Taking a break from our discussion on discernment, we read in UR 18 the council’s final thoughts on East-West ecumenism:
After taking all these factors into consideration, this Sacred Council solemnly repeats the declaration of previous Councils and Roman Pontiffs, that for the restoration or the maintenance of unity and communion it is necessary “to impose no burden beyond what is essential”.(Acts 15, 28.)
This is the guiding principle, by the way, of receiving believing Christians into the Catholic Church. “Every effort” should be expended toward unity with the Orthodox by three main ways: prayer, dialogue, and pastoral outreach.
It is the Council’s urgent desire that, in the various organizations and living activities of the Church, every effort should be made toward the gradual realization of this unity, especially by prayer, and by … dialogue on points of doctrine and the more pressing pastoral problems of our time. Similarly, the Council commends to the shepherds and faithful of the Catholic Church to develop closer relations with those who are no longer living in the East but are far from home, so that friendly collaboration with them may increase, in the spirit of love, to the exclusion of all feeling of rivalry or strife.
What a thought: reaching out to those in need or isolation and being friendly.
If this cause is wholeheartedly promoted, the Council hopes that the barrier dividing the Eastern Church and Western Church will be removed, and that at last there may be but the one dwelling, firmly established on Christ Jesus, the cornerstone, who will make both one.(Cf. CONC. FLORENTINUM, Sess. VI (1439), Definitio Laetentur caeli: Mansi 31 1026 E.)
Any thoughts on East-West relations?
The Eastern Church has its own rivalries within that make ecclesial reunion more difficult than the basic East-West issues discussed over the past 40 years. The Ecumenical Patriarch is truly a “first among equals” and has no authority over the other patriarchs. I don’t expect to see an East-West reunion in my lifetime.
This, Fr. Michael, is why prayer is the first means described as regards how to achieve unity. I suggest we start by praying for the Orthodox.
I also suggest a somewhat more charitable way of talking about Orthodox than has been customary among most Roman Catholics.
Finally, I suggest that Catholics (both Roman and Eastern) take a good and hard look at the behavior of Catholics from the 8th through the 12th centuries, and at the very least, try not repeating their mistakes.