirs. For, the deposit of faith, also, is not an ideological inheritance or theoretical fidelity to conceptual formulations, but becomes real and manifests itself as an event and as the evangelization of life in the eucharistic body — when the Eucharist really coincides with the definition of the Church and is not adulterated to become a sentimentally joyous and ethico-instructional "religious" rite.


Interview by the deacon John Suhayda, Holy Taxiarhai - St. Haralambos Greek Orthodox Church Niles, Illinois USA. [From the Diaspora home page project on the Patriarchate of Constantinople]


Patriarch Bartholomew's speech at the meeting with Pope John Paul II

Constantinople and Rome :
A Survey of the Relations between the Byzantine and the Roman Churches

Greek Orthodoxy - From Apostolic Times to the Present Day

The Symbol of Faith  *  The Orthodox Church


Papacy - The Plague of Christianity

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