19 February 2008, 18:29
No breakthrough in Orthodox-Catholic dialogue - Russian Church (updated)
Moscow, February 19, Interfax - The Moscow Patriarchate doesn't share the optimism of Walter Kasper, the president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, regarding the outcome of a meeting between Orthodox and Catholics in Ravenna.
Earlier, the Vatican official said in an interview with the Our Sunday Visitor magazine, while commenting on the final document adopted by the Ravenna meeting of the Mixed Orthodox-Catholic Theologian Commission, that a "real breakthrough" had been accomplished in the dialogue between the two Churches.
"I don't share Cardinal Kasper's optimism about the Ravenna document and deem it premature," Bishop Hilarion of Vienna and all Austria, who represents the Russian Church in European international organizations, told Interfax-Religion on Tuesday.
The Russian and Bulgarian Orthodox Churches and the Orthodox Church in America did not attend the Ravenna meeting. More than half of the Orthodox population are members of these churches, he said.
Consequently, the bishop said, the Ravenna document cannot be described as "Orthodox-Catholic." It is an agreement between representatives of the Catholic Church and some, but not all local Orthodox Churches, he said.
The bishop noted that the cardinal’s interview “in no way implicates that Orthodox-Catholic dialogue should or may result in revision of the Roman-Catholic teaching on the papal primacy.” On the contrary, Kasper thinks once the Eucharistic communication is restored “a new form of primacy would be found for Orthodox Church.”
According to Bishop Hilarion, Kasper refers to the form already existing “in Eastern Churches in communion with Rome”, in the Greek Catholic Churches.
The Russian Church’s representative considers it as just the next proposal to follow Greek-Catholic example and “join the Union with Rome.”
The interviewee of the agency noted that the cardinal reminded: the Catholic Church had already had two models of primacy described in two canonical law codes - for the Latin Church and for Eastern Churches. “In compliance with the canonical codes, the primacy is realized differently in the Latin Church and in the Eastern Churches,” Kasper said.
‘If it is ‘a breakthrough’ reached in the Ravenna meeting, then I’m afraid it won’t inspire Orthodox believers who consider the Union - in form realized in history - a symbol of violation against their conscience and betrayal of Orthodoxy,’ the hierarch noted.
Bishop Hilarion stressed that Orthodox and Catholic didn’t need ‘another Union.’
‘We need a strategical partnership excluding any forms of proselytism. Further theological dialogue is also necessary to clear up the most controversial provisions of the Orthodox and Catholic ecclesiology (teaching on the Church - IF) rather than to adopt a new Union,” he stated.
The Moscow Patriarchate’s delegation left one of the commission’s first sessions in Ravenna as they didn’t agree to participation of the so-called ‘Estonian Apostolic Church’ established by the Constantinople Patriarchate on the Russian Church’s canonical territory in 1996. In the absence of the Russian Church’s representatives, the participants adopted a final document defining their joint view on the nature of rule in the Ecumenical Church.