Category Archives: OTSA Special Project on the Holy and Great Council

Relations of the Orthodox Church with Other Christians and Their Communities

by Edith M. Humphrey, Very Rev. Maxym Lysack,  Bradley Nassif, Rev. Dr. Anthony Roeber, and Rev. Dr. Theodore Stylianopoulos

As recognized in the Chambésy pre-conciliar document, relations between the Orthodox Church and other Christians are challenging and complex. They are challenging because of the variegated groups which we engage, and because Orthodox variously assess ecumenical endeavors, some fearing that dialogue relativizes Orthodox claims. They are complex, because they involve several actions:  witness to the historic Church, bilateral discussion for mutual understanding, and involvement in common causes.

The Orthodox Church’s ecumenical mission flows from her responsibility to preserve unity (as expressed in the Scriptures, Ecumenical Councils, Liturgy and Fathers), and is based on the apostolic faith and the Church’s sacramental communion. While it is important to invite non-Christians to embrace the truth, there are also patterns for approaching those who already know something of God’s work.  Continue Reading…

Orthodox-Catholic Dialogue

by Very Rev. Dr. Harry Linsinbigler

Scripture describes ecclesial division as harmful to Christ’s flock, and something that requires correction (1 Cor. 1.10-13; 12.25). The continued absence of full communion between the Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church–each comprised of local Churches that together in the first millennium formed a single communion of Christ’s Holy Body–is a sorrowful reality that inhibits a united Christian witness to the world.  The non-Christian world, however, does not have to look far to find Christian writers “satisfied” with the status quo.

The Church itself, however, has not been satisfied with the detached communion of hundreds of millions of Orthodox and Catholic Christians. While some who oppose the dialogue might point to various synodical documents of the 19th century to support their viewpoint, they cannot ignore the parts of those documents that actually support the dialogue. Continue Reading…

Relations of the Orthodox Church with “Uniates”

A Plea for Removing One More Skandalon in an Increasingly Scandalized World

by Very Rev. Dr. Peter Galadza

Allow me to begin by suggesting that today’s “new circumstances and challenges” referenced in the Draft Document “Relations of the Orthodox Church with the Rest of the Christian World” (par. 24) require a radical kenosis among Christians. The rapid rejection of Christ’s truth in the West, and the equally widespread secularization of the educated classes in the East, demand a new commitment to “modeling the new man in Christ” (cf. par. 23).  This “new man in Christ” blesses those who curse him and does good to those who hate him (cf. Mathew 5:44). This kind of love shatters secularism’s self-assuredness.

In 1987, the Primate of the Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Church, Cardinal Myroslav Ivan Lubachivsky, publicly asked forgiveness of the Russian Orthodox Church in the following words: “Following the Spirit of Christ, we extend our hand of forgiveness, reconciliation and love to the Russian nation and the Moscow Patriarchate. We repeat the words of Christ that we spoke during our act of reconciliation with the Polish nation: ‘Forgive us, as we forgive’ (Matthew 6:12).” Unfortunately, this gesture has remained unanswered to the present day. Can Orthodox and “Uniates” not begin a new era of relations by having their Protohierarchs send – and respond to – such letters on a regular basis?   Continue Reading…

Response to the Pre-Conciliar Document on Relations of the Orthodox Church with the Rest of the Christian World

by Fotios Apostolos, Rev. Dr. Radu Bordeianu, Paul Ladouceur, Very Rev. Dr. Harry Linsinbigler, and Edward Siecienski

We have joyfully received the text of the Pre-Conciliar document on Relations of the Orthodox Church with the Rest of the Christian World and the invitation to comment on it, in the spirit of Orthodox conciliarity. We applaud it for its bold statements, which include: defining the goal of dialogue as the complete restoration of unity in true faith and love (12), recognizing that not all differences are equal and the existence of a certain “hierarchy of challenges” (12), referring to other Christian communities as “Churches” (6, 16, 20), the censure of those who would break the unity of the Church under the pretext of defending Orthodoxy (22), and the continued participation of all Orthodox Churches in the Ecumenical Movement (7) consistent with the apostolic faith and our tradition (4). We would like to focus here on the relationship between the Church of Christ, the Orthodox Church, and the other Churches, as well as its implications for the ecumenical dialogue.   Continue Reading…