Friday, March 15, 2013

Eastern Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople to Attend Papal Installation Mass, the Fruit of Pope Benedict's Historic Ecumenical Work!

Pope Benedict XVI and Ecumenical
Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew in 2006
at the Patriarch's residence in Instanbul
Tuesday will be a landmark day in the history of Christianity and ecumenical relations: the Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople will attend Pope Francis' installation Mass.

As if that wasn't enough, three other Orthodox bishops are coming with him!

I cannot stress enough what a hugely significant moment this is in Christian history! It is the first time that such a thing has happened since the Great Western Schism in 1054.

This is almost impossible to believe!!!

Here's the report that is rocking the Christian world (with some emphases added by me in bold italics). As the story notes, this epic gesture of unity is the fruit of the incredible ecumenical work of Pope Benedict, which was a top priority of his papacy. Indeed, in his statement upon Benedict's retirement the Patriarch spoke in glowing terms of the Benedict.

Here's the story about Tuesday:
Istanbul (AsiaNews) - The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I will attend Pope Francis's inaugural Mass. The Ecumenical Patriarchate Press Office informed AsiaNews about the decision, noting that this is the first time such an event occurs since the Catholic-Orthodox split in 1054, an important sign for Christian unity. 
The ecumenical patriarch will be accompanied by Ioannis Zizioulas, metropolitan of Pergamon and co-president of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox Church, as well as Tarassios, Orthodox Metropolitan of Argentina, and Gennadios, Orthodox Metropolitan of Italy
Relations between Catholics and Orthodox have been improving since the Second Vatican Council through mutual visits, acts of friendship and theological dialogue. 
Under Benedict XVI, the dialogue picked up in earnest after a lull. In trying to promote it, the pope suggested ways to express the primacy of Peter's successor that could be acceptable to the Orthodox, finding his inspiration from the undivided Church of the first millennium. 
Catholic ecumenism has met however with great resistance from the Russian Orthodox Church and the Moscow Patriarchate, seat of the 'Third Rome'. 
The head of the Russian Orthodox Church's Department for External Relations, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, said on Thursday that a meeting between the pope and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow was "possible but the place and timing will depend on how quickly we will overcome the consequences of the conflicts from the turn of 1980s and 1990s". 
The issue of the Ukrainian Catholic Church is at the core of the "conflicts" to which Hilarion was referring. Although it was unbanned following the collapse of the Soviet Union, it was left without its original churches, which had been seized by the Communists under Soviet rule and later transferred to the Orthodox Church. 
Still, "on several occasions, Pope Francis has shown spiritual sympathy towards the Orthodox Church and a desire for closer contacts," Hilarion said. It is his hope that under the new pontificate "relations of alliance will develop and that our ties will be strengthened." [Source]
Here was the Patriarch's appreciative statement on hearing of Benedict's resignation:
It is with regret that we have learned of the decision by His Holiness Pope Benedict to retire from his Throne, because with his wisdom and experience he could have provided much more to the Church and the world. 
Pope Benedict leaves an indelible mark on the life and history of the Roman Catholic Church, sealed not only by his brief papacy, but also by his broad and longstanding contribution as a theologian and hierarch of his Church, as well as his universally acknowledged prestige. 
His writings will long speak of his deep theological understanding, through his knowledge of the Fathers of the undivided Church, his familiarity with contemporary reality, and his keen interest in the problems of humankind. 
We Orthodox will always honor him as a friend of our Church and a faithful servant of the sacred proposition for the union of all. Moreover, we shall rejoice upon learning of his sound health and the productivity of his theological work. 
Personally, we remember with emotion his visit to the See of the Ecumenical Patriarchate over six years ago, together with the numerous encounters and excellent cooperation, which we enjoyed throughout the duration of his primatial ministry. 
From the Phanar, we pray that the Lord will manifest his worthy successor as the head of the sister Church of Rome, and that we may also continue with this successor on our common journey toward the unity of all unto the glory of God. [Source]

21 comments:

FrH said...

I haven't seen anything that states that the Orthodox will participate as concelebrants, and I would be a little surprised if that happens. I would be happy, but I'd be surprised.

Saint Michael Pray for us! said...

This is ABSOLUTELY blasphemous and if this is true it is proof that the end is near of this complete and total blasphemy!!! Rome is still in heresy!

Saint Michael Pray for us! said...

Apostasy!

Esteban said...

Please note that the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople absolutely will NOT "celebrate the Eucharist" with the Pope of Rome on the occasion of his upcoming installation. The Patriarch and other Orthodox hierarchs present will be in attendance at the ceremonies on March 19, but will NOT engage in communicatio in sacris of any sort.

