The clear lack of admission of error on Rome's part betrays the whole thing. The Pope needs to come out and say, "Wow, did we ever screw up. We have 1000 years of stuff to sift through, can you send some bishops over to help?"
I think, though, that you are jumping from step A to step D, skipping steps B and C. The point Devin is trying to make (if I understand correctly) is that we have to start somewhere. Of course the Pope is not going to come out and say that. How could he? He has over a billion faithful to shepherd, and coming out and saying, "okay, the RCC has been wrong for about the past 1000 years" could throw so many of their faithful into turmoil, how could they believe a word he (or we) says? Remember that, whether their beliefs are heretical or not, Catholics are just as devout in their faith as Orthodox are. How would you feel if the EP came out and said, "we're all wrong. We've got to repent and go back." Put aside that we are
the True Church, and just react as a faithful Orthodox who believes
we are the True Church (as they do). You would be devastated, angry, and might declare him corrupt and heretical! If that happens in the RCC to the Pope, what has been accomplished? Nothing.
If our Church is not requiring them to admit that error exists on the dogmatic level, then why are we talking? Because everything is going perfectly and our bishops are bored to death? The silence is deafening.
Respectfully, I think this is an assumption on your part. We cannot begin the process by outwardly demanding that they admit their errors just to have a conversation. We have a conversation, and when the opportunity arises, we state what we believe and what is required for unity. Just because the EP or any other bishops participating in the discussions haven't outwardly said, "They must admit their errors" right now doesn't mean that the Church doesn't require it. It just means we haven't gotten to that step yet.
And that is good on an individual level. But the Catholic Church, the collective organization, knows what we believe, and we know what they believe. Neither is alien to the other. To make an analogy, this is a person who grew up Orthodox, who left and became Catholic, and now wants to become Orthodox again (so we are told). As our beliefs have not changed, all they must do is repent of their heresies and come back. Yet Rome does not do this. It's all talk.
Rome may understand, but the billion or so faithful probably don't. The majority of them probably don't even know we exist. One step at a time. We become friends with and educate Rome. Rome educates the faithful. They come home. If Rome just declares it (which is one of the things that we constantly complain about-- Rome just declaring things to be true), it's a conversion on their part in name only. We have to guide Rome, Rome has to guide their faithful.
If they were doing this for the purpose of reunion, it would be completely one-sided in that way. But the Pope has never declared the Catholic Church's errors in any clear and systematic way. We have never required the Catholic Church to make any changes to their dogma to continue dialogue. This lack of preconditions and clear changes certainly does not indicate we believe they are in error.
I would have to disagree with that. The fact is that the Vatican has been releasing the Creed WITHOUT the filioque for a long time now. And in 2002, thanks to the Catholic-Orthodox dialogue here in America, the official conclusion WITH the Catholics was that, when they translate the Creed from now on, it will be ONLY from the original Greek, omitting the Filioque. That is, I think, a HUGE admission of error on their part, and is also a huge step toward them returning. And it would NOT have happened without the Ecumenical dialogues. How can anyone possibly say that that is not a huge step toward them returning, and that helping them to correct their error is heretical on our part? But now they have to educate their billion faithful. One issue at a time. One step at a time.
The fruitless discussion can only create familiarity, which may lead to an overlooking and explaining-away of our differences. Why take the chance? All our beliefs have been thoroughly explained in a million different ways. The only reason I can see for this kind of dialogue is to establish "understandings" about why our beliefs aren't so different after all.
Again, I'm afraid I would have to disagree. I think there is nothing whatsoever wrong with familiarity. Familiarity breeds understanding. We must be familiar for them to understand us. And we must understand them in order to minister to and lead them. As Fr. Chris says so often, we cannot logic people into the faith. We can only love them into it. How can we love someone into the faith that we aren't familiar with?
I also think that saying familiarity leads to overlooking and explaining-away is slippery slope logic. My very best friend in the whole world and I are two totally different people. We've been best friends for twenty-two years. She is not Orthodox. She's agnostic. She is quite familiar with what I believe, and I am quite familiar with what she believes. While I pray one day God might lead her home to Orthodoxy (that is up to Him to do, not me), I have never once compromised or sugar-coated my beliefs for the sake of peace or our friendship. I have never explained-away or overlooked. I've never had to, because we are friends. True friends.
Because all the bishops of the Church apostatized except for one. While the Holy Spirit will not let the Church fall into error as a whole, why even play with fire? A new Saint Mark would surely arise if needed to save the Church, but there is no need to be so rash as that. Let the Prodigal see the error of his own ways and return. There is no point rushing out to convince him; he will not listen. He must return on his own, in humility, and at that time, we must embrace him and return to him the honor he deserves.
But first he must say "Father, I have sinned."
Ah yes, but when the Father saw him on the horizon (before he admitted his error), did he not show compassion and go out to meet him? Isn't that what the Church is doing? Showing compassion and going out to meet them? Guiding them and helping them to find their way home?
I cannot even pretend to be a canon lawyer. I don't know how I would define it precisely. But I would like a definition which includes an excessive familiarity in an official capacity with non-Orthodox religions, and official dialogues about dogma undertaken without the intent (or stated possibility) of conversion.
Excessive familiarity is a heresy? Again, this is an assumption that there is something inherently wrong with being familiar with their beliefs.
I think the assumption that these dialogues are undertaken without the intent of conversion is just that... an assumption. I think the intent is obviously for the purposes of EVENTUAL conversion of the RCC. But EVENTUAL is the key word. It doesn't happen over night, and it has to take place one step at a time.
This is heresy because it implies that the non-Orthodox are on an equal footing as far as truthfulness of dogma. Why compare dogma if the other party is not willing to convert to ours? People can take a comparative religion course if they are interested in such things.
Again, assumptions. I see no implication that the non-Orthodox are on equal footing. I see only an attempt to find common ground as the starting point of a conversation about conversion.
If the Catholic Church openly indicated that their church is—or even may be—in grave error, and are entering into dialogue with the Orthodox Church—which has kept the Faith wholly intact—with the goal of correcting Rome's errors and establishing communion, I would be fine with that. The lack of any admission of dogmatic error on Rome's part is my main problem with it all. If they did that, I would be much more at ease.
I think, again, you are getting WAY ahead of yourself. I think that admission is beginning, but it has to be slow and steady to win the race. One foot in front of the other.
Also, to comment on the whole "two lung" or "branch" theory... If it's true that the EP said what Iconodule states (I have never read or heard him say that, so I can't say that it's true-- if Iconodule could produce something for us to read, I would be appreciative), I would say that there are a couple of ways that this could be interpreted. Again, I'd have to read it in context, but I would guess and say that what the EP meant was NOT that we are "two lungs" THEOLOGICALLY, but rather practically-- that we are the two largest "denominations" (for lack of a better word-- no, I don't believe we are a denomination, but outsiders DO) of Christianity on the planet, and that in the face of what's happening in our society (like the impending Islamic takeover of the planet), we have to work together, as partners, as brothers and sisters, as "two lungs." That, I can see merit in, and I think is true.
Just for the record, before I get attacked, I do NOT believe in the lung or branch theories THEOLOGICALLY. I believe that we are the True Church and that they are in error. But I make a distinction between the theology of the thing and the practicality that we are, indeed, the two largest forms of Christianity. Hope that's clear.