The Pope and the Patriarche

Discussion in 'General discussion' started by andree, Jun 5, 2018.

  1. andree

    andree Well-Known Member

    Robert Moynihan has a wonderful report of a recent meeting between Pope Francis and the Moscow Patriarche in his letter of June 4, which I'm copying below. It sounds very encouraging for unity.
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    Monday, June 4, 2018


    "And before you I would like to reiterate — in a special way before you, my dear brother [referring to Russian Orthodox Metropolitan Hilarion, the leader of the group he was addressing], and before all of you — that the Catholic Church will never allow an attitude of division to arise from her people. We will never allow ourselves to do this, I do not want it. In Moscow — in Russia — there is only one Patriarchate: yours. We will not have another one." —Pope Francis, in Rome on May 30, greeting a delegation of Russian Orthodox led by Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev

    "We must continue to study theology, to clarify the points, but in the meantime let us walk together, let us not wait for these things to be resolved in order to walk, no." — Pope Francis, in the same May 30 greeting

    "The Catholic Church, the Catholic Churches must not get involved in internal matters of the Russian Orthodox Church, nor in political issues. This is my attitude, and the attitude of the Holy See today. And those who meddle do not obey the Holy See." —Pope Francis, in the same May 30 greeting

    (Below, Russian Orthodox St. Seraphim of Sarov, 1754-1833. According to pious tradition, St. Seraphim prayed kneeling on a rock each day for 1,000 days. In his greeting on May 30, Pope Francis said that each morning and each night he venerates a relic of the Russian Orthodox St. Seraphim which was given to him by Patriarch Kirill on February 12, 2016, when the two met for the first and only time in Havana, Cuba; link)

    [​IMG]

    "I would like to say something to you: when we met with the Patriarch, afterwards he sent me a relic of Saint Seraphim [of Sarov, a Russian Orthodox hermit saint from the early 1800s, regarded because of his simplicity and goodness as more or less the Russian St. Francis of Assisi.] I keep that relic on my nightstand, and at night, before going to bed, and in the morning, when I get up, I venerate it and pray for our unity." —Pope Francis, in the same May 30 greeting

    Strong Words from Pope Francis regarding the Russian Orthodox Church

    Pope Francis on May 30 made an important — and not sufficiently noted — statement on the ecclesial situation of the Orthodox Church in Russia and Ukraine.

    He made the statement in a brief greeting to a small delegation of Russian Orthodox headed by Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev, the "foreign minister" of the Russian Orthodox Church, on May 30 in Rome.

    (Hilarion with Pope Francis 6 days ago in Rome)

    [​IMG]

    In fact, the remarks are the strongest statement yet of the the Holy See's position on a matter of considerable importance: whether or not the Russian Orthodox believers in Ukraine should become a separate, "autocephalous" Orthodox Church — a matter of declared political importance to the government of Ukraine, and also of importance to the governments of Russia, the United States and the European Union.

    Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has said he hopes that an upcoming the Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul will "green-light" the granting of a tomos, an official Church document, on autocephaly to the Orthodox Church in Ukraine by the 1030th anniversary of the baptism of Kyivan Rus, which will be celebrated on July 28, 2018. (link)

    (Here, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and his family during an Orthodox religious service)

    [​IMG]

    "The victory is not only when Ukrainian land has been liberated," Poroshenko said. "The victory is when for the first time, more than 300 years, Ukraine has got a real chance to create a united local Orthodox Church and, most importantly, a Ukrainian Church."

    The president was speaking at a "Prayer for Peace in Ukraine" event at Almudena Cathedral, a Catholic church in Madrid, Spain. The Ukrainian community of Spain took part in the event, the Ukrainian presidential press service said.

    "And we are praying that by the 1030th anniversary of the baptism of Ukraine-Rus by the holy apostolic prince Volodymyr, the Lord will give us this tomos," Poroshenko said. "And I ask you, dear brothers and sisters, for your prayers. Because miracles are created with a common prayer."

    The president recalled that he had appealed to His Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew immediately after Easter, on April 9, during a visit to Istanbul.

