The Priesthood and Marriage
As rumors swirl, the Vatican issues an unusual clarification
By Robert Moynihan, reporting from Rome
On Anglicans and a Celibate Priesthood
Over recent days, the Italian press ran with speculation (quickly picked up by Anglophone media) that the delay in the Apostolic Constitution which’ll set up “personal ordinariates” for Tiber-swimming Anglicans owed itself to a “debate” regarding how the celibacy requirement would be handled for married converts who wished to enter formation for the Catholic priesthood.
Here is a story on the matter from the Times of London.
Vatican row delays Anglo-Catholic text
According to a report in The Times, the Pope is said to have wanted to wait until the text was finalised before making an announcement
A row has broken out behind the Vatican walls over the ‘confusion’ surrounding Pope Benedict XVI’s opening to disaffected Anglicans, according to a papal biographer.
Andrea Tornielli, the biographer of several modern Popes including Pope Benedict, said that just over a week after its existence was revealed by the Vatican, the text of the Apostolic Constitution laying down the conditions for the creation of a new ‘Anglo-Catholic’ section of the Church was still not ready for publication.
This was not because of translation problems but ‘something more serious’, Mr Tornielli said. There was still debate behind the scenes over priestly celibacy, the ‘most sensitive point for public opinion’.
When asked last week about admission into the Catholic Church of married Anglican priests under the new rules, Cardinal William Levada, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, replied that requests would be judged ‘on a case by case basis’.
It was left unclear however whether Anglican seminarians who were either married or who wished to get married before being ordained would also be admitted to the Catholic Church. The final text of the Apostolic Constitution is likely to ‘eliminate this ambiguity’ by making clear that all trainee priests will be required to be celibate if they wish to go over to Rome, Mr Tornielli said.
The row has been exacerbated by the decision to disclose Pope Benedict’s approach to Anglican traditionalists before the final text was ready, thus risking another of the ‘diplomatic gaffes’ that have occasionally marked his pontificate so far.
The Pope is understood to have wanted the announcement to be made only when the text was finalised, in order to avoid a public relations disaster like that which followed his rehabilitation in January of Richard Williamson, an excommunicated arch-conservative bishop, before he became aware that Bishop Williamson was a Holocaust denier.
However Cardinal Levada announced the Anglican move prematurely because he had just briefed Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Catholic Bishops of England of Wales – neither of whom were consulted – and was concerned that the news might leak out unofficially, Mr Tornielli wrote in Il Giornale.
A number of Catholic commentators have pointed out that allowing Anglicans to bring their ‘traditions and practices’ with them could end up altering the traditions and practices of the Catholic Church – including celibacy – as much as undermining the Anglican communion.
Roman Catholic canon law states that clerics are obliged ‘to observe perfect and perpetual continence for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven, and are therefore bound to celibacy, which is a special gift of God by which sacred ministers can adhere more easily to Christ with an undivided heart and dedicate themselves more freely to the service of God and humanity.’
However this is a regulation rather than unalterable dogma, and deacons in the Catholic Church are already exempted from the rule. So too are priests in the Eastern Catholic Church, although they may not be ordained bishops.
The celibacy rule was not introduced until the Middle Ages. It is assumed that St Peter himself was married, since St Mark refers to Jesus curing St Peter’s mother-in-law of fever. Many early Church fathers were married, and in his first Letter to Timothy (3: 2-4), St Paul observes that a bishop ‘must be above reproach, the husband of one wife’.
However early Church priests who were married had to remain widowers and abstain from sexual activity if their wife died. The fourth-century Council of Elvira went farther, laying down that although bishops and priests could be married, ‘they are to abstain completely from sexual intercourse with their wives and from the procreation of children’ – the beginning of the celibacy law that took shape later under medieval Popes. [TimesOnline] 1591.4
This morning, in further evidence of a significant shift for its traditionally above-the-fray communications strategy, the Vatican Press Office released the following response to the now-widespread buzz, which included the relevant part of the still-hidden document, whose name likewise remains unknown. While several outlets ran with the story, the statement specifically (and, to be candid, astoundingly) called out one reporter — the highly-regarded Andrea Tornielli of Il Giornale, who’s racked up a reputation over the last several years as the most reliable of the Vatican’s “court scribes.”
Notably, the clarification was published solely in English.