It should further be noted that the present Ecumenical Patriarch has been in attendance at liturgical functions in the Vatican on several occasions over the course of nearly 20 years--most recently for the opening of the Year of Faith (at which he delivered an opening address), and most notably for the Funeral of the Pope of Rome John Paul II (together with the heads of at least two other Local Churches and representatives of many others).

I would respectfully ask that the statement that the Patriarch will be "celebrating the Eucharist" with the Pope of Rome be removed. Not only is this false, but such a claim is a cause of deep scandal to Orthodox (and, I would suspect, traditionally-minded Catholics), and it only prompts the sort of hysterical response that we can see in the previous two comments.

Michael Barber said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael Barber said...

Esteban:

I eliminated the line as you requested.

The language I used did not intend to convey the idea that he was entering into communion with the pope or that he would be leading the liturgy! But he will be there participating in the liturgy through prayer, will he not?

The Patriarch doesn't deny that the Catholic Mass is a Eucharistic celebration and he--while not in communion with Rome--is certainly there to participate through his prayers. In that sense, "celebrating the Eucharist", is I think appropriate.

It seems to me that he will in fact be joining in the Eucharistic liturgical prayer in some way. When the he hears the "Kyrie", will he not lift up his prayers along with those around him?

But I can see how the language of "celebrating the Eucharist with" can also be misunderstood.

In the Catholic Church, at least, in the Latin Rite, when we invite a person to attend the liturgy we will often ask them if they'd like to "celebrate" with us, even if we recognize they aren't in full communion. Guidelines for receiving communion are explained. However, we use "celebrate" because every Eucharist is a joyful prayer that we invite others to join in as much as they can, hoping that one day full communion will become a reality.

And, yes, while the Ecumenical Patriarch has attended other liturgical functions, it is certainly notable that he is attending the pope's installation Mass!

Let us keep working toward unity! Tuesday will be a wonderful step along that path!

Anonymous said...

Apostasy! Apostasy! Apostasy!

Saint Michael Pray for us! said...

Not only is it misunderstood but is absolutely false thank God! When the Catholics repent of their multitude of heresies then they can partake in True Communion rather than their graceless communion without the body and the blood! Read the Patriarchal Encyclical of 1895 then you will see why we see this as blasphemous. Rome has fallen even more since 1895 after the heresy of infallibility! This is not hysterical but what the Holy Church Fathers have taught and handed down to us. There can be no salvation in heresy. Hence the term Anathema! Although the modernist patriarchs tried to remove this. The facts remain. The Filioque, papal supremacy rather than primacy, Original Sin as taught by the Catholics and being guilty of Adam's sin, the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin, are all heresies. Not to mention the false baptism practices of not full immersion when this is possible and not partaking in the body and blood. Celebrate Priests, Purgatory, Indulgences, and and and the list goes on and on and on. All rooted on this false Petrine Doctrine build on the fraudulent document called the Donation of Constantine that was proved a blatant lie by one of your own Catholic scholars. I am surprised Rome did not burn him at the stake for heresy. His argument was too strong to deny. Christ is the head of the Church there is no Vicar and the pope has not repented. I hope he does but I do not count on this for a minute since every "Catholic" I talk to defends all of these heresies with their pagan scholasticism instead of True Scholasticism as taught by the Holy Church Fathers like St. John of Damascus. Read an Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith! May God have mercy on us and preserve His One True Church the Eastern Orthodox Church despite these dreaded times of Apostasy and Ecumenism and Modernism heresies!

James Douglas said...

It is a reason for hope. I am Orthodox and while I don't for one minute expect the Patriarch to concelebrate, I do pray for the eventual unity of the Church which is a scandal to Christianity. Let us remember John 17. And would those other posters who are posting "apostasy and blasphemy" kindly moderate their hysterical words.

Anonymous said...

This is NOT such a big deal! The excommunications of 1054 were lifted by both parties years ago. The only thing separating the Orthodox and the RC's is their deviation in theology and of course, the Papal claims. Yet, the RC's are still Trinitarians and follow the 7 Ecumenical Councils. The RC's are the Orthodox "Brothers" who have deviated due to historical and scholastic pressures on their church. Issues that can be corrected. Having + Bart attend the installation is only proper. There will be no inter-communion. In today's world, Christians must find common reasons to work together against Muslims and other threats.

FrH said...

While it can be properly said that all present celebrate the Mass, the word is more often applied to the action of the priests, who celebrate it in persona Christi capitis. The principal priest at a Mass is called the "principal celebrant" and any other priests who celebrate that Mass with him are "concelebrants." While we could refer to the entire congregation in an accommodated sense as "concelebrants," I don't think you'll ever find that done in official documents or even in common usage. When we are discussing validly ordained clergy, use of the word "celebrate" becomes very confusing (at best) if they are not doing what clergy commonly do when we celebrate the Mass.

