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http://www.interfax-religion.com/?act=news&div=3803

Moscow, October 17, Interfax - The Orthodox-Catholic dialogue cannot be considered comprehensive without account for the opinion of the Russian Orthodox Church, Bishop of Vienna and Austria Hilarion Alfeyev, the Russian Orthodox Church's envoy to European institutions in Vienna, said.

"Since the largest Orthodox Church with a following exceeding the aggregate amount of the remaining Orthodox Churches is absent in the dialogue, such a state of affairs casts doubt over the legitimacy of the Orthodox-Catholic dialogue," Bishop Hilarion said in an interview with the NG-Religii newspaper published on Wednesday.

The participants in the 10th plenary session of the Joint Orthodox-Catholic Theological Commission in Ravenna earlier signed a final document, with which the delegation of the Moscow Patriarchate disagreed. The Moscow Patriarchate's delegation left the session in protest at the presence of representatives of the so called Estonian Apostolic Church (Eesti Apostlik-Oigeusu Kirik), created in 1996 by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in the canonical territory of the Russian Orthodox Church.

According to Bishop Hilarion, "the Russian Church withdrew from this dialogue only because of the Patriarchate of Constantinople," and its return to the dialogue will depend exclusively on the position of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.


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Just MP and Interfax grandstanding. The MP delegation left for a purely political reason, nt in protest of issues raised in relation to Catholic/ Orthodox dialogue.
If you are not part of the dialogue how can you criticise it?

This is very petty and takes the attention away from the important work of Catholic/ Orthodox dialogue and I say this as an Orthodox Christian.

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Whether the Russian Patriarchate is right or not, without their involvement in the dialogue, it will go nowhere. So it is true that the current dialogue is of little consequence.

Joe

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What do they mean by "dialogue"? It can have several meanings. (A dialogue to which objective?)

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Since the largest Orthodox Church with a following exceeding the aggregate amount of the remaining Orthodox Churches...

What is this mean, pray tell????

Might is right?

I thought Truth was Truth? Surely the issue is for the Orthodox delegation to represent the theological Truth of Orthodoxy.


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Originally Posted by Zan
http://www.interfax-religion.com/?act=news&div=3803

Moscow, October 17, Interfax - The Orthodox-Catholic dialogue cannot be considered comprehensive without account for the opinion of the Russian Orthodox Church, Bishop of Vienna and Austria Hilarion Alfeyev, the Russian Orthodox Church's envoy to European institutions in Vienna, said.

"Since the largest Orthodox Church with a following exceeding the aggregate amount of the remaining Orthodox Churches is absent in the dialogue, such a state of affairs casts doubt over the legitimacy of the Orthodox-Catholic dialogue," Bishop Hilarion said in an interview with the NG-Religii newspaper published on Wednesday.

The participants in the 10th plenary session of the Joint Orthodox-Catholic Theological Commission in Ravenna earlier signed a final document, with which the delegation of the Moscow Patriarchate disagreed. The Moscow Patriarchate's delegation left the session in protest at the presence of representatives of the so called Estonian Apostolic Church (Eesti Apostlik-Oigeusu Kirik), created in 1996 by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in the canonical territory of the Russian Orthodox Church.

According to Bishop Hilarion, "the Russian Church withdrew from this dialogue only because of the Patriarchate of Constantinople," and its return to the dialogue will depend exclusively on the position of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.

Oh good Lord! frown

No further comment,
Alice

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Before we get too critical of the Moscow Patriarchate, let's remember that the Russian Orthodox Church encompasses better than half of the Christians who are Orthodox in the world.

It might be a good learning experience for Rome. Dialogue with the Orthodox Churches will not be some easy walk because there is no single authority in Orthodoxy that one can go to for a definite answer on any given question. The issue of recognition of canonicity is just one.

So we all need to step back and pray that the issues can be resolved so that a dialogue can take place that has meaning and substance. We also need to understand that things tht may seem trivial to some of our brethren may not be so for all of our brethren. Reconciliation in a family takes into account the perceptions of all the members and that often takes much longer than one would first imagine.

In Christ,

BOB

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Reconciliations in a family sometimes means one deferring to the other for the greater good. The far greater person is the one that can find that kind of humility. Prayers for this matter. Lord have mercy on us sinners!

Alice

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It seems a little juvenile to leave a gathering and then claim that the gathering was meritless right after you left. Impossible to marginalize the importance of the Russian church; the statement seemed beneath them.

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Before criticizing the Moscow Patriarchate even more or bashing it for its supposed stance on Ecumenical Dialogue, please read the latest "Inside the Vatican" Newsflash, which contains an illuminating interview with Bishop Hilarion.