Here it is in full; emphases original:
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 31, 2009
BY THE DIRECTOR OF THE HOLY SEE PRESS OFFICE,
FR. FEDERICO LOMBARDI, S.I.,
ON SPECULATIONS ABOUT THE CELIBACY ISSUE
IN THE ANNOUNCED APOSTOLIC CONSTITUTION
REGARDING PERSONAL ORDINARIATES
FOR ANGLICAN ENTERING INTO FULL COMMUNION
WITH THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
There has been widespread speculation, based on supposedly knowledgeable remarks by an Italian correspondent, Andrea Tornielli, that the delay in publication of the Apostolic Constitution regarding Personal Ordinariates for Anglicans entering into full communion with the Catholic Church, announced on October 20, 2009, by Cardinal William Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, is due to more than “technical” reasons. According to this speculation, there is a serious substantial issue at the basis of the delay, namely, disagreement about whether celibacy will be the norm for the future clergy of the Provision.
Cardinal Levada offered the following comments on this speculation:
“Had I been asked I would happily have clarified any doubt about my remarks at the press conference. There is no substance to such speculation. No one at the Vatican has mentioned any such issue to me. The delay is purely technical in the sense of ensuring consistency in canonical language and references. The translation issues are secondary; the decision not to delay publication in order to wait for the ‘official’ Latin text to be published in Acta Apostolicae Sedis was made some time ago.
The drafts prepared by the working group, and submitted for study and approval through the usual process followed by the Congregation, have all included the following statement, currently Article VI of the Constitution:
§1 Those who ministered as Anglican deacons, priests, or bishops, and who fulfill the requisites established by canon law and are not impeded by irregularities or other impediments may be accepted by the Ordinary as candidates for Holy Orders in the Catholic Church. In the case of married ministers, the norms established in the Encyclical Letter of Pope Paul VI Sacerdotalis coelibatus, n. 42 and in the Statement “In June” are to be observed. Unmarried ministers must submit to the norm of clerical celibacy of CIC can. 277, §1.
§2. The Ordinary, in full observance of the discipline of celibate clergy in the Latin Church, as a rule (pro regula) will admit only celibate men to the order of presbyter. He may also petition the Roman Pontiff, as a derogation from can. 277, §1, for the admission of married men to the order of presbyter on a case by case basis, according to objective criteria approved by the Holy See.
This article is to be understood as consistent with the current practice of the Church, in which married former Anglican ministers may be admitted to priestly ministry in the Catholic Church on a case by case basis. With regard to future seminarians, it was considered purely speculative whether there might be some cases in which a dispensation from the celibacy rule might be petitioned. For this reason, objective criteria about any such possibilities (e.g. married seminarians already in preparation) are to be developed jointly by the Personal Ordinariate and the Episcopal Conference, and submitted for approval of the Holy See.”
Cardinal Levada said he anticipates the technical work on the Constitution and Norms will be completed by the end of the first week of November.
Meanwhile, the radical left is upset about the Pope’s Anglican initiative. Here is an article on their outrage:
Religious left’s fury over Anglican offer
The Vatican’s offer to allow doctrinally Christian Anglicans to enter the Catholic Church en masse is eliciting increasingly shrill denunciations from representatives of the extreme left of the religious world. The Vatican, critics say, is indulging in a form of ecclesiastical ‘piracy’ and is attempting to shift the Church back towards its old pre-Vatican II ‘imperialism.’
In an Op Ed published October 27 in several European newspapers, one of the most notorious members of the Catholic Church’s extreme liberal establishment, former Catholic theology professor Hans Küng, lashed out at his one-time university colleague Pope Benedict, saying that the offer to the Anglicans is a ‘tragedy,’ and ‘a non-ecumenical piracy of priests.’ It presages a shift to the extreme right and a return to an ‘old fashioned anti-reformist’ mindset.
Küng, a Swiss Catholic priest and an outspoken opponent of Catholic teaching on clerical celibacy, said the decision is a signal that ‘Pope Benedict is set upon restoring the Roman imperium.’ He denounced ‘Ratzinger’s stubborn, uncomprehending intransigence’ on the matter of married clergy and said that ‘the Roman thirst for power divides Christianity and damages its own church.’
The Vatican’s original announcement made clear, however, that the initiative was not initiated by Rome, but in response to the pleas of disaffected groups of Anglicans, including bishops, who can no longer stomach their church’s secularising trends.
The Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC), the largest of the independent Anglican groups, has asked repeatedly for this provision – a fact that is a matter of public record. In 2007, the group’s leaders met in Portsmouth, England and announced that they had ‘unanimously agreed’ to ask the pope for ‘full, corporate, sacramental union’ with the Catholic Church.