    "I would be very happy to see this happen," Poroshenko added, expressing the conviction that Ukraine has won the right to have the united local Church. "And in the near future, I believe that we will succeed,"

    Clearly, this is a religious matter of global political importance.

    And Pope Francis, on this question, was saying that the Catholic Church will not get involved with internal matters of the Russian Orthodox Church — one third of whose dioceses and parishes are... inside Ukraine.

    So, implicitly, the Pope is saying the Catholic Church will not take a position on Ukrainian President Poroshenko's request to Greek Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to issue a "tomos" or judgment that the Orthodox Church in Ukraine is no longer under the Patriarchate of Moscow, but under a new, independent "Orthodox Patriarchate of Kiev," which Poroshenko supports because it would strengthen Ukrainian nationalism, diminishing Ukraine's traditional religious ties to, and dependence on, Russia.

    "The Catholic Church, the Catholic Churches must not get involved in internal matters of the Russian Orthodox Church, nor in political issues," the Pope said.

    And he added that those who seek to get involved in such matters "do not obey the Holy See."

    Let's look more closely at this remarkable text.

    "In a special way before you, my dear brother..."

    Here is the text in full (link) and (link):

    The following is the greeting the Holy Father Francis addressed to the delegation from the Patriarchate of Moscow, whom he received in the study of the Paul VI Hall before the general audience on Wednesday 30 May:

    Greeting of the Holy Father

    Thank you so much for your visit, and also for this meeting, which helps us so much to live our faith in unity and in the hope to walk together.

    I am happy to take the road of unity with you: the only road that promises us something certain, because the path of division leads us to war and destruction.

    [Note: in these lines, the Pope seems to be making an oblique reference to the fighting in eastern Ukraine, and perhaps even to the long history of tension and distrust between Orthodox and Catholics over any centuries.]

    And before you I would like to reiterate — in a special way before you, my dear brother, and before all of you — that the Catholic Church will never allow an attitude of division to arise from her people.

    [Note: Here the Pope directly addresses Hilarion as "my dear brother," and one sense that the words reflect prior conversations the two have had.]

    We will never allow ourselves to do this, I do not want it.

    [Note: This rhetoric — "I do not want it" — seems clearly not that of a Vatican staff person, writing a text for the Pope to read. These seem clearly to be the Pope's own words. He would not speak so personally in a text prepared by others.]
     
  2. andree

    andree Well-Known Member

    (letter continued)

    In Moscow — in Russia — there is only one Patriarchate: yours.

    [Note: Here the Pope begins to address the question of "one Patriarchate." This is a bit strange, since there has not really been any controversy over whether there should be more than one Patriarchate in Moscow, or in Russia. There has been no call for the establishment of a Catholic Patriarchate of Moscow. So why does the Pope raise the matter? It seems it may be an oblique reference to the controversy over the Patriarchate of Kiev, which currently does not, according to Orthodox tradition, exist (because Kiev is under Moscow). This is a present controversy: whether to erect another Patriarchate in Kiev, not in Moscow, for the Ukrainians. Is the Pope referring to this? It is not clear.]

    We will not have another one.

    [Note: for the same reasons as stated above, these words are not clear.]

    And when some Catholic faithful, be they laypeople, priests or bishops, raise the banner of Uniatism, which does not work anymore, and is over, then it causes me pain.

    [Note: Here the Pope is clearly speaking of Ukraine, not of Russia, for the phenomenon of "Uniatism" is a Ukrainian phenomenon, with its own special history — the "uniting" of formerly Orthodox Ukrainians and Russians especially in the western part of Ukraine with Rome, becoming Catholics, but keeping their eastern, Byzantine, Orthodox liturgy. The much-persecuted, long-suffering Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, suppressed under Stalin in 1946 (made illegal) is the chief representative of this "Uniatism." But why is the Pope referring to this now, suddenly? Evidently, if is on his mind, and it is on his mind, one might imagine, because he has been talking about this phenomenon with the man in front of him — Hilarion. Hilarion has made no secret of his conviction that "Uniatism" is not the correct path for a reunion between Orthodox and Catholics. So it is to be assumed that the matter was part of his private discussions with Pope Francis. And here, in public, Pope Francis is saying, more or less, "I agree" that Uniatism is not the path to be followed today toward Christian unity. But what is the path forward, then? The Pope is about to speak about that...]