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This is an "Inside the Vatican" Newsflash

The Great Walk-Out

The Russian Orthodox delegation walked out of the theological meeting last week in Ravenna, Italy. Why? And what does it mean for the future? We asked the head of the delegation, Russian Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev, to explain. An exclusive "Inside the Vatican" interview

by Robert Moynihan

Pope asks for prayers after Russian Orthodox walk out of dialogue

Something unexpected happened during the October 8-15 theological meeting in Ravenna, Italy, at which dozens of theologians were expected to make progress toward bridging the gap between the Orthodox and Catholics Churches.

One of the most important delegations, the one from the Russian Orthodox Church, abruptly walked out of the meeting at the very outset, and never came back. The other theologians continued to meet, but without the input from the representatives of the Orthodox Church which has as many members as all the other Orthodox Churches combined.

The decision shocked many at the meeting and around the world. How had it come to this?

On October 10, Pope Benedict XVI himself, speaking in Rome at his General Audience, asked for prayers for the participants in the theological dialogue. "I ask you to join me in praying that this important meeting will help the journey toward full communion between Catholics and Orthodox and that we could soon share the same chalice of the Lord," the Pope said.

As the week of meetings was about to begin on October 8, Russian Orthodox Bishop Hilarion of Vienna and Austria, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church's delegation, told the participants from 15 other Orthodox Churches that his delegation would abandon the meeting if the Estonian Orthodox delegation was not asked to leave.

The Russian Orthodox Church does not recognize the Estonian Apostolic Church, which is tied to the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. The Russian Orthodox Church believes the Orthodox in Estonia fall under the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church, not the ecumenical patriarchate.

But the Estonians were not asked to leave, so the Russians left Ravenna, while the dialogue continued among the delegations that remained.

One participant at the dialogue said that both Catholic and Orthodox representatives were "a bit shocked" at Bishop Hilarion's ultimatum and decision to leave, but the Catholic position was that it was an internal Orthodox matter.

By coincidence, the delegates focused their discussion on a matter seemingly having some relation to issues involved in this controversy: "The Ecclesiological and Canonical Consequences of the Sacramental Nature of the Church: Ecclesial Communion, Conciliarity and Authority in the Church."

In general, the theologians are attempting to work out a common document on how responsibility and authority are exercised in the Church on the local, regional and universal level. This will then lay the foundation for a second document focusing on primacy within the Church and, specifically, on the status and role of the bishop of Rome among all Christian bishops, which is one of the great remaining issues separating Catholics and Orthodox.

We decided to contact Bishop Hilarion and ask for his explanation of his decision. Why did the Russians leave the meeting, and what will it mean for the future of the Catholic-Orthodox dialogue?

INSIDE THE VATICAN: Bishop Hilarion, everyone wants to know why you walked out of the Ravenna meaning. How could this have happened at the last minute like this? Was the presence of the Estonian delegation something you did not know about before you arrived?

BISHOP HILARION ALFEYEV: First, it was not only I who walked out. It was the entire delegation, which consisted of myself and Father Igor Vyzhanov. It was not my decision to walk out. It was the decision of the Russian Orthodox Church's Bishops' Council in the year 2000, which I could not disobey. Moreover, at the request of Metropolitan John (Zizioulas), I phoned Metropolitan Kirill to ask what I was supposed to do, and he said that both I and Father Igor had to leave. So, it was not my decision; it was the official decision. And it was not my ultimatum; it was that of the Russian Orthodox Church. It is very important to say this clearly. I do not think I was in any way responsible for the decision, which was not mine. But each of us represents our Churches.

Second, no, the list of participants was not known before we arrived. In fact, from the very beginning of the official Catholic-Orthodox dialogue in 1980 until 2007 the list of participants remained unchanged, and Ravenna was the first time when the Patriarchate of Constantinople unilaterally decided to invite the representatives of the so-called Estonian Autonomous Church. This came as an unpleasant surprise, especially because the Patriarchate of Constantinople had been aware of the position of the Russian Orthodox Church adopted at its Bishops� Council of 2000. This Council decided that we cannot participate in an official meeting where the representatives of the so-called Estonian Autonomous Church are present.

There are a number of autonomous and autocephalous Churches which, for various reasons, are not universally recognized in the Orthodox world. For example, there is the autocephalous Orthodox Church in America and the autonomous Orthodox Church of Japan: they were never invited to such dialogues because the Patriarchate of Constantinople does not recognize their current status. If the so-called Church of Estonia, which is an autonomous structure under the Patriarchate of Constantinople, should be invited, why not invite these other churches? Why, then, not invite the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which has an autonomous status under the Moscow Patiarchate? What about the autonomous Orthodox Church of Latvia? What about the Orthodox Church of Estonia that belongs to the Moscow Patriarchate and also has an autonomous status?

