This policy of return and uniformity was predominant in the Catholic and Orthodox churches until the middle of the 20th century. In the Catholic Church return and uniformity were emphasized particularly after the Protestant Reformation. Unity was simply full communion with the church presided over by the bishop of Rome, outside of which there was no church and little chance of salvation. Thus full communion with Rome, individual or national, was encouraged, even as the ideal of universal communion began to be considered unattainable.
The actions of three early 20th-century popes Leo XIII, who encouraged the Eastern Catholic churches to restore and renew their own traditions while taking a more determined role in the life of the entire Catholic Church; Benedict XV, who established the Pontifical Oriental Institute and the Sacred Congregation for the Eastern Churches (both in 1917); and Pius XI, who encouraged the formation of Eastern Catholic communities with their proper hierarchies while genuine in their respect for the Orthodox were nevertheless based on the notion that the Orthodox had to return to Catholic communion. This remained the official policy of the Catholic Church under Pius XII.
In 1896, Ecumenical Patriarch Anthimos VII replied harshly to a letter on unity by Leo XIII, reiterating an Orthodox theme that to effect unity the popes must renounce the papacy and all the innovations of the second millennium (the introduction of the filioque and the son in the Nicene Creed papal infallibility and the doctrines of the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption of the Virgin Mary). Even as the Orthodox began to participate in the ecumenical movement in the 1920s, this did not include dialogue with the Church of Rome. Public protests continued against the activities even the existence of the Eastern Catholic churches, dubbed uniates. Old-style polemical books continued to be printed or reprinted and, in some Orthodox churches, rebaptism of Catholics continued.
Nonetheless, certain openings took place during this time. The Benedictine abbeyof Amay, now Chevetogne in Belgium, was a pioneer. Theologians from Germany and France developed contacts with Orthodox theologians in Greece, Romania and Western Europe. And Catholic postwar social programs in Europe for the large number of Soviet-bloc Orthodox refugees slowly created a climate of trust and willingness. Ground was being prepared for a flowering of ideas that would lead to the renewed and reformed ecclesiology of Vatican II (1962-65).
A new ecumenical mentality. A distinct change between Catholics and Orthodox began with the pontificate of John XXIII and his calling of a council. One of the declared objectives of Vatican II was to seek ways toward the unity of Christians. Not many people, however, understood what the pope meant; even his understanding of Christian unity developed as preparations for the council went forward.
Post a Comment |
Tags: Christianity Orthodox Church Eastern Christianity