`No Orthodox would deny it!'
MR. ARCHDALE KING FURTHER COMMENTS ON PATRIARCH'S UNITY CALL TO HOLY FATHER
Three people in London, one an Orthodox Bishop, another a Catholic priest of an Eastern Rite, the third a Catholic lay. man and author of works on Eastern Christianity, were asked this week to comment on the Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople's recent friendly gesture to Pope Pius XII.
In our issue of May 31st we reported the Patriarch's desire, expressed through an article in his official organ, that the Pope initiate action towards the healing of the east-West schism.
• The actual Patriarch of Constantinople, Athenagoras I, nominal head of all Orthodox Churches, spent some years in the United States where he acquired a broad outlook on matters affecting Christendom as a whole. and where he made many friends among other Christian leaders.
Mr. Archdale King, author of liturgical and Eastern Rite books: " An extremely kindly message, but it does not take. us farther along the road to union. We ought to reciprocate the Patriarch's kindness nevertheless.
"Really, there is not much that separates us. It is the fact of the Papal definition of the dogmas of the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption that has irritated the Fast. Not the dogmas themselves. Ask a devout Orthodox, lover of Our I.ady as they all are, layman or cleric, to deny that Our Lady is body and soul in Heaven, that she was ever sinless and free from original stain, and he won't.
" Our logic and our inclination to define things, are disliked in the East. Apart from purely Christological doctrine where they are dogmatic, they prefer to leave the rest to pious opinion, universally held, but never defined as articles of Faith."
Fr. Ceslaus Sipovich, Doctor in Oriental Sciences, graduate of the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome, in charge of the ByeloRussian (Eastern Rite) Mission at Finchley, North London: Patriarch's sincerity: " The statement as reported in your columns has every mark of sincerity."
Western Response: " One would like to know more, and to penetrate the Patriarch's mind. I personally see more than kindness and courtesy in the statement. I see a remarkable frankness in it, and to those of us who pray for unity any gesture like this one on the part of the leaders on both sides is most encouraging."
Asked whether the statement could conjure up memories of the Council of Florence in the 13th century where for expediency the Orthodox Church, assailed at the time by Islam, sought union with the West in self defence, Fr. Sipovich remarked; " Possibly, but I would want to see proofs that the Patriarch fears Communism in this instance, and seeks unity as a means of defending his Church.
" His concern might be rather the frequently strange attitude of of Patriarch of MOSCOW, and the eternal friction caused by the attempted usurpation of jurisdiction abroad by the Russian Orthodox leaders. Can you imagine the Russian Patriarch making a similar gesture as that made by Athenagoras? The former is bitterly anti-Roman, and lives in Soviet thraldom, but at Constantinople they are in a free world."
Next Steps: " More persevering prayer should be undertaken now, official prayer by both West and East that the Patriarch's gesture may lead to action. Then some official approach by a responsible body of people of the East should follow.
Dr. James Virvos, Bishop of Apamela, Auxiliary to the Archbishop in charge of the Greek Orthodox in Western Europe, and for many years attached to St. Sophia's Cathedral, Bayswater, London:
" I do not know what is in the mind of the Patriarch of Constantinople in expressing the desire you report, but I can only restate the official attitude of our Church, which is this, that the door is ever open to reunion with Rome, on the understanding that a reunited Christendom accepts the religious status quo at the time of the separation, and that the Pope accepts no more than a position of President among Patriarchs who are his equal."