If the composition of the Orthodox half of the Mixed Commission should be changed, this must be done with the consent of all Orthodox Churches. If, however, there is no such consent, it is safer to preserve the composition of the Orthodox group as it was from the beginning - until the matter is resolved at a Pan-Orthodox Council.

ITV: What is the role of the "Petrine office" in Orthodox theology and practice?

ALFEYEV: We do not have any theology of the Petrine office on the level of the Universal Church. Our ecclesiology does not have room for such a concept. This is why the Orthodox Church has for centuries opposed the idea of the universal jurisdiction of any bishop, including the Bishop of Rome.

We recognize that there is a certain order in which the primates of the Local Churches should be mentioned. In this order the Bishop of Rome occupied the first place until 1054, and then the primacy of order in the Orthodox Church was shifted to the Patriarch of Constantinople, who until the schism had been the second in order. But we believe that all primates of the Local Churches are equal to one another, and none of them has jurisdiction over any other.

ITV: Did the week of discussion that continued without you yield anything interesting or useful?

ALFEYEV: I do not know to what conclusion the meeting came, since the document remains unpublished. Once it is published, the Moscow Patriarchate will study it.

ITV: Was there something you intended or planned to say at Ravenna?

ALFEYEV: My intention was to work hard in Ravenna both as a member of the Mixed Commission and as a member of its Drafting Committee. In the spring of this year, the Drafting Committee met in Rome, and we successfully resolved the problems that had been created during the plenary meeting of the Commission in Belgrade in 2006. I had every reason to believe that, if our proposals were accepted in Ravenna, we would have moved forward and finished the document. Apparently, the document is now finished, but since I did not take part in the discussions I am not qualified to say whether its conclusions will be acceptable for my Church.

The absence of the Moscow Patriarchate from this stage of the work of the Mixed Commission, in my opinion, makes the whole work of the Commission problematic. I know that the Patriarchate of Constantinople does not share this opinion. Metropolitan John (Zizioulas) said very clearly to me in front of all other Orthodox delegates: �If one Orthodox Church leaves, the others will continue the dialogue�. But the Moscow Patriarchate represents more than a half of world Orthodox Christianity. Without it, the Catholic-Orthodox dialogue will in fact be a dialogue of the Catholic Church with less than a half of the Orthodox Church.

I am aware that the Catholics regard the whole situation as an �inter-Orthodox problem.� This is a comfortable position. I believe, however, that the situation should be a matter of concern also for our Catholic partners, if they want this dialogue to be truly legitimate and inclusive. Some common efforts should be made in order to avoid similar situations in the future.

ITV: What might the future hold? Will there be another meeting? Is there any chance for Christians to be in communion with one another, or will the divisions continue -- perhaps another thousand years, perhaps forever?

ALFEYEV: I hope that by the next meeting of the Mixed Commission, which will take place probably in two years, some solution will be found which will allow the Orthodox Churches to work together in harmony and solidarity, as was the case before Ravenna. In the meantime the Russian Orthodox Church will study the whole question of primacy in the Universal Church from a theological point of view. By the decision of the Holy Synod, the Theological Commission of the Moscow Patriarchate is given the mandate to examine this question and to produce a relevant paper. This paper will form the basis of the Moscow Patriarchate�s position in the future discussion on the issue of primacy within the Mixed Commission, if we return to it. I say �if�, because our ability to join the Commission will largely depend on the position of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.

Only God knows whether or when the division between the Catholic and the Orthodox Churches will be overcome. But I believe that we must work for it. And I am deeply saddened that �church politics� undermines our work. In the time when we urgently need to find new ways for coming closer to each other we demonstrate disunity and discord.

I am glad, however, that apart from the Mixed Commission there are other mechanisms of Catholic-Orthodox collaboration, and I am sure that more such mechanisms will be created in the future. There is, for example, the whole area of bilateral relations between the Roman Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church. There is an ongoing cultural exchange, there is an exchange on the scholarly level, and there are many other examples of cooperation. This gives us hope for a major breakthrough in our relationship in the near future. Such a breakthrough would be most timely and most welcome


Apparently, the Russian Orthodox Church walked out because, among other things, it felt that it was unfair for the Ecumenical Patriarchate to invite the Estonian Orthodox (whose status is not recognized by Moscow), when Moscow hasn't brought in its the daughter Churches whose autonomous / autocephalous status are not recognized by the Phanar.