    The Churches that are united in Rome must be respected, but Uniatism as a path of unity is not valid today.

    Instead it brings me comfort when I find this: the extended hand, the fraternal embrace, thinking together, and journeying.

    [Note: So this is the alternative path toward Church unity that the Pope favors.]

    Ecumenism is made by journeying.

    We walk.

    Some think — but this is not right — that there must first be doctrinal agreement, on all the points of division, and then the journey.

    [Note: Here he raises the understandable objection: how can we walk together when doctrinal disagreements still separate us?]

    This does not work for ecumenism, because we do not know when agreement will come.

    I once heard a man of the Church, a man of God, who said: “I know which day a doctrinal agreement will be signed.” They asked him: “When?” — “The day after the coming of Christ in glory.”

    [Note: And this is his answer: because, humanly speaking, we will never come to a complete and final doctrinal agreement until the end of the world, until the Lord's return, or rather, until after the Lord's return. So, practically speaking, we must set out now, if we are to make some progress, along a different path...]

    We must continue to study theology, to clarify the points, but in the meantime let us walk together, let us not wait for these things to be resolved in order to walk, no.

    [Note: So the advice is, to begin to walk together...]

    We journey together and also do this, but walking in love, in prayer; as in this example of the relics.

    [Note: And these are the things that walking companions do -- they pray for each other, they exchange gifts...]

    Prayer together, for each other, in dialogue.

    This is so good.

    The meeting with His Holiness Kirill was very good for me, I found a brother.

    [Note: He is referring back now to the meeting on February 12, 2016, in Havana, Cuba, at the airport, when for the first time ever a Roman Pope met with a Russian Orthodox Patriarch, in this case, with Patriarch Kirill.]

    And now, spiritually, we walk together.

    And a couple of words to finish.

    [Note: So, having said something about the unity of the Moscow Patriarchate, and then about walking together before doctrinal issues are resolved, Francis is minded to say two more things, "a couple of words to finish."]

    One on the respect of Catholics towards you, Russian Orthodox brothers: the Catholic Church, the Catholic Churches must not get involved in internal matters of the Russian Orthodox Church, nor in political issues.

    [Note: So he re-emphasizes something: that the Catholics, the Catholic Church and the Catholic Churches, "must not get involved in internal matters of the Russian Orthodox Church." This could not be clearer. Since the Russian Orthodox Church, canonically, is one-third in Ukraine, the Pope is saying that even in regard to those territories of their Church, Catholics "must not get involved" when at issue is something internal the Orthodoxy. He is saying "that is not our business."]

    This is my attitude, and the attitude of the Holy See today.

    [Note: So, he emphasizes this point.]

    And those who meddle do not obey the Holy See.

    [Note: And he re-emphasizes it...]

    This regards politics.

    [Note: And this is the punctuation point -- it is politics, not Christian faith...]

    The second thing: piety.

    [Note: So now he is wrapping up his remarks, and he turns toward something deeper, more personal...]

    It is important that we pray for each other, also in personal prayer.

    We know new brothers and sisters, and then there is also personal prayer.

    I would like to say something to you: when we met with the Patriarch, afterwards he sent me a relic of Saint Seraphim [of Sarov, a hermit saint regarded because of his simplicity and goodness as more or less the Russian St. Francis of Assisi.]

    I keep that relic on my nightstand, and at night, before going to bed, and in the morning, when I get up, I venerate it and pray for our unity.

    [Note: So we come to an end of this extraordinary greeting with a very personal, intimate details: the the Pope keeps a relic of St. Seraphim of Sarov on his night-table, and venerates it each night, and each morning, as he prays for unity between Catholics and Orthodox.]

    Thank you very much. Let us pray for each other. Let us bless each other. And let us go together. Thank you.
     

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