The editor-in-chief of the Vatican’s paper L’Osservatore Romano, Gian Maria Vian, has struck back, saying that Küng, the ‘former colleague and friend’ of Pope Benedict, has ‘distorted’ the pope’s intentions out of ‘bitterness.’ He decried Küng’s ‘unprovoked attack’ against the Church and ‘its unquestionable commitment to ecumenism.’
Other commentators were more succinct, with the popular and acerbic online columnist ‘Diogenes’ dryly noting at CatholicCulture.com: ‘Hans Küng has criticized Pope Benedict. In other news, the sun rose in the east this morning.’
Patrick Madrid, an American Catholic author and host of several EWTN television and radio series, wrote that Küng’s screeds are becoming increasingly predictable. ‘Father Küng’s aggressive ambivalence toward the Catholic Church is almost cute now,’ he wrote. Küng, he said, is like ‘a rickety old submarine that surfaces now and then to vent the noxious fumes that have built up inside.’
Following the Vatican’s announcement, in an Op Ed for the Washington Post retired American bishop of the Episcopal Church Diocese of Newark, John Shelby Spong, took a slightly different tack, saying that the incident is ‘a sad picture of how out-of-date and irrelevant institutional Christianity has become.’
Spong is a major ‘religious’ promoter of left-liberal causes like radical feminism and the homosexualist movement. In his writings, Spong has decried ‘organised religion,’ and ‘theism’ as a description of God. He has also denied the Virgin Birth and the bodily resurrection of Jesus.
Spong continued, ‘Here we have two unimpressive Christian leaders, rooted deeply in yesterday, jockeying publicly to see who can be the most prejudiced about the role of women and the place of homosexual people in the life of the Christian Church. It would be amusing if it were not so ludicrous.’
He continued, ‘The pope constantly parades before the world an uninformed homophobia and his attempt to suggest that women are ‘separate but equal’ is almost pathetic.’ He also blasted the pope for his refusal to accept the liberal consensus on the use of condoms to prevent the spread of AIDS in Africa.
Spong then took a shot at Rowan Williams, the Anglican archbishop of Canterbury, who signed the announcement and gave his approval. Williams, Spong said, ‘long ago sacrificed a commitment to truth on the altar of church unity, made peace with those infected with the prejudices of sexism and homophobia and acted as if unity could actually be achieved by rejecting women or gay people.’
Spong closes, after nearly 400 words on the subject, saying that he is ‘quite simply not interested in this debate.’
‘It does not speak to my world,’ he concluded. [LSN] 1591.3
At the same time, it was announced that the head of the Anglican communion, Archbishop Rowan Williams, will fly from London to Rome to meet with the Pope in a few days. Here is a story on the upcoming meeting:
Anglican leader to meet Pope, November 21
Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, spiritual leader of the world’s Anglicans, will meet Pope Benedict XVI on November 21, Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi confirmed on Friday.
Lombardi told AFP that Rowan’s visit to the Vatican was ‘already planned’ before the Vatican’s October 20 announcement of a structure for welcoming Anglican converts into the Roman Catholic Church.
Williams will be on hand for celebrations marking the 100th anniversary of the birth of Johannes Willebrands, a Dutch cardinal who was a pioneer in Catholic ecumenism and who died in 2006.
The Vatican announced last week that Pope Benedict XVI has approved a new structure to ease the way for Anglicans — including married priests — to join the Roman Catholic Church.
The Holy See said the move was a response to ‘numerous requests to the Holy See from groups of Anglican clergy and faithful in various parts of the world who want to enter into full and visible communion.’
The Anglican church has been confronted by a growing split over the ordination of women and gay marriage.
Several conservative Anglican priests have defected to Catholicism since the ordination of women was adopted from 1984 in various branches of the Anglican Communion and by the Church of England as a whole in 1992.
Most vocal on the issue has been an Australia-based group, the Traditional Anglican Communion, whose leader Bishop John Hepworth made a formal request to the pope in 2007 for its members to be allowed into the Catholic fold.
The TAC, which split from the Anglican Communion in 1991, claims a membership of some 400,000 — of whom several hundred are thought to want to convert to Catholicism.