Bishop Hilarion also takes pains to point out that ecumenical dialogue between Catholicism and Orthodoxy is not dead.

I have been critical of the Moscow Patriarchate in some of my past posts, but I think that in this case, the Russian Orthodox -- and Bishop Hilarion especially -- do not deserve the tarring they have received. Besides, the Italian neswpaper quoted by CWNNews is a secular newspaper, and we all know how easily such rags distort whatever it is that religious personalities have to say.

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ALFEYEV: We do not have any theology of the Petrine office on the level of the Universal Church. Our ecclesiology does not have room for such a concept. This is why the Orthodox Church has for centuries opposed the idea of the universal jurisdiction of any bishop, including the Bishop of Rome.

We recognize that there is a certain order in which the primates of the Local Churches should be mentioned. In this order the Bishop of Rome occupied the first place until 1054, and then the primacy of order in the Orthodox Church was shifted to the Patriarch of Constantinople, who until the schism had been the second in order. But we believe that all primates of the Local Churches are equal to one another, and none of them has jurisdiction over any other.

Well said by Bishop Hilarion.

I believe they were in the right for leaving the dialog.

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Thank you for posting this. It brings much needed clarification.

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Originally Posted by AMM
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ALFEYEV: We do not have any theology of the Petrine office on the level of the Universal Church. Our ecclesiology does not have room for such a concept. This is why the Orthodox Church has for centuries opposed the idea of the universal jurisdiction of any bishop, including the Bishop of Rome.

We recognize that there is a certain order in which the primates of the Local Churches should be mentioned. In this order the Bishop of Rome occupied the first place until 1054, and then the primacy of order in the Orthodox Church was shifted to the Patriarch of Constantinople, who until the schism had been the second in order. But we believe that all primates of the Local Churches are equal to one another, and none of them has jurisdiction over any other.

Well said by Bishop Hilarion.

I believe they were in the right for leaving the dialog.

Is he reducing the primacy simply to the order in which the hierarchs are mentioned in the liturgy? If so, such a view is difficult to reconcile with the history of the Bishop of Rome vis-a-vis other Churches.

He may not be saying that, of course. It is difficult to tell since it is not a comprehensive statement.

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Originally Posted by ebed melech
Originally Posted by AMM
Quote
ALFEYEV: We do not have any theology of the Petrine office on the level of the Universal Church. Our ecclesiology does not have room for such a concept. This is why the Orthodox Church has for centuries opposed the idea of the universal jurisdiction of any bishop, including the Bishop of Rome.

We recognize that there is a certain order in which the primates of the Local Churches should be mentioned. In this order the Bishop of Rome occupied the first place until 1054, and then the primacy of order in the Orthodox Church was shifted to the Patriarch of Constantinople, who until the schism had been the second in order. But we believe that all primates of the Local Churches are equal to one another, and none of them has jurisdiction over any other.

Well said by Bishop Hilarion.

I believe they were in the right for leaving the dialog.

Is he reducing the primacy simply to the order in which the hierarchs are mentioned in the liturgy? If so, such a view is difficult to reconcile with the history of the Bishop of Rome vis-a-vis other Churches.

He may not be saying that, of course. It is difficult to tell since it is not a comprehensive statement.

Gordo

Gordo,

This is the Orthodox view and it will not change. Hence, there will be no reunion. Our official dialogues should aim at mutual cooperation and the resolution of individual political problems as they come up, but I don't think that restored communion can be a serious goal unless Rome is willing to abandon the teachings on Papal Primacy articulated at VI & VII.

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Originally Posted by JSMelkiteOrthodoxy
Gordo,

This is the Orthodox view and it will not change. Hence, there will be no reunion. Our official dialogues should aim at mutual cooperation and the resolution of individual political problems as they come up, but I don't think that restored communion can be a serious goal unless Rome is willing to abandon the teachings on Papal Primacy articulated at VI & VII.

Joe

Joe,

I realize that this represents the common position as stated by most Orthodox hierarchs.

However, my question is how does this view square with the notion of a functioning Patriarchate outside of its traditional territory? Is it not a case of bishops exercising jurisdiction over other bishops? The case in London with Bishop Basil is an example. Since when does London fall under the traditional territory of the Patriarchate of Moscow? The answer is: it does not and never has. And since His Grace, Bishop Basil, is a bishop equal to Patriarch Alexi in his episcopal consecration, was his attempt to exercise any jurisdiction over the Church and Bishop in London a violation of this principle?

My point is that the notion that one bishop cannot exercise any type of jurisdiction over another bishop undermines the Patriarchal structure of the Church, not just the notion of the papacy.

God bless,

Gordo

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