Michael Barber said...

FrH:

I agree with you that the use of the term "celebrate" came be confusing, but actually, Church documents often describe all baptized members of the worshipping community in terms of "celebrants" of the liturgy. The term is used also for the laity, which are true said to "celebrate". For example,

"Through Baptism and Confirmation the priestly people is enabled to celebrate the liturgy, while those of the faithful 'who have received Holy Orders, are appointed to nourish the Church with the word and grace of God in the name of Christ.'" (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1119).

Also, beginning with paragraph 1136, there is a whole section in the Catechism that treats the question, "Who Celebrates?" The first paragraph under "The celebrants of the sacramental liturgy" identifies celebrants with the whole assembly. Certainly, there are different offices in the Church, but as paragraph 1144 states:

"In the celebration of the sacraments it is thus the whole assembly that is leitourgos, each according to his function, but in the “unity of the Spirit” who acts in all..."

Of course, you're right though--if an ordained clergy is not acting "according to his function" this can lead to confusion.

Michael Barber said...

FrH:

I agree with you that the use of the term "celebrate" came be confusing, but actually, Church documents often describe all baptized members of the worshipping community in terms of "celebrants" of the liturgy. The term is used also for the laity, which are true said to "celebrate". For example,

"Through Baptism and Confirmation the priestly people is enabled to celebrate the liturgy, while those of the faithful 'who have received Holy Orders, are appointed to nourish the Church with the word and grace of God in the name of Christ.'" (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1119).

Also, beginning with paragraph 1136, there is a whole section in the Catechism that treats the question, "Who Celebrates?" The first paragraph under "The celebrants of the sacramental liturgy" identifies celebrants with the whole assembly. Certainly, there are different offices in the Church, but as paragraph 1144 states:

"In the celebration of the sacraments it is thus the whole assembly that is leitourgos, each according to his function, but in the “unity of the Spirit” who acts in all..."

Of course, you're right though--if an ordained clergy is not acting "according to his function" this can lead to confusion.

Esteban Vázquez said...

Michael, thank you! That was very kind of you, and I am grateful for your gracious response.

Before I went to bed last night, I had received upwards of 30 new emails, each burning with various degrees of apocalyptic paroxysm, in response to a link to this post that a friend of mine had emailed to several people. My comment above is a condensed version of my reply to the madness.

I appreciate your explanation of the peculiar way in which at least some American Catholics (and perhaps other English speakers?) use the word "celebrate." I certainly never encountered it used in this way while growing up and living in a predominantly Catholic, Spanish-speaking, Latin American country. Nor, indeed, have I so understood it when reading the Latin text of the liturgical and canonical books and documents of the Roman Church. In fact, only once in my entire life have I heard someone speak of "celebrating the Mass" in this way: it was in the spring of 1997, and I remember it vividly because I thought it exceedingly odd. I would submit, as I said to my interlocutor then, that in this context celebrare/celebratio does not denote emotion/attitude, but it is rather a cultic/ritual word. In the invitation to the Penitential Act in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, the priest calls himself and the people to acknowledge their sins "ut apti simus ad sacra mysteria celebranda"--not so that they can roar in jubilation, that is, but so that they may worthily perform the sacred mysteries. Similarly, "ars celebrandi" refers to the correct performance of liturgical actions (cf. Sacramentum Caritatis, 38ff.), and an "ordo celebrationis" is a manual of rubrics. Canon 835 §4 is illustrative here because it contains both the emotion/attitude and cultic/ritual language side by side--the "actuosa participatio" on the one hand, and the "liturgicae celebrationes" on the other.

The question of whether the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople and the other other Orthodox Bishops who will be present at the Mass of Inauguration will, or even should, "participate in the liturgy through prayer" is important, and the answer isn't as obvious as it might seem. You will recall, of course, that the 1917 Pio-Benedictine Code flatly forbade any participation or even attendance by Catholics in schismatic and/or heretical worship. While this has been significantly modified in the 1983 Code (cf. canons 755, 908, and 1365), the relevant Pio-Benedictine canons have deep roots in the ancient canonical tradition, and the authoritative status of these prohibitions still obtains in the Orthodox Church. Many of the faithful, then, especially in the traditionally Orthodox homelands, would be scandalized by the mere fact of an Orthodox hierarch's attendance at such an event. With that in mind, open displays of joining in liturgical prayer with non-Orthodox become deeply problematic, especially since there are especially harsh consequences for this in the canonical tradition. Of course, no one is actually going to depose the Ecumenical Patriarch if he is seen to sing along to the Kyrie or recite the Lord's Prayer at a Papal Mass, but the canonical tradition is not chopped liver, either! (Here I might interject that a full-time seminary rector and part-time wag, also a fine priest and canonist, is fond of saying that the Scriptures may be the word of God, but the canons are the mind of God! ;-) Anyway, as you can see, the problem is quite complex.

