Page 4, 20th July 1979

20th July 1979
Page 4
Page 4, 20th July 1979 — Catholic ignorance of the Orthodox Church

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Catholic ignorance of the Orthodox Church

In you leading article (July 13) you say "undoubtedly, the Christian community must be made one again — that is what the Spirit is saying and ... what the people are saying too".

We frequently read in you columns about Anglicans and Free Church differences but rarely, if ever. do we find mention of our relationship with the millions of fellow Christians who belong to the Eastern Orthodox Church.

For a thousand years we were all united in one catholic church (it was their name for it) and they have never altered their doctrines — and their orders and sacraments remain valid to this day, It would seem. therefore, that if we are seeking unity in the Christian community, we should •begin here where we have no differences of interpretation or meaning of the essentials. Our move towards unity can begin yards ahead, so to speak, of talks with Anglicans os Methodists with whom we appear to have a variety of essential differences to be settled before we come up level with the position held by the Orthodox today.

Yet the ignorance of the average Roman Catholic of the Orthodox Church is almost total, an ignorance which the Catholic press as a whole does little to alleviate. We do not have articles from Orthodox writers: we do not have information regarding the great mystics of the Eastern Church and we have little information as to how the moves towards unity are progressing. There seems to be a conspiracy of silence surrounding our fellow Christians at the eastern half of the Mediterranean whose churches — often apostolically founded — stand on soil where our Christian faith was born.

Charles H. Morris, Kendal, Cumbria.

The latest warning by Dr Robert Runcie, Bishop of St Albans, which your report (June 29) about the damaging effect on AnglicanOrthodox relations caused by the ordination of women in the Anglican Communion is in sharp contrast to the stance adopted by the Anglican-RC International Commission in its latest publication Elucidations.

Dr Runcie. who is co-chairman of the Anglican-Orthodox Joint Doctrinal Commission, is quite right in his assessment of this new barrier to doctrinal agreement, His warning is also very timely for Catholics now that the official theological dialogue between Rome and the Orthodox is about to open.

ARCIC declares (Elucidations, para 15) that it believes that the principles upon which its doctrinal agreement rests (in its ,-tereiel Statements on Ministry and Ordination) are not affected by such ordinations; for it was concerned with the origin and nature of the ordained ministry and not–with the question who can or cannot be ordained." This strange assertion that eligibility to receive a sacrament of the Church has nothing to do with the origin and nature of the sacrament is apparently made in order to enable ARCIC to call for a reappraisal by Rome of the verdict on Anglican Orders in Apacrolicne Carat, (1896).

It seems incomprehensible that ARCIC is unaware that if Rome were to revoke today the 1896 decision and to declare now that Anglican orders are valid. this would have the effect of giving official recognition by Rome to "women priests" and, indeed, also its approval for women bishops and a woman successor to St Peter. The lack of realism which is increasingly apparent in A RCIC's earnest wishfulthinking evidently has obscured the fact that it is not possible to turn the cletek back to 1896 in order to "reappraise" the question of validity and that Anglicans put aside preoccupation with the 18% aspects of validity forty years ago.

If ARCIC wants Rome to approve the ordination of women to the priesthood why is it not thi% issue which it is asking Rome to reconsider'? 11, on the other hand, the "validity" question has been raised because the 18% verdict is seen as offensive to Anglicans, and so as a hindrance in growth towards unity. then why has ARCIC not asked Canterbury to review. those affirmations in the 39 Articles which are offensive to Catholics'?

In 1965 when the Anathemas which formalised the schism of 1054 between Rome and the Orthodox were solemnly revoked, this was done by mutual agreement and simultaneously in Rome and Constantinople. If such reciprocity is not yet possible between Home and the Anglicans then neither is inter-communion. Moreover, in the present state of the Anglican ministry the implications of a decision by Rome to revoke Apostalicae Curae would have a disastrous effect on progress in the Orthodox-Catholic theological dialogue.

II. E. Georgiadis London, NW10.

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