Does Moscow Want to Play Nice?

Here’s a bit of news from the recent Synod of the Moscow Patriarchate. (H/T Byzantine Texas)

Assessing the results of His Holiness’s meeting with Pope Francis of Rome, which took part during his visit and which resulted in signing a Joint Statement, the Holy Synod made special reference to the leaders’ statement that “the past method of ‘uniatism’ understood as the union of one community to the other, separating it from its Church, is not the way to re–establish unity”.

At the same time, the Holy Synod expressed regret at the reaction of the leaders of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church to these words and the statement as a whole.

The Holy Synod stressed that unia remains a running sore in the Orthodox-Catholic relations and supported the call to reconciliation between the Orthodox and the Greek Catholics in Ukraine and to a search for mutually acceptable forms of co-existence voiced in the statement of the Patriarch of Moscow and the Pope of Rome.

Well, it could have been worse. The second paragraph quoted above is confusing since the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC) made no concrete statement supporting the past method of “uniatism,” nor did it condemn the so-called “Havana Declaration” between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill in toto. What the UGCC — and specifically His Beatitude Patriarch Sviatoslav — did do was point out certain problems with the “Havana Declaration” while also expressing regret that the Ukrainian Church itself was not consulted on the contents of the declaration.



  1. Dale
    April 27, 2016

    As I have mentioned before the only real aims of Moscow’s participation in any ecumenical conversations with Rome is that they really think that Rome will force the Ukrainian Greek Catholics to submit to them.

    And as I posted once before, there is really very little hope for any type of real ecumenical discussion between Rome and Eastern Orthodoxy. Rome has been moving more and more into the orbit of liberal Protestantism, both liturgically as well as theologically since the 1960’s and further and further away from the Orthodox. I really also fail to understand why Rome is also pretending that these conversations can lead anywhere. I understand Moscow’s agenda, but fail to really understand Rome’s. Besides adopting a more and more protestant inspired liturgy (and Liturgy is very important to the Orthodox) the pronouncement of the infallibility of the Pope as a personal charisma in 1870 is simply a stumbling block that cannot really be worked around. if Moscow is unwilling to accept even Constantinople’s pathetic attempt at a semi-universal jurisdiction, why would they ever be willing to accept Rome’s demand that only Rome has universal jurisdiction?

    1. Ryan
      April 28, 2016

      Rescinding the decrees of Vatican I would be a step too far, but I think some in Rome have been scrambling to explain them to mean anything other than what they say. Basically, make papal infallibility/ supremacy a dead letter but without actually saying so. I don’t think anyone’s buying it but I do see the attempt being made.

      1. Dale
        April 28, 2016

        This has indeed been my experience with the new theories coming out in an attempt to downgrade the infallibility of the Pope as a personal charisma. This invention of a so-called Magisterium is one such attempt, but no such animal is ever mentioned in Vatican I; and it appears to limit the church to only the clerical caste. Recently I have even heard a very Orthodox understanding that the Pope’s infallibility is simply the expression of the infallibility of the Church as represented by the people of God, but this is in direct contradiction to the actual pronouncement of Vatican I, which declares that the Pope’s infallibility does not “depend upon the consent of the Church.” It all appears rather dishonest. But I do not believe, other than admitting that the whole of Vatican I was in error, there is now any way to dogmatically back-track from the Council.

        Regardless of how one may feel about the dis-ingenuousness of Moscow’s use of the ecumenical movement, the whole thing is set-up for failure since no one in Orthodoxy, or just about anyplace else, is going to accept universal jurisdiction and infallibility of the Pope as a personal charisma.

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