Patmos 'a success'
From Desmond O'Grady in Rome
THE Catholic-Panorthodox meeting in Patmos and Rhodes which ended last week was a significant success. This is the judgement of a Catholic participant who said joint commissions for ongoing theological work were established and the pre-meeting polemics about Catholic uniates (Eastern-rite Catholics) did not wreck the meeting.
The Orthodox delegates issued a statement that the presence of uniates in the Catholic delegation did not imply Orthodox recognition of them. The Catholic delegation took notice of this unanimous statement without responding and the meeting then proceeded as planned.
It established a joint executive committee (eight Catholics and eight Orthodox) to oversee the work of three sub-commissions (each with four Catholic and four Orthodox members).
The sub-commissions will examine issues concerning the Eucharist, local Churches and the Trinity. They next meet at Easter and the next plenary meeting of the joint commission will be held within two years.
This may seem merely the start of interminable theological commissions. But the Catholic participant said the three subcommissions established will be examining two of the eight issues posed by the joint preparatory commission.
He added that if agreement is reached on the two questions under examination, the others could be handled at less than twoyearly intervals.
"The important thing is that despite the initial reserves of the Greek and Cyprus delegates "a cordial atmosphere was established,said the Catholic participant. "The meeting was positive. Catholic and Orthodox theological positions can be reconciled. More difficult will be to modify the attitudes formed during the sister-Churches' separation since 1054.
"The attitudes, based often on mutual, ignorance and prejudice, range from indifference to hostility. I would not worry about the length of time spent on theological discussions: what is essential is that Catholics and Orthodox are motivated by this joint venture to prepare themselves to see the other Church and its members in a new light".