Long, but with no alternative, the march of ecumenical dialogue
by NAT da Polis
The talks in Cyprus between Catholics and Orthodox, the first phase of post-Ravenna, were centred on the search for what unites and therefore on the examination of declarations made by Church figures of the first millennium, when the Church was united. The interdependence between collegiality and primacy.

Paphos (AsiaNews) - The work of the first phase of meetings post Ravenna 2007, between Orthodox and Catholics for the unity of two churches concluded in Paphos, Cyprus with a common assertion of willingness to go forward "at all costs”. In Ravenna, Catholics and Orthodox had signed a text which recognized that primacy and collegiality are interdependent concepts. For this reason, the primacy in the life of the Church at all levels - regional and universal - must always be seen and examined in the context of collegiality (synodal) and at the same time, the collegiate (the Synod) in the context of the primacy.

As was agreed in the Ravenna meeting, where, as rightly pointed out by the Catholic Bishop Dimitri Salachas for the first time after centuries of misunderstanding serious discussion about the unity of the two Churches began, the commission discussed the role of the Bishop of Rome in the first millennium based on a text prepared by the Joint Committee in October 2008 in Crete, Greece. The text, entitled "The Role of the Bishop of Rome in the Communion of the Church in the First Millennium " tries to address the attitudes of the personalities who marked the history of the Church of the first millennium, united at the time, and investigate it in light of the historical, social and cultural context of that period.

The reason for starting discussions with the examination of the status of the Church in the first millennium, as agreed by all, lies in the fact that  there is the intention of both sides to start from what historically unites the two Churches, in order to then come to a better understanding, in the socio-cultural historical context, of the reason for the division, despite the need for unity of the two Churches.

Of course the road is long, it was commented in Paphos, but there is the will of both sides to move forward at all costs, trying to soften the fears of those in their flock opposed to the prospect of unity. In the Orthodox world there are some areas that delight in their independence, however, characterized by a provincial culture, whereas in the Catholic world some sectors languish in a exaggerated dogmatic rationalism, which blocks a greater willingness to address the various issues. We suffer from an exaggerated Popery, a Catholic prelate revealed, at a time, he said, where even Benedict XVI himself often refers to the texts of the great fathers of the United Church. No small number in the ecumenical movement agree on the fact that in the management of Church affairs a more despotic rather than Episcopal notion has prevailed. Which is why we arrived at a catastrophic second millennium, with all its consequences for the universal Church.

In short, attempts are being made to address the nefarious second millennium - that of division and excommunication - as late as possible, by taking on the considerations of the great German physicist Max Planck, as maliciously observed in Cyprus, who maintained that new theories are accepted not because their creators accept them, but because new generations grow and are formed in these. In other words, time is the best doctor

And there were those who recalled the words spoken by the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I in Rome in 2004 during a meeting with a crowd of young people in the church of the Apostle Bartholomew on Tiber Island, organized by the Community of St. Egidio. Responding to their question as to when there will finally be unity between the two Churches, Bartholomew said, to resounding applause, that "if unity depends on us priests the road will be long. But it will be you, the faithful of the Church who will force us to speed up the process”.

The Joint Commission, finally, has announced the next round of discussion and correction of the text of Crete, for September (20-27) 2010 in Vienna. It will be organised by Cardinal Christoph Schönborn