Extract: "...the Orthodox church has a structure different
than that of the Catholic Church, as we have no single universal primate.
... There must be no illusion that there is such a hierarch."Papal-primacy compromise out, Orthodox church official says
Catholic News Service (www.catholicnews.com
MOSCOW (CNS) - A Russian Orthodox official who represents his church on a Catholic-Orthodox commission said his church rules out any compromise on papal primacy
"Historically, the primacy of the bishop of Rome in the Christian church, from our point of view, was that of honor, not jurisdiction -- the jurisdiction of the pope of Rome was never applied to all the churches," said Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev of Vienna and Austria, who represents the Russian Orthodox Church on the International Commission for Theological Dialogue Between the Catholic Church and Orthodox Churches.
The commission is scheduled to meet in October in Ravenna, Italy, for the 10th plenary since its creation in 1979. After a six-year break, the 60-member commission reconvened in September to debate conciliarity and authority.
"There can be no compromise whatsoever" on papal primacy, Bishop Hilarion said in a May 28 interview with Russia's Interfax newsagency.
He added that "the aim of the theological dialogue is not at all to reach a compromise. For us, it is rather to identify the church's original view of primacy."
The Moscow Patriarchate was drafting its own document on primacy, which would help him "assert our official point of view" at future talks, said Bishop Hilarion.
"These are the questions around which principal problems will emerge," Bishop Hilarion said. "I protested and will continue to protest if such important theological and ecclesiological questions are put to the vote. What is at stake here is not to identify a majority or minority opinion, but to find the truth."
Bishop Hilarion also said the commission's composition failed to reflect "the actual distribution of powers and views in the Orthodox world," since each Orthodox church was represented by two members, despite its size.
"The millions-strong Russian church is represented in the commission by only two delegates, while any other Orthodox church, even if smaller numerically, is also represented by two delegates," he said. He added that the Orthodox co-chairman, a representative of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, should act as a moderator and not impose his views on others.
He added that Russian church leaders were against calls for Pope Benedict XVI and Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople to attend the Ravenna talks.
"When the pope of Rome and patriarch of Constantinople meet, the secular media, who have a poor knowledge of refinements of Orthodox ecclesiology, tend to present it as a meeting of the heads of the two churches – Catholic and Orthodox," said the bishop. "However, the Orthodox church has a structure different than that of the Catholic Church, as we have no single universal primate. ... There must be no illusion that there is such a hierarch."