Author Topic: The Upcoming Visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the Ecumenical Patriarchate  (Read 1938 times)

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Offline pensateomnia

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Statement by the North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation On the Upcoming Visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the Ecumenical Patriarchate

November 1, 2006

The North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation joyfully anticipates the coming visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and his meeting with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on November 29 and 30, 2006. This meeting will coincide with the celebration of the feast of Saint Andrew, the First-Called Apostle, the Patriarchate’s Patron Saint. It will take place in Istanbul, ancient Constantinople, a historic crossroads of peoples, cultures and religions.

The meeting of Pope Benedict and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew will continue a tradition begun in 1964 when Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras met in Jerusalem, and later in Rome and Istanbul. Since that time, meetings of Popes and Ecumenical Patriarchs have become more regular but no less significant.

These meetings have both expressed and deepened the renewed relationship between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, which has been developing since the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) and the Pan-Orthodox Conferences (1961-1968). Since then, both churches have affirmed their desire to overcome historic differences through prayer, theological dialogue, and acts of reconciliation.

The meeting of Pope Benedict and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew will occur following the recent meeting of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church that took place in Belgrade from September 18 to 25, 2006. Our own North American Theological Consultation, begun in 1965, has now held its 71st meeting in Washington, DC, from October 26 to 28, 2006. Both consultations were established by the churches to examine the theological factors underlying our division and to recommend steps to heal it.

The Pope’s pilgrimage to the Ecumenical Patriarchate provides us with an opportunity to express our concern regarding the situation in which the Patriarchate finds itself today. From the fourth century, the Church of Constantinople has exercised a significant ministry in the life of the Church, especially in the East. This ministry has continued to our day, despite drastic changes in the political, demographic and religious context. Today the Ecumenical Patriarchate serves the pastoral needs of Orthodox Christians within its jurisdiction in Turkey and a number of other countries. In addition, it provides a point of unity among the autocephalous Orthodox Churches, and coordinates their common witness and service.

We are deeply concerned that the Ecumenical Patriarchate today is subject to severe restrictions placed upon it by the Turkish government. For example, by decisions reached in 1923 and 1970, the government imposed significant limitations on the election of the Ecumenical Patriarch. Even today, the Turkish state does not recognize the historic role that the Patriarch plays among Orthodox Christians outside Turkey. The Turkish government closed the Patriarchate’s Theological School on the island of Halki in 1971 and, in spite of numerous appeals from governmental and religious authorities, still does not allow it to reopen, severely limiting the Patriarchate’s ability to train candidates for the ministry. In addition, the Patriarchate has recently suffered the confiscation of a number of its churches and other properties by the government.

We very much regret these restrictions placed on the ministry of the Ecumenical Patriarchate both within Turkey and abroad. At the same time, we commend those Turkish government leaders and citizens who advocate greater human rights and religious toleration within the country. The visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the Ecumenical Patriarchate in late November will highlight once again the crucial role played by the Ecumenical Patriarchate for many centuries not only among the Orthodox Churches but also in the broader Christian world.

Both Pope Benedict XVI and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew have affirmed their desire to heal the division between our churches, and to contribute to healing the wounds of our societies. They have affirmed the need for Christians to be people of reconciliation and peace. They have called for mutual understanding among all faiths, and for the elimination of misunderstanding, prejudice and injustice wherever they may be found. We pray that the meeting of the Pope and the Ecumenical Patriarch will contribute to the unity of the churches and to the reconciliation of all peoples.

October 28, 2006
Saint Paul’s College
Washington, DC

The North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation is sponsored jointly by the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA), the Bishops' Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. Since its establishment in 1965, the Consultation has issued 22 agreed statements on various topics. All these texts are now available on the website of the USCCB at and on the SCOBA website at
But for I am a man not textueel I wol noght telle of textes neuer a deel. (Chaucer, The Manciple's Tale, 1.131)

Offline Pravoslavbob

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Re: The Upcoming Visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the Ecumenical Patriarchate
« Reply #1 on: November 02, 2006, 02:57:07 PM »
I think it's fine if they meet and talk, and try to understand each other better.  In the past, these talks have sometimes gone too far, IMHO.  For example, concelebrating the liturgy up until the Gospel reading.  This is just wrong, I think. 

How much talking can they do, though, before it just becomes social niceties or political manoeuvering?  From the Latin POV, it's frustrating to get the Orthodox Church as a whole to agree to things.  This is why things should go much slower. The Orthodox representatives at Balamand were really irresponsible, IMHO, to push things as far as they did without going to the other Orthodox Churches not represented, or even without getting more consultative work done.  Balamand was really disquieting to me.   It makes you think.  Here were all these Orthodox representatives agreeing to the "Sister Churches" concept.  From the Orthodox POV, that is just not on.  Period. 

From the Orthodox POV, the Latin Church should realize that the Orthodox will NEVER recognize Roman primacy in the way that Rome steadfastly holds to it.  So are they just looking for chinks in the Orthodox armour to see if we will?  Been there, done that.  Let's not do it again.

On the other hand, I know that many of the Latin bishops participating in the NAO-CTC really have had, up until recently, no clue about Orthodox ecclesial concepts, and may be slowly beginning to understand it.  So dialogue up to a point is good.  With all due respect to members of the Latin communion, how much discussion should take place before the Orthodox are just banging their heads against a wall?  I mean, there's plenty of scholarly stuff that has been written about Orthodox ecclesiology.  Can't these guys go the bookstore and get a few choice tomes and really try to understand them?  It seems to take FOREVER, from the Orthodox standpoint, for Rome to ever "get" stuff about the Eastern Church.  Is this just an inability to understand, or a kind of wilful position, a refusal to step out of a Western mindset and really acknowledge that the East thinks differently?  I know that there is some good will there on the Latin side.      I'm also not naive, and I know that there are many political game players who are well entrenched as Vatican power brokers.  Don't get me wrong, I know that the Orthodox can be really inappropriatley undiplomatic, but at least that lets people know where we stand.  With the Latin Church, I'm not always sure where she stands.

So........yeah.  Whatever.
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Offline lubeltri

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Re: The Upcoming Visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the Ecumenical Patriarchate
« Reply #2 on: November 02, 2006, 03:09:51 PM »
Don't forget that Western ignorance of the East is much reciprocated.

Offline Αριστοκλής

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Re: The Upcoming Visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the Ecumenical Patriarchate
« Reply #3 on: November 02, 2006, 09:54:05 PM »
Don't forget that Western ignorance of the East is much reciprocated.

Not to the same degree, my friend. Not even close.
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