STRIKING instances from history of intercommunion among Catholics and Orthodox in Constantinople, Greece, and Asia Minor, and "tolerated by Rome", are revealed by Archbishop Anthony G. Vuccino, A.A., who up to 1952 was Latin Bishop of Corfu, in Greece.
They occurred in the 17th and 18th centuries, and he mentions them in his review, (printed in the French Catholic v •
daily, La Croix on February '
6 4), of a book just published
by Fr. Grigoriou, a Greek Catholic priest who edits Katholiki a weekly publication of Athens.
These revelations show that Orthodox Christians, with the approval of their Patriarch of Constantinople, were confessed and absolved by Catholic, Latin priests and received Communion at their hands.
There are no instances recorded of Catholics receiving the ministrations of Orthodox clergy.
Cases mentioned by Archbishop Vuccino include the following: Bellarmine's Catechism was taught to Orthodox pupils at the college of Saint-Benoit, in Constantinople; in Chios, the Latin Bishop and his clergy preached and offered Mass in Orthodox churches; Patriarch Neophyte (1611) authorised Jesuits to absolve his faithful; Orthodox deacons assisted at Mass sung by Fr. P. Goar, 0.P., and received Communion from him.
One Orthodox Bishop would offer incense from the window of his house as the annual outdoor procession of Corpus Christi passed by.
There were "mixed churches", serving both rites; at Corfu the Orthodox Archpriest concelebrated with Latin priests at the same altar in the Catholic Cathedral, on the occasion of the patronal feast held each year on January 19, feast of St. Spyridion; the ornate platform bearing the Blessed Sacrament at the Good Friday procession in Zante was carried by a Latin and an Orthodox Bishop.
Whenever Orthodox priests concelebrated with Latin clergy, the former made "memento" of the Pope; in 1653, Patriarch Joannice, of Constantinople. wrote to his Metropolitans of Trehizond and of New Caesarea, authorising Fr. Robert, 0.C., to offer Mass in their churches.
Archbishop Vuccino feels that "the centre of Catholicism exercised genuine tolerance in regard to such piactices, doubtless with the aim of making up for the spiritual deficiencies of the Orthodox clergy. and of creating a more brotherly atmosphere among Christians who breathed the same air and who were already united by so much".
The book he is commenting upon, says the Archbishop, is based on information culled from official and private Catholic sources.
The rule about communicatio in sacris was observed less rigorously in those centuries, says Archbishop Vuccino, and the separation of the Orthodox from Rome, which dates from the 11th century, was in practice not taken seriously in certain quarters.
The Archbishop continues: "Should we not ask ourselves whether, in view of these happenings, we have made progress in our relations with the Orthodox? If we had to choose between the situation of those days and that of now, which of the two would we prefer?"
Asked to comment on the above interesting revelations, Mr. Archdale King well-known authority and writer on Eastern Church matters, said: "I am not surprised. In those days we were more liberal, and not nearly so bitter as we have been since. Of course, schism has become crystallised now, and things were left so much in the air at that time. But it is very doubtful that the Orthodox would permit such instances now of communkatio in sacris. We Catholics cannot, of course".