Posted also in the comments section of the article:
The author of the article to which you object offered a thorough and sound critique of the event in question on the basis of Orthodox ecclesiology and provided many references and quotes from the saints, Fathers, councils, and Scriptures to demonstrate the Orthodox teaching regarding ecclesiology and schism. You criticize him for his “erroneous rejection of ‘fullness’ ecclesiology” and yet you do not explain what is this “fullness” ecclesiology, what is its basis, and why his rejection of this ecclesiology is “erroneous”.
The canons of St. Basil have been ratified by the Ecumenical Councils and are considered universal in authority within the Orthodox Church. St. Basil’s first canon states regarding those who go in schism,
“For although the ones who were the first to depart had been ordained by the Fathers and with the imposition of their hands they had obtained the gracious gift of the Spirit, yet after breaking away they became laymen, and had no authority either to baptize or to ordain anyone, nor could they impart the grace of the Spirit to others, after they themselves had forfeited it.”
Do you criticize St. Basil and the Fathers of the Ecumenical Councils as promoting “Orthodox sectarianism” by rejecting some undefined “fullness ecclesiology” of questionable origins? Does not St. Basil, along with all those quoted and referenced by this priest teach that Roman Catholicism is heretical and outside of the Church? If you claim that such statements are “selective”, can you provide statements from saints, fathers, and Councils that demonstrate your “ecclesiology of fullness”? Can you show that such views represent the consensus of the Fathers and are not simply the result of Latin influence and the teachings of Augustine?
You mention that “the priest is just as cliché.” If his comments were based on the teachings of the saints, Fathers, and Councils, have these sources not become “cliché” to you? A cliché is “a phrase or opinion that is overused and betrays a lack of original thought.” When we are discussing Orthodox ecclesiology, are we looking to come up with some original thought, some new idea of our own, or should we be looking to faithfully follow the consistent, universal, and unoriginal teachings of our saints, Fathers, and Councils regarding this subject? Furthermore, by describing the teachings of the saints, Fathers, and councils as “sectarian”, are you not calling the Orthodox Church a sect rather than the body of Christ?
This priest rightly objected to Patriarch Bartholomew’s characterization of the schism as resulting from “the dominance of human weakness and of impermanence of the will of the human intellect”, and the continuation of the schism being due to the “human element” dominating. Our saints, Fathers, and Councils have specifically stated that the schism was the result of Latin heresies and not because of “human weakness”. Is the Orthodox Church guided by the Holy Spirit or by the “human element”? Is our continued schism the result of a “dominance of human weakness” or Rome’s unwillingness to repent of their heretical teachings and return to the common faith of the first millennium?
You characterized the priest’s article as a “knee-jerk” reaction but this was actually the impression I have of your response. His explanation was thorough, with many quotes showing exactly what he objects to and on what basis, whereas you do not establish a basis for your objections nor do you offer a thorough critique of his arguments or sources. It appears as though you did not read the article but instead made a knee-jerk response with all kinds of unhelpful and unsubstantiated mischaracterizations (that he is burying his head in the sand and “flipping the bird” to the West, that he thinks the West is evil, that he is teaching sectarianism, etc.).
You are right that we should engage the non-Orthodox, but if we are to do so as Orthodox Christians we should be honest regarding Orthodox teachings and what must happen for union to occur. If we are discussing ecclesiology, we need to demonstrate, as this priest did, the basis of Orthodox ecclesiology by appealing to the writings of the saints, fathers, and Councils rather than looking to what some unauthoritative and controversial contemporary dialogue has produced. The idea that we should “mature beyond” the teachings of the Church is itself a sectarian idea that is unhelpful to any discussion on Orthodox ecclesiology.