The Church of England is the mother church of the worldwide Anglican Communion, which has about 77 million followers. The Catholic Church counts some 1.1 billion faithful. [AFP] 1591.5
Meanwhile, one of the most important of the traditional Anglican who desires to enter into communion with Rome has made clear his hopes for the new structures. Here are slections from a recent interview with Primate John Hepworth, the leader of the traditional Anglicans of Australia:
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 24, 2009
Liturgy, structure, and other matters of the new global Anglican Catholic structure
Very interesting answers in this lengthy interview granted by the leader of the Traditional Anglican Communion, Primate John Hepworth, to The Australian (some of these points were reiterated by him in his brief intervention at the Forward in Faith UK conference this Saturday).
Ordinariates around the world:
Inquirer: In place of conventional dioceses, the new arrangements envisage “personal ordinariates”. Are they akin to the military ordinariates for dispersed groups of personnel in the various branches of the armed forces?
John Hepworth: Yes, and they are at the heart of what the Pope proposes. They are similar to dioceses but are groupings of people rather than a territory. Under this arrangement the ordinary (who may be a priest or a bishop) will be the shepherd of the Anglican people within the Catholic communion in his area. There will probably be a considerable number of these groupings around the world.
Inquirer: Have decisions been made yet about the liturgy you’ll use?
JH: An international group is working at the moment on the liturgical books for the new Anglican structure. I anticipate something that combines glimpses of pre-Reformation English worship, the glorious liturgical language of the Reformation period and contemporary understanding of the way Christians should approach God will eventually be approved.
Inquirer: How do the Pope’s proposals mesh the Latin celibate discipline for all clergy with Anglicanism’s longstanding acceptance of married priests and bishops?
JH: Bishops in the new Anglican structure will be unmarried. This is out of respect for the tradition of Eastern and Western Christianity. But priests who come from Anglicanism will be able to serve as priests in the new structure, whether married or not, after satisfying certain requirements. The truly radical element is that married men will be able to be ordained priests in the Anglican structure indefinitely into the future. It is anticipated that Anglican bishops who are married when they joined the new structure will still be able to serve as priestly ordinaries, exercising some of the responsibilities of bishops.
The Eastern Orthodox:
Inquirer: How will the Orthodox react to the new arrangements? Will they be viewing the next six months as a test of Rome’s ecumenical bona fides?
JH: Already there are stories circulating that the Patriarch of Moscow has urged his ecumenical negotiators in the Vatican to hurry in order that the Anglicans do not get too far ahead. They’re probably apocryphal, but we do know that the Russian Orthodox Church is very close to achieving unity with Rome. It is the largest of the Orthodox churches of the East. We also know that the Orthodox are watching the Anglican process very closely to try to assess the extent to which Rome is serious about tolerating many different traditions of Christianity within the scope of the Catholic Church. I have had conversations with members of the Greek Orthodox Church and the Coptic Church about the parallels between their conversations with Rome and ours. Christian unity throughout the world is at a very similar moment. Conversation and co-operation are beginning to evolve into forms of organic unity that still protect diverse Christian traditions of worship and spirituality.
[C]onsidering that this matter, although already decided, had been by certain persons for whatever reason recalled into discussion, and that thence it might follow that a pernicious error would be fostered in the minds of many who might suppose that they possessed the Sacrament and effects of Orders, where these are nowise to be found, it seemed good to Us in the Lord to pronounce our judgment.
Wherefore, strictly adhering, in this matter, to the decrees of the pontiffs, our predecessors, and confirming them most fully, and, as it were, renewing them by our authority, of our own initiative and certain knowledge, we pronounce and declare that ordinations carried out according to the Anglican rite have been, and are, absolutely null and utterly void.
It remains for Us to say that, even as we have entered upon the elucidation of this grave question in the name and in the love of the Great Shepherd, in the same we appeal to those who desire and seek with a sincere heart the possession of a hierarchy and of Holy Orders.
Perhaps until now aiming at the greater perfection of Christian virtue, and searching more devoutly the divine Scriptures, and redoubling the fervor of their prayers, they have, nevertheless, hesitated in doubt and anxiety to follow the voice of Christ, which so long has interiorly admonished them. Now they see clearly whither He in His goodness invites them and wills them to come.
In returning to His one only fold, they will obtain the blessings which they seek, and the consequent helps to salvation, of which He has made the Church the dispenser, and, as it were, the constant guardian and promoter of His redemption amongst the nations. Then, indeed, “They shall draw waters in joy from the fountains of the Savior”, His wondrous Sacraments, whereby His faithful souls have their sins truly remitted, and are restored to the friendship of God, are nourished and strengthened by the heavenly Bread, and abound with the most powerful aids for their eternal salvation. May the God of peace, the God of all consolation, in His infinite tenderness, enrich and fill with all these blessings those who truly yearn for them.
