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Original Post (Thread Starter)
by ajk
ajk
I only recently read this from the Catholic News Agency article, Vatican cardinal supports common Easter date for Catholics, Orthodox, Mar 12, 2021:
Quote
The president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, Cardinal Kurt Koch, has supported a suggestion that Catholics and Orthodox work to agree on a common date to celebrate Easter.

A representative of the Patriarchate of Constantinople to the World Council of Churches (WCC) said a common Easter date could be a sign of “encouragement” for the ecumenical movement.

Orthodox Archbishop Job Getcha of Telmessos suggested that the year 2025, which will be the 1,700th anniversary of the First Ecumenical Council of Nicea, would be a good year to introduce this reform of the calendar.

This is an initiative of the of Ecu­meni­cal Patri­ar­chate. The full proposal by Archbishop Job, giving the scope and intent, is the second article (scroll down) in the February 2021 Newsletter of the Per­ma­nent Dele­ga­tion of the Ecu­meni­cal Patri­ar­chate to the World Council of Churches: EDITORIAL TOWARDS A COMMON DATE OF EASTER: REMAINING FAITHFUL TO THE COUNCIL OF NICEA (325).

Four years, then, to study and prepare and discuss.

We've had several spirited discussion related to this topic on this forum. What will it take for this new initiative be viable?

I invite all to give their views on what it will take for there is to be real progress, not the stagnation and stalemate of the past. I say progress and not (complete) success because I suspect there will be some who will never accept anything but THEIR status quo. Will truth prevail -- and should it -- at the risk of schism?

This calendar question, more precisely a unified observance of the annual feast of Pascha, acknowledged as the Feast of Feasts, is not dogma but it is theology, specifically (I'd say) Liturgical Theology. That is why this thread is here in Faith and Theology and not a News forum. For my part I intend to identify certain defining issues and significant events, and what I believe are the basic facts that must be clarified and accepted, before there can be any real progress.
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by ajk
ajk
Originally Posted by ajk
5: The need for the Orthodox Revised Julian Calendar, and the “exact” scientific, astronomical approach may be an unnecessary complication; there are caveats and ramifications that need to be explored and documented. If the church does science then it must be held to the standards of science: properly report the methodology, the calculation, the database, the results, according to the norms of scientific reporting. The “exact” scientific, astronomical approach is just another model of the cosmos, more sophisticated and detailed than a traditional computus but a model nevertheless.

The 1997 Aleppo statement recommends that "the most likely way to succeed in achieving a common date for Easter in our own day would be," in II 11.(b), "to calculate the astronomical data ... by the most accurate possible scientific means," It then explains
Quote
In regard to point b:In recommending calculation of the astronomical data by the most accurate possible scientific means (as distinct, for example, from reliance on conventional cyclical tables or personal observation), the consultation believes that it is being completely faithful to the spirit of the Council of Nicea itself, which also was willing to make use of the best available scientific knowledge. We are fortunate that experts in astronomy have already provided these necessary calculations; they are conveniently presented in Synodica V (Chambésy - Genève, Les Editions du Centre Orthodoxe, 1981) 133 - 149.

This is an example of throwing out terms and objectives that sound reasonable and even commendable but risk being hyperbole. How often will the calculation be updated as scientific data and theories improve? At what actual level of sophistication will the calculations be performed? How precise do they need to be to fit the criteria? Aleppo was in 1997 and the calculated data is from 1981. Consider this from the introduction to the Explanatory Supplement to the Astronomical Almanac 3rd Edition (2012), keying on the word new:
Quote
1.1.4 Conceptual Changes since the Last Edition
There have been a number of major changes since the 1992 edition …New procession and nutation theories have been adopted. New timescales and coordinate transformations have been introduced... Increases in accuracy, and the theories required by the increased accuracies, have driven most of these changes. … These observations have been used to define a conceptually new reference system. … At these accuracy levels, the definitions of the reference systems and the methods of reduction and analysis require the theory of relativity.

The new, space-fixed, barycentiric astronomical reference system … The new reference system, called the International Celestial Reference System (ICRS). is defined by a series of International Astronomical Union (IAU) resolutions passed In 1991, 1997, 2000. 2003 and 2006…

In order to define rigorously the ICRS in relativistic terms, the IAU introduced two systems… The IAU established a new moving reference frame of date … the IAU introduced new concepts and definitions including a new combined precession-nutation model …
This is for just a 20 year period. Are the churches and its scientific experts willing to keep up with all this to give us the timing of Pascha by the envisioned "most accurate possible scientific means"? Does adherence to the Nicaean norm justify this level of technical complexity and detail?

One of the difficulties about the calendar issue is that it has so many dimensions: historical, theological, sociological, pastoral, scientific; it requires an interdisciplinary approach. For instance, consider this Fr. John Whiteford on the New Calendar Controversy in Orthodoxy (Interview with Michael Lofton) (link), streamed live on Jan 14, 2020, and the relative proportion of each of the dimensions.

Also, on the common sense level there are those who have little or no interest in the details or a desire to make the effort to learn yet, they have strong opinions and through the internet the means to express their uninformed, faulty opinions. For the 2025 initiative to move the churches, the christian, forward to a common reckoning of Pascha there must be a proper and accepted catechesis of all, the people and the expert alike. It needs to begin now.
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