The text has never been made public before now. It is in English, and can be read in its entirety on this page of www.chiesa
:> The Role of the Bishop of Rome in the Communion of the Church in the First Millennium
The international mixed commission for theological dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches started discussing this text in Paphos, on the island of Cyprus, from October 16-23, 2009.
It has started to examine the preaching of Peter and Paul in Rome, their martyrdom and the presence of their tombs in Rome, which for Irenaeus of Lyons confers preeminent authority on the apostolic Roman see.
From there, the discussion continued by examining the letter of Pope Clement to the Christians of Corinth, the testimony of St. Ignatius of Antioch, who identifies the Church of Rome as the one that "presides in charity," the role of popes Anicetus and Victor in the controversy surrounding the date of Easter, the positions of St. Cyprian of Carthage in the controversy over whether or not to rebaptize the "lapsi," meaning the Christians who had sacrificed to idols in order to save their lives.
The intention is to understand to what extent the form that the primacy of the bishop of Rome had in the first millennium can act as a model for a rediscovered unity between East and West in the third millennium of the Christian era.
In the middle, however, there has been a second millennium in which the primacy of the pope was interpreted and lived, in the West, in increasingly accentuated forms, far from the ones that the Churches of the East are willing to accept today.
And this will be the critical point of the discussion. But the delegations from the two sides are not afraid to face it. Benedict XVI himself said this last January 20, explaining in the general audience to the faithful the meaning of the week of prayer for Christian unity:
"With the Orthodox Churches, the international mixed commission for theological dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches has begun to study a crucial theme in the dialogue between Catholics and Orthodox: the role of the bishop of Rome in the communion of the Church in the first millennium, meaning the time in which the Christians of the East and West lived in full communion. This study will be extended afterward to the second millennium."
The next session already has a preset place, Vienna, and a date, from September 20-27, 2010.
For all these years, the head of the Catholic delegation has been Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the pontifical council for the promotion of Christian unity.
As head of the Orthodox delegation for years has been metropolitan of Pergamon Joannis Zizioulas, a theologian of recognized value and of great authority, the "mind" of ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I, and highly respected by pope Ratzinger, with whom he has a relationship of deep friendship.
Relations have also improved with the patriarch of Moscow. In Ravenna, the Russian delegates had abandoned the work because of a disagreement with the patriarch of Constantinople on whether or not to admit Orthodox representatives from the Church of Estonia, which is not recognized by Moscow.
But in Paphos, last October, the tear has been patched up. And now the patriarchate of Moscow has friendly relations with Rome as well. Proof of this came a few months ago, the publication by the patriarchate of a book with writings by Benedict XVI, an initiative without precedent in history.
The initiative will soon be reciprocated by Rome, with writings by patriarch Kirill collected in a volume published by Libreria Editrice Vaticana.
A meeting between the pope and the patriarch of Moscow is now also in the realm of possibility. Maybe sooner than one might think.