We wish to direct our exhortation and our desires in a special way to those who are ministers of religion in their respective communities. They are men who from their very office take precedence in learning and authority, and who have at heart the glory of God and the salvation of souls. Let them be the first in joyfully submitting to the divine call and obey it, and furnish a glorious example to others. Assuredly, with an exceeding great joy, their Mother, the Church, will welcome them, and will cherish with all her love and care those whom the strength of their generous souls has, amidst many trials and difficulties, led back to her bosom.
September 18, 1896
Archbishop Raymond Burke’s key post
Also recently, Archbishop Raymond Burke’s role in Rome has continued to take on more importance.
In a very clear and accurate article, John Thavis of the Catholic News Service writes:
Pope Benedict XVI’s naming of US Archbishop Raymond L. Burke to the Congregation for Bishops was a small but significant appointment that could have an impact on the wider church for many years to come.
The congregation’s members generally meet every two weeks to review candidates for vacant dioceses and make their recommendations to the pope — recommendations that carry a lot of weight. Precisely for that reason, the Congregation for Bishops is known as one of the most important Roman Curia agencies.
Membership on the congregation is a five-year appointment, which could be renewed until a prelate’s 80th birthday. It would not be an exaggeration to say that Archbishop Burke, 61, will be helping to shape the episcopate, not only in the United States but also around the world.
Formerly the archbishop of St. Louis, Archbishop Burke was named in 2008 as head of the Vatican’s highest tribunal, known as the Supreme Court of the Apostolic Signature. At the time, pundits wondered whether the appointment would in effect sideline someone who had been one of the most outspoken U.S. bishops on moral and political issues.
Archbishop Burke has been anything but silent, however. Since his Vatican appointment, he has insisted that holy Communion be refused to Catholic politicians who actively support legal abortion, said the Democratic Party in the United States ‘risks transforming itself definitively into a ‘party of death,” and said nothing could justify casting a ballot for a candidate who supports ‘anti-life’ and ‘anti-family’ legislation.
In mid-October, he celebrated a pontifical high Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica using the 1962 Roman Missal, known as the Tridentine rite — the first time that has happened in almost 40 years.
Archbishop Burke, who is expected to be named a cardinal in coming months, will join about 30 other cardinal and bishop members of the Congregation for Bishops. Although the congregation’s work is strictly confidential, sources explained in detail what the archbishop will be doing in his new role.
Unlike several other Roman Curia agencies, which may draw their full membership together only once a year, the Congregation for Bishops meets regularly every two weeks. The meetings last all morning, and typically bishops’ appointments for four dioceses are reviewed at each session.
Even before the meeting, congregation members are sent abundant documentation on the candidates for each diocese, and they are expected to be familiar with the material. This is information collected by the apostolic nuncio in the country where the diocese is located; a large part of the packet is comprised of the written evaluations requested of some 30 to 40 people who know the candidate.
At the congregation’s meeting, one member acts as the ‘ponente,’ or presenter, reviewing the information and making his own recommendation on the ‘terna,’ or list, of three candidates. Each member, in order of seniority, is then asked to give his views — in effect, offering a judgment on whether the candidates are worthy and suitable, and in what order they should be recommended.
The process was described by one source as a ‘thorough vetting,’ with ample discussion and exchanges. The congregation’s overall recommendations — along with any doubts, questions or minority opinions — then go to the pope. He usually approves the congregation’s decision, but may choose to send it back for further discussion and evaluation.
One thing is certain: Being a member of the Congregation for Bishops is a time-consuming task. Insiders say the preparation work for each meeting takes many hours. And the congregation members are expected to show up for the meetings — which helps explain why all but a handful of the members are cardinals and bishops living in Rome.
More importantly, members know they are dealing with decisions that will affect the future of the church and the salvation of souls.
‘It’s a very serious procedure, because a bishop has a heavy responsibility in the church. It’s an exercise in prudential judgment, and the weight of it is felt by everyone involved,’ said one Vatican official.
Archbishop Burke joins three other U.S. members of the congregation. Two of them, Cardinal Bernard F. Law and Cardinal J. Francis Stafford, reside in Rome, while the third, Cardinal Justin Rigali, is the archbishop of Philadelphia.
