Christ prayed that all of his disciples would be one, and because of this prayer, it was a horrible scandal that a large part of the Eastern Christian world broke from the Western one in 1054. Attempts were made to reconcile the two churches, and while some progress was positive, the nature of tools available, human nature, bad communications, lack of oversight, and with no way to mitigate the poisonous influence of nationalistic political aspirations, of which was veritably at the heart of the Schism beyond theological issues of emphasis, made this much harder.
However, times have changed, sometimes for the worse, but also for the better. According to a recent statement from the Greek Orthodox Patriarch, he said that reunion with Rome was “inevitable”.
According to a new report from the Union of Orthodox Journalists, during his trip to Mt. Athos the previous month, Pat. Bartholomew attempted to convince several Athonite abbots and monks that there are no dogmatic differences between Orthodoxy and Catholicism, and that reunion with the Catholic church is inevitable.
Pat. Bartholomew expressed his personal convictions during a private talk at Pantocrator Monastery with the brethren and guests of the monastery, including other Athonite abbots. Eyewitnesses report that Pat. Bartholomew’s security did not allow anyone to record the conversation.
In his opinion, the division that now exists between Orthodoxy and Catholicism is merely a matter of historical events, not dogmatic differences.
Catholics “are just as Christian as we are,” Pat. Bartholomew emphasized, adding that the recent gift of the relics of St. Peter from Pope Francis is proof of the Catholic church’s nearness to Orthodoxy.
According to the UOJ’s sources, Pantocrator abbot Archimandrite Gabriel, Xenophontos abbot Archimandrite Alexios, Vatopedia abbot Archimandrite Ephraim, the brethren of several monasteries, and other guests were all present for the talk.
Most of the brethren were at a loss, hearing Pat. Bartholomew’s ecumenistic arguments, though none present objected. Some of those present reportedly began to weep when Pat. Bartholomew said that reunion with the Catholic church is inevitable.
Recall that Xenophontos and Pantocrator Monasteries have been the most receptive to the Ukrainian schismatics. Abbot Alexios of Xenophontos concelebrated in the enthronement of Epiphany Dumenko as primate of the OCU, and Pantocrator was the first monastery where schismatics served Liturgy on Mt. Athos.
At a recent meeting in Constantinople with representatives of Tbilisi University, Pat. Bartholomew said that dialogue with other Christians, especially Catholics, is one of the priorities of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. (source)
This is an excellent and good thing, for two brothers- Peter and Andrew -have no need to fight with each other as they have for almost an entire millennium.
This comes at a time when in spite of bold proclamations by the East, her health is as bad as and possibly worse than in the West.
There is no secret as to the western problems in the Catholic Church. One does not need even secular sources to see this, for there are hosts of Catholic websites dedicated to this, even questionable ones such as Church Militant. But far from being a curse, this is a great blessing, for seeing the rot in the Church is an opportunity to repair it. It is the same phenomenon with Ham and Japheth, for what Ham does in public, Japheth does in secret.
I have written about the issues with the Orthodox before, and they are much the same as with the Catholic Church except that one does not truly know the fully extent because there has really been no full investigation into the problems by Eastern Orthodox Christians, but the few who have come out exposing what little they bring indicate similar problems of rampant sodomy, abuse, and as Shoebat.com pointed out, the existence of occultism and overlaps with various military intelligence agencies that bring many problems.
The Russian Orthodox (ROC) right now are in a very interesting position because while they are the “largest” Orthodox Church in terms of size (even though their actual numbers are unknown because for many, religion is synonymous with nationalism), the split in Ukraine and the support of Ukraine by the Greeks and many others in the Orthodox world have effectively reduced the size of the ROC and her influence as well as has isolated her largely in what is nothing less than a second “Great Schism”, except this time it is Russia who is isolated along with nominal support from the Serbs.
People may say that the “Roman Catholic Church” is “done”, but the fact is that Christ promised in Sacred Scripture that the Church would never be destroyed as Christ would see that, in the word’s of Matthew’s Gospel, the “gates of the netherworld” would not prevail over her. This certainly does not mean they would not occupy, wound, or beat her within a dog’s hair width of her life, but that she would persevere. This grace was not granted to any of the other apostles save for Peter.
The European Catholic world is largely dead, and what exists is poisoned greatly by nationalism. There are problems all around the world, but these appear to be even more problematic with the Orthodox, who while arguing theology before the public are ignoring the mass exodus from their ranks with none to fill the difference. When the Europeans left the Church it was the Latin Americans who came, and even as some of those have left it has been sub-Saharan Africans, east Asians, Indians, and increasingly people from the Muslim lands who have come into her, representing all of the lands, languages, races, faces, governments, and ideas that are the diversity of the human race, and all under the Church suffering on the pilgrimage to Heaven. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the Orthodox Church, whose churches are largely tied to the political domains of their nations in which they reside, and with the decline of their own people have also diminished in size as well as political influence.
The issue here is not one of who is “better”, but one of Sacred Scripture. Either the the Church that St. Peter founded was the (scripturally speaking) one that the gate of hell would not prevail over, or it is not. There can be no other way around this question, and while history’s story speaks for itself, the survival and growth of the Church around the world, to every race and tongue of men, even amid crushing scandals that are difficult to describe (for there is not a problem in the human race that has not found her way directly into the Church) is her testimony of the promise given to her.
May all of the Churches- regardless of denomination -find their way back to perfect apostolic union in accordance with that which was designated by Christ, and that all in doing so would continue to as well as help each other with renouncing all philosophical heresies that attempt to reduce, equivocate, or subjugate the moral authority of the Church to any government, for rulers are made for men, not men for rulers.