Patriarch of Constantinople Proposes Eastern Catholicisms Return to Orthodoxy
- MunichIn a recent interview with the German ecumenical journal Cyril
and Methodius, the Patriarch of the Orthodox Church in Constantinople
Bartholomew I invited Eastern Catholic Churches to return to
Orthodoxy without breaking unity with Rome. He noted that "the
Constantinople Mother-Church keeps the door open for all its sons and
daughters." According to the Orthodox hierarch, the form of
coexistence of the Byzantine Church and the Roman Church in the 1st
century of Christianity should be used as a model of unity. This
story was posted by KATH.net on 16 June 2008.
At the same time, the patriarch made positive remarks about the idea
of "dual unity" proposed by the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic
Church, Archbishop Lubomyr (Husar). Patriarch Bartholomew I noted in
particular that this model would help to overcome the schism between
Orthodox leader suggests "dual unity" for Eastern Catholics
Constantinople, Jun. 19, 2008 (CWNews.com) - The Orthodox Patriarch
of Constantinople has responded favorably to a suggestion by the head
of the Ukrainian Catholic Church for a system of "dual unity" in
which Byzantine Catholic churches would be in full communion with
both Constantinople and Rome.
Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople welcomed the proposal in an
interview with the magazine Cyril and Methodius, the RISU news
service reports. The acknowledged leader of the Orthodox world
suggested that the "dual unity" approach would produce something akin
to the situation of the Christian world in the 1st millennium, before
the split between Rome and Constantinople.
Cardinal Lubomyr Husar of Kiev, the Major Archbishop of the Ukrainian
Catholic Church-- the largest of the Eastern Catholic churches-- had
offered the possibility that Byzantine Catholics might seek communion
with the Ecumenical Patriarchate, without giving up their communion
with the Holy See. Patriarch Bartholomew expressed distinct interest
in the idea, saying that "the mother Church in Constantinople holds
the doors open for the return of all her former sons and daughters."
Patriarch Bartholomew acknowledged that a restoration of unity would
require study, and important differences would have to be overcome.
However, he observed that major steps have already been taken to
resolve disagreements-- most importantly the revocation of the mutual
decrees of excommunication issued by Rome and Constantinople against
each other in 1054.
While Catholic and Orthodox theologians continue their efforts to
reach agreement on doctrinal questions, Patriarch Bartholomew
said, "the people at the grass roots have to come together again." He
pointed to the "dual unity" idea as a possible step toward practical
Cardinal Husar, the Ukrainian Catholic leader, has suggested in the
past that the Orthodox and Byzantine Catholics of Ukraine should
unite under the leadership of a single patriarch. That provocative
suggestion is particularly interesting for two reasons.
First, Byzantine Catholics in Ukraine argued for years-- particularly
since emerging vigorously from the shadow of Communist repression--
that the Ukrainian Catholic Church should be accorded the status of a
patriarchate. Both the late Pope John Paul II (bio - news) and Pope
Benedict XVI (bio - news) have expressed some sympathy for that
suggestion. The Byzantine-rite Ukrainian Catholic Church is
substantially larger than other Catholic churches that are recognized
as patriarchates, including the Maronite, Melkite, Chaldean, Syrian,
Armenian and Coptic Catholic churches. However, Kiev is not a
historical patriarchal see like Antioch or Alexandria. And the
recognition of a Ukrainian Catholic patriarchate would be sure to
provoke outrage from the Russian Orthodox Church, which has
complained frequently and bitterly about the activities of Byzantine
Catholics in Ukraine.
Second, the Orthodox Church in Ukraine is badly split, with three
different groups competing for recognition as leaders of the
Byzantine faithful. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church- Kiev Patriarchate
is led by Patriarch Filaret, who was once acknowledged by Moscow but
broke with the Russian Orthodox Church after Ukraine gained political
independence. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church- Moscow Patriarchate
retains ties to Russian Orthodoxy. The Autocephalous Orthodox Church
of Ukraine, smaller than the other two, has frequently sided with the
Kiev patriarchate in efforts to form a single, unified Orthodox
Church in Ukraine, independent from Moscow.