So here is the other thing, and I want to stress I'm just speaking out here as a lowly protestant so don't take this as an offense, but I don't understand why a Bishop oversees a diocese instead of just a single parish. Why is it necessary for a Bishop to be presiding over multiple parishes.First of all, Protestants have Bishops also, who preside over large areas. As the early Church grew, and there were multiple congregations, Bishops came to preside over a particular area. This is history.
To me a lot of the controversies and schisms seem like its a just argument over who controls what region.Perhaps in a few cases, but I don't know of any. Controversies and schisms generally have to do with theological beliefs or practices.
From my perspective, it seems like what is being practiced is more important than who is presiding. I don't understand this.
Ideally, all Christians would be under the same ecclesiastical system but, so long as we are all under the high priesthood of Christ. Of course. The One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, the Orthodox Church. All Christians were under the same ecclesiastical system for the first thousand or so years.
The problems I see with the RCC, for instance, is mainly political, so I don't see why they can't share communion with the Orthodox.Unfortunately, the RCC has departed from the faith once delivered to the Apostles. We don't believe the same things. Communion means unity of belief. If we don't believe the same things, we cannot be in communion.
(In fact, I think that might actually be the very thing that could heal the schism). I know that its more important to maintain the integrity of faith, but I sure think its an error to say that God doesn't want His Church united. Who has ever said that God doesn't want His Church united? We earnestly pray that all will repent and return to the True Faith.
I only know of bishops in the Anglican traditions. Most protestant churches utilize the Presbyterian structure.
When I've studied the Great Schism, I see probably more political controversy than theological. There is the filloque, and a few practical disagreements, but I would hardly consider those things merited such an immense severance. In any case, while I find Rome to be mostly at fault, I'm not under the impression that the EOC was blameless either. Though, to be fair, I wasn't there, so I don't know.
What I meant by "practice" is the Catholic services are fairly similar to Orthodox. Now, granted, being protestant I don't have a trained eye. But, seeing how both traditions are liturgical and sacramental and virtually have the same doctrines about them, the only really meaningful difference I see is that the Romans have the Pope.
The only ecclesiastical jurisdiction that matters, though, is God's. So, for me, it seems more important to be practicing good Christian faith, rather than to be under the jurisdiction of a certain kind of Bishop.
The RCC has the pope and the filloque, but I haven't heard about much else. I'm not a scholar on the subject, but when I explain the difference between EOC and RCC I can usually only think of the Pope and scholasticism v. mysticism. But, scholasticism, IMO, is not inherently heretical.
I've read a lot of negative things about ecumenicism from Orthodox. It seems like there's kind of a "take-it-or-leave-it" mentality. I understand the need to maintain integrity of the Faith, but I think there is sometimes a lack of trust in the Holy Spirit.
For a different perspective, I suggest that you read the agreed upon statements of the North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation, http://assemblyofbishops.org/ministries/dialogue/orthodox-catholic/.
The Orthodox participants make it clear that communion is the end product of any process of dialouge. This passage from a 2010 joint statement is interesting: " It seems to be no exaggeration, in fact, to say that the root obstacle preventing the Orthodox and Catholic Churches from growing steadily towards sacramental and practical unity has been, and continues to be, the role that the bishop of Rome plays in the worldwide Catholic communion.
While for Catholics, maintaining communion in faith and sacraments with the bishop of Rome is considered a necessary criterion for being considered Church in the full sense, for Orthodox, as well as for Protestants, it is precisely the pope’s historic claims to authority in teaching and Church life that are most at variance with the image of the Church presented to us in the New Testament and in early Christian writings. In the carefully understated words of Pope John Paul II, “the Catholic Church's conviction that in the ministry of the bishop of Rome she has preserved, in fidelity to the Apostolic Tradition and the faith of the Fathers, the visible sign and guarantor of unity, constitutes a difficulty for most other Christians, whose memory is marked by certain painful recollections” (Ut Unum Sint 88). " http://assemblyofbishops.org/news/scoba/towards-a-unified-church
But, 'What we Share' is worth noting as well, "4. What We Share. Despite disagreement on the place of the bishop of Rome in the worldwide cohesion of Christianity, however, it seems to us obvious that what we share, as Orthodox and Catholic Christians, significantly overshadows our differences. Both our Churches emphasize the continuity of apostolic teaching as the heart of our faith, received within the interpretive context of the historical Christian community. Both believe our life as Churches to be centered on the Divine Liturgy, and to be formed and nourished in each individual by the Word of God and the Church’s sacraments: baptism, the anointing with chrism, and the reception of the Eucharist mark, in each of our Churches, the entry of believers into the Body of Christ, while ordination by a bishop sets some of them apart for permanent sacramental ministry and leadership, and the marriage of a Christian man and woman within the liturgical community forms them into living signs of the union of Christ and the Church. Both our Churches recognize that “the Church of God exists where there is a community gathered together in the Eucharist, presided over, directly or through his presbyters, by a bishop legitimately ordained into the apostolic succession, teaching the faith received from the apostles, in communion with the other bishops and their Churches”
But in the end, " Conscience holds us back from celebrating our unity as complete in sacramental terms, until it is complete in faith, Church structure, and common action; but conscience also calls us to move beyond complacency in our divisions, in the power of the Spirit and in a longing for the fullness of Christ’s life-giving presence in our midst.
The challenge and the invitation to Orthodox and Catholic Christians, who understand themselves to be members of Christ’s Body precisely by sharing in the Eucharistic gifts and participating in the transforming life of the Holy Spirit, is now to see Christ authentically present in each other, and to find in those structures of leadership that have shaped our communities through the centuries a force to move us beyond disunity, mistrust, and competition, and towards that oneness in his Body, that obedience to his Spirit, that will reveal us as his disciples before the world. "
It's complicated, the relationship - or lack thereof - and the usual polemic or heated apologia don't do justice to the complexity of the issues which divide us.
Some Roman Catholics and Orthodox find solace in the large body of shared beliefs and understandings of the Church which our communions do possess; others in both camps find heresy and arrogance in the hardened positions taken by the 'others.' There is probably some truth in both points of view.....