Be that as it may, I am grateful for your sincere enthusiasm at the announcement that the Ecumenical Patriarch and several other Orthodox Bishops will be present at the Papal Inauguration! May this a gesture of Christian friendship and good will at least result in our Churches' continued cooperation as we all seek to address the pain and brokenness of our world.

Nick said...

God, Who is Love, bore our wounds in His Own to heal the wounds to unity.

Anonymous said...

I wish our Orthodox brothers won't be so judgemental and absolute about Catholic doctrine. After all, the Orthodox at one time banned icons as symbols of idolatry, which they later recanted. If I remember right, the Catholics saved a lot of those icons, some of which were eventually returned to their rightful owners. All I am saying is that hopefully a path to compromise and Christian Unity can eventually be found as Christ has enjoined us in his teachings, rather than the total dismissal that I hear from many of our Orthodox brethren.
After all if Peter was willing to listen to Paul in regards to church doctrine, I don't see any reason why our Pope cannot to do the same to our Orthodox brethren and vice versa.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it heretical to pray with heretics? Of course we all want unity but it HAS TO BE DONE properly! Not just for the sake of uniting. Everyone seems to be in a rage to unite When the RC's can come back to the proper, original theology...only THEN should unification take place. No hating, just need TRUTH...you can not have love without Truth!!

Anonymous said...

Brothers let us not talk about heresy and heretics. Citing my previous example, at the time the Orthodox church banned icons, they considered those who venerated them also as heretics. From their perspective, all Orthodox believers today are guilty of heresy as well.

I think we should look at the examples that the apostles demonstrated in the Bible where they had differences of opinion, but were willing to compromise to preserve the unity of the Church. Only then can we achieve what Christ has enjoined us to do.

Anonymous said...

"After all, the Orthodox at one time banned icons as symbols of idolatry, which they later recanted." "Citing my previous example, at the time the Orthodox church banned icons, they considered those who venerated them also as heretics. From their perspective, all Orthodox believers today are guilty of heresy as well."

Sorry, but these references to the non-Orthodox iconoclasts as being "Orthodox" are absolutely false. True, it is probably as a result of ignorance of the true history of the Church.

At that time, certain churches in the East fell away from Orthodoxy, and in fact were heretics. Also at that time, Rome was a bastion of Orthodoxy in many ways. Don't forget, the Church was in essence One (not including the Arians, Monophysites, Non-Chalcedonians, and other heretics, etc.), Holy, Catholic (meaning "universal," and NOT a reference to modern day Roman Catholicism), and Apostolic. In one word, it was Orthodox, which refers to the "correct belief" of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. The iconoclasts were NOT Orthodox, even though they had great power in the Eastern part of the Church. This is why the Orthodox celebrate "The Triumph of Orthodoxy" when the use of the icons (holy images) was restored. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feast_of_Orthodoxy

Anonymous said...

I apologize. I should have used the Byzantine Church or the Eastern Church instead of the Orthodox Church. There were 2 periods of iconoclasm, and mainly because of Imperial disfavor of icon veneration, was centered in Constantinople, the center of the Byzantine Empire although many Eastern Bishops disagreed with the Emperor. The Eastern Church was divided on this issue and only after the Seventh Ecumenical Council was convened with papal representatives participating in favor of icon veneration, was the issue finally resolved, although it took awhile for some members of the Byzantine Empire to finally accept it.

Enoughofthis said...

I am afraid that the patriarchate of Constantinople has been in apostasy since 1926 and therefore cannot be considered as orthodox. And the orthodox church has never been prey to iconoclasm. Those comments about the iconoclasts show the total misunderstanding of the church and orthodoxy. Those who were iconoclasts were by definition not orthodox and therefore not part of the church. The church is not a man made system. Constantinople has fallen into heresy before ( eg monothelitism etc) And while Bishops might have continued in their places and everything looked "orthodox" they were emphatically not Orthodox, since one can only be orthodox by holding the orthodox faith among other things. The Roman schismatics opted out many years ago. It preferred man made "theology" based on the systems of pagan philosophers to the life of the spirit and has since gone from "strength to strength" drunk on it's own sophistry. The west cannot and will not see its own self deception. I hope this is a slightly more reasoned response to this topic. Perhaps it might explain partially to the Romans that to the Orthodox ecumenism and all it's attendant trappings are repulsive.And that we see with great indignation and shame and sorrow,all that the pseudo prelates of Constantinople are doing in "orthodoxys" name.