Very occasionally, for a vacancy in a U.S. diocese, the U.S. members may have input at an earlier stage, if they are asked by the nuncio to recommend candidates or comment on the state of the diocese.
Congregation members do give particular attention to appointments in their native countries, but more often than not they are looking beyond their home borders: In 2007, for example, of the 179 bishops’ appointments handled by the congregation, only 13 were in the United States. [CNS] 1591.6
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor
The Holy Father has appointed Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, archbishop emeritus of Westminster, Great Britain, as member of the Congregation for Bishops and for the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. [VIS] 1591.9
Archbishop rips New York Times for anti-Catholicism
Calling anti-Catholicism a ‘national pastime,’ Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York has denounced The New York Times for the ‘unfairness against the Catholic Church’ displayed in its pages in the past two weeks.
‘The most combustible example of all came Sunday with an intemperate and scurrilous piece by Maureen Dowd on the opinion pages of the Times,’ he said. ‘In a diatribe that rightly never would have passed muster with the editors had it so criticized an Islamic, Jewish, or African-American religious issue, she digs deep into the nativist handbook to use every anti-Catholic caricature possible, from the Inquisition to the Holocaust, condoms, obsession with sex, paedophile priests, and oppression of women, all the while slashing Pope Benedict XVI for his shoes, his forced conscription– along with every other German teenage boy– into the German army, his outreach to former Catholics, and his recent welcome to Anglicans.’
Archbishop Dolan posted his opinion piece on his new blog on October 29 after The New York Times refused to published it. [CWN] 1591.24
Meanwhile, on the Orthodox Front…
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 30, 2009
No reunion yet
In recent days there has been much talk about the “impending reunion” of the Orthodox with Rome (especially of the Bulgarians, who don’t even want to continue the dialogue with Rome). While I am certain that all true Catholics desire to see the return of the Orthodox to unity with Rome — a unity that above all should be a unity of faith — I have to ask if people realize that such misleading reporting, far from hastening this reconciliation, is actually a major obstacle to true reunion. False reporting accomplishes nothing except to create the momentary illusion that doctrinal differences have been resolved or are of no real consequence (or are not really differences at all), and that false ecumenism works.
To see where things really stand, we only need to turn to the words of Archbishop Hilarion of Volokalamsk, who — in an interview recently published by the official website of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia — gives the following opinion:
In this situation, I suppose that a consolidation is needed in the efforts of those churches which consider themselves “Churches of Tradition,” that is, the Orthodox, Catholics and pre-Chalcedonians. I am not talking about the serious dogmatic and ecclesiological differences which exist between these Churches and which can be considered within the framework of bilateral dialog. I am talking about the need to reach an agreement between these Churches on some strategic alliance, pact, union for defending traditional Christianity as such—defense from all modern challenges, whether militant liberalism, militant atheism or militant Islam. I would like to underline that a strategic alliance is my own idea, not the official position of the Moscow Patriarchate.
We do not need union with the Catholics, we do not need “intercommunion,” we do not need compromise for a doubtful “rapprochement.” What we do need , in my opinion , is a strategic alliance , for the challenge is made to traditional Christianity as such. This is especially noticeable in Europe , where de-Christianization and liberalization are occurring as persistently as the gradual and unswerving Islamization. The liberal, weakened “Christianity” of the Protestant communities cannot resist the onslaught of Islam; only staunch, traditional Christianity can stand against it, ready to defend its moral positions. In this battle, the Orthodox and Catholics could, even in the face of all the differences accumulated over the centuries, form a united front.
In September 2009, the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem also issued a press release on the visit of some German Catholic bishops to Patriarch Theophilus III, wherein we find the following passage:
As regards the theological dialogue, we are in favour; however, we do not look to it with any anxiety. We believe that we should be striving for a unity of faith, and not of administration.»
Continuing his address, His Beatitude said that the ecclesiastic dialogue should also include monks, who do not confuse «speculation with revelation»; they know that Christianity does not involve speculation. They know what the truth is: that a Christian’s goal is deification. The representatives of the theological dialogue between the Churches and the leaders of the Churches should be pleased, if both levels of dialogue were to coexist; that is, love and truth. Not love alone.
His Beatitude stressed that it is about time both Churches examined what divides them, and not what the elements that unite them are.
«The elements that unite them have been discussed exhaustively in the past. The beginning of our unity in the faith is found in the recognition of our weaknesses. It is time that we operated on our wounds.»