Page 2, 29th November 1963

29th November 1963
Page 2
Page 2, 29th November 1963 — Orthodox and Ottaviani

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Organisations: Catholic Church


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Orthodox and Ottaviani

MAY another Orthodox say how much he agrees with Mr. Harwood's letter, which you printed last Friday ?

It is indeed important that Catholics should realise that the present conduct of the so-called "progressive" party in their church, while it may well bring reunion between Catholics and Protestants neerer, can only serve, in the long run, es put reunion between Catholics and Orthodox very much further off.

We are, alas, kept apart by dogmatic disagreement; if the "progressives" come to dominate the Catholic church we shall also be parted by something even more intractable -a radical difference of basic theological principle.

An article which appeared in the Spring 193 number of Chrysostom. itself an account of an aeticle by Mgr. Basil Krivocheine. Russian (Moscow Patriarchate) Archbishop of Ftrussels. which had been published in the Flemish review De Maand in February. contained the following paragraph:

Mgr. Krivocheine has some interesting reflections on the "two tendencies" (which he characterises as "theological" and "pastoral") apparent during the [first] session. At first sight it might appear, he says. that the Orthodox sympathies would lie with the "pastoral" element, and certainly it is with this group that it is easier to make contact.

Rut in his view the Orthodox attitude is More subtle, for they are convinced (in common with many Roman Catholics) that there can be no healthy and deep spiritual life except on the baeis of orthodox dogma.

He also says that the Orthodox could not go along with some of the New Testament critics who are apparently influenced by the ideas of Formgeschichte.

In principle then. he believes that of these two tendencies the Orthodox would have more sympathy with the so-called "theological" element, and consider that if the Council avoids dogmatic issues it will not contribute to the advancement of Christian unity.

I am sure that the great majority of those Orthodox who long for reunion between our two churches would echo Mgr. Krivocheine's sentiments.

I hope you and your readers will forgive me it I add the rather brutal remark made to me recently by another Orthodox bishop, for it does frankly sum up the impression the council proceedings are making on some of us who are following them closely: "Otteviani's theology is bad, yes—but his opponents have no theology at all!"

I have just read The Times report of yesterday's debate on the draft decree on"ecumenism ". Of the five speeches reported by The Times, three those of Cardinals Ruttini, Tappouni, and Arriba y Castro—were "conservative": all three manifest clarity of thought, a readiness to realise that problems arc practical things which have to be dealt with, considerable pastoral concern, and fidelity to revealed truth as the speakers apprehend it real—as distinct from superficial—breadth of outlook, moreover, is prominent in those of Cardinals Ruffini and Tappouni.

The other two speeches reported were evidently what is called "progressive"; therappear to have consisted principally of highsounding platitudes under cover of which the speakers took refuge from the difficult issues before them. The contrast is typical— and depressing.

W. Jardine Crisbrooke

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