Written by Sherry
Thursday, 05 November 2009 07:55
In Cyprus, important meetings are occurring between Catholic and Orthodox theologians (via the UK's Catholic Herald):
"The meeting of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue Between the Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church focused on a key factor in the ongoing division between Catholic and Orthodox: the role of the pope as Bishop of Rome.
The protesters - who were arrested on the third day of their demonstration - claimed that the ongoing dialogue between the two churches was aimed at getting the Orthodox to submit to papal authority.
According to a statement released by the dialogue commission, Orthodox officials discussed "the negative reactions to the dialogue by certain Orthodox circles and unanimously considered them as totally unfounded and unacceptable, providing false and misleading information". The Orthodox delegates "reaffirmed that the dialogue continues with the decision of all the Orthodox churches and is pursued with faithfulness to the truth and the tradition of the Church", according to a statement released in Cyprus and at the Vatican."
"The Russian Orthodox delegation had walked out of the commission's 2007 dialogue during an inter-Orthodox dispute over which Orthodox communities were qualified to send representatives to the meeting.
The Orthodox protesters in Cyprus last week forced a Catholic priest to cancel a wedding planned in an Orthodox church opposite where the talks were being held.
Archbishop Chrysostomos II strongly condemned the protests, saying that for people to put their own opinion above that of the synods of the entire Orthodox faith "amounts to vanity, indeed satanic vanity".
It is hard to imagine a Catholic Archbishop or Pope Benedict using such language, whatever they might think of such protests but the popular Orthodox resistance and fears to possible Orthodox-Catholic reproachment remind me of conservative Catholic fears about Protestantism.
American Catholics afraid of being "Protestantized". (This isn't a universal Catholic fear. It is just that in the US, evangelical Protestantism has been the dominant religious force and we still feel the effects of two centuries of struggling to maintain the Catholic faith in a deeply Protestant context.)
Orthodox afraid of being "Latinized" or "Catholicized". (Swallowed up by a 1.2 billion spiritual neighbor who is 4 times your size and claims the same historical primacy that you do. 1204 and all that. Remember Constantinople!)
As Pope Innocent III, the man who had unintentionally launched the ill-fated expedition, thundered against the crusaders who had pillaged Constantinople:
"How, indeed, will the church of the Greeks, no matter how severely she is beset with afflictions and persecutions, return into ecclesiastical union and to a devotion for the Apostolic See, when she has seen in the Latins only an example of perdition and the works of darkness, so that she now, and with reason, detests the Latins more than dogs? As for those who were supposed to be seeking the ends of Jesus Christ, not their own ends, who made their swords, which they were supposed to use against the pagans, drip with Christian blood, they have spared neither religion, nor age, nor sex. They have committed incest, adultery, and fornication before the eyes of men. They have exposed both matrons and virgins, even those dedicated to God, to the sordid lusts of boys. Not satisfied with breaking open the imperial treasury and plundering the goods of princes and lesser men, they also laid their hands on the treasures of the churches and, what is more serious, on their very possessions. They have even ripped silver plates from the altars and have hacked them to pieces among themselves. They violated the holy places and have carried off crosses and relics."
It is beyond poignant how the sense of threat changes depending upon where you begin. And where you have been.