There is great need to evangelize the world and to bring non-Catholics back into the fold. I am grateful that my Church is not as legalistic as the EO Church.
With all due respect, your statements are problematic, and when we examine the problems, we can understand the Jerusalem Patriarch's position.
I often find such quizzical statements
from well-meaning Catholic friends and pastors, that have the premise that Catholic and Orthodox are the same, and that therefore when Catholic Church makes an advance, then I must naturally of course be completely pleased with it.Like today, a Catholic friend told me about
how we are going to be one church. Well, of course, I am happy about that. It is my hope too. Then she mentioned about how the Pope was in England recently and gave a blessing to everyone. Well, that sounds nice. I asked her what she meant was special about it. And she said that it was a blessing for the English who had left the church of England to rejoin the Catholic church.
Now based on the premise that Catholics and Orthodox are really the same church, there would be an assumption that therefore I must be very happy to see Anglicans go back under the Pope of Rome. For me, well, it's nice, since the Pope was their Patriarch originally, but neither church is in full communion with us, so the presumption and the statement seem quizzical to me.Now let me give a similar example with the issue of praying together:
At a Catholic chapel service I visited last year the speaker announced a prayer that all former Catholics would return to the Catholic fold. The sense was in a benevolent way.
And yet how am I as an Orthodox supposed to feel about such a statement? I can't agree, because many Catholics have become Orthodox. I wish to participate in the service, and yet when the service is viewed as one whole that also includes parts, it can turn out that some parts are against my church. So do I put my soul into the service and feel a complete spiritual bonding with the whole service?
The speaker in the service might like it, and you might be ok with it, and the sense of the service would be such. But it's not possible since completely putting my soul into the whole service would go against my church. I don't think an Orthodox can do this as an Orthodox.Or should I try to keep my vigilance and watch up for such prayers that contradict my church, which I wouldn't pray?
This would be your answer I expect. It is the answer of ecumenists, of traditional Protestants, of Catholics. It's my answer, and it's the answer of many if not most Orthodox, including the Ecumenical Patriarch.
And when you really think about it, the News Announcement tends favorably in this direction, because while it says there isn't ecumenism in the Jerusalem Patriarchate, it still describes a somewhat ecumenical event, with Christians praying together and/or being together, as here, for example, I expect the nonOrthodox will pray at the Orthodox service.
But still, a church service that one puts one's soul into shouldn't have such a need for vigilance. And even normal services with Catholics could require such vigilance, because there are at least a few places in the service we may differ over.Or should I just show up without participating or not show up at all?
This is the view apparently of the Jerusalem Patriarchate. It is a conservative jurisdiction, which was in communion with the pro-Tsarist Old Calendar ROCOR at a time few other canonical Orthodox churches were. It still uses the Old Julian Calendar.
And as some on the board pointed out here, it apparently was following a church tradition that it had shared with the Roman Catholic Church in the middle ages.We should view the Jerusalem Patriarchate's shyness toward ecumenical prayer with understanding and sympathy, even if we might take a more ecumenical approach, since a full ecumenical approach also has its difficulties and problems especially regarding the RC church.
Ecumenism with the RC church is in one way the most dangerous, even if we are the closest of any Christian groups. The reason is that the RC church considers its leader to be the Supreme Ruler
(Pontifex Maximus), for whom all the leaders of all other Churches would be merely subjects who fully submit to his commands and positions on faith.
The danger is that when Christians view themselves as simply one and act togather, then the danger is that the idea can spread, perhaps by implication, about the Supreme Ruler's
position as regards other Christians. And after all, the RC Church is the biggest of any denomination. So the Supreme Ruler's ideas and commands can seem to somehow carry more weight in discussions than other Churches'.
So I look forward to and hope for a future reunification, while meanwhile having dialogue and fraternity with Catholics. But from the one purely practical point of view regarding the Supreme Ruler's position, it is easier to have ecumenism with, say, Bahais than with the RC church.
So there is a hope and a benefit, but also a risk and a problem.