Christian Unity

Over at TitusOneNine there was a notice about a vestry being declared vacant by the Diocesan. In the ensuing discussion a commenter introduced an article regarding the conversation between the Eastern and Western Churches and she was criticized for it. The article she shared was an address by Fr. Thomas Hopko at a forum two years ago. In it he explores the Roman Pontiff’s presidency in world-wide Christianity and the presidency’s impact on Christian unity.

Here is another article in which Ioannis Zizioulas, Metropolitan Bishop of Pergamum, is interviewed about “Catholics [taking] seriously the notion of the full Catholicity of the local Church promoted by Vatican Council II, and [how they] must apply it to their ecclesiology.” In this interview “Zizioulas, takes stock of the debate between Catholics and Orthodox regarding the primacy” and an ecclesiological approach.

In many of the articles that I have read about the discrepancy between the hierarchical structure of the West and the Conciliar orientation (all puns intended) of the East, the 34th Apostolic Canon is invoked. The 34th Apostolic canon states: “The bishops of all peoples should know the first among them and recognize him as the head, and do nothing that exceeds their authority without his consideration. Each should carry out only that which relates to his own diocese and to areas belonging to it. But the first among them should also do nothing without the consideration of all.”

That “the two lungs of the Church” are discussing Unity is something that the Protestant world ignores to its own peril. However we choose to navigate the rough seas, those in Anglican coracles must know where to steer in order to find land and safety.

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4 Responses to “Christian Unity”

  1. Margaret Says:

    Thank you for the kind words you posted on Titus regarding my post in response to the ACI statement as cited.

    We continually hold the priesthood of the Anglican Communion in prayer as we have been blessed by you and believe that God is with you; however, He may see you as performing priestly duties beyond TEC.

    Father, please continue to fast and pray in this Holy Lent and pray for me, a sinner.

  2. dpc+ Says:

    Dear Margaret, You’re welcome. And thank You for your faithfulness to the Faith and the Church (they’re the same, aren’t they!!).
    I continue to humbly (I hope) try and introduce an Orthodox ecclesiological understanding of our crisis into the conversation. It usually goes unnoticed.

  3. A Free Spirit Says:

    I just read an article on CNN.com regarding unity in the Catholic Church without cultural uniformity (i.e., as Anglican congregations join while retaining their rites). I then wrote a post about the relationship of unity and doctrinal uniformity. In general terms, does unity require uniformity?

  4. dpc+ Says:

    As I said at your other comment:
    welcome free spirit! A very astute question. Unity doesn’t require uniformity (thus, for example, the Western Rite in the Eastern Orthodox Church). What unity requires is Conformity. Which is a horse of a different color. I once likened this to the issue of the episcopal church’s understanding of autonomy. Autonomy can, in the most helpful, wholesome and healthy ways, be understood as “self governing.” That is the mutuality that different national/ethnic churches have in the Orthodox Church. One faith, expressed in culturally relevant and individual contexts. That is also supposed to be the understanding of the provinces in the Anglican Communion. It is an ancient and honored principle of the Church. However the episcopal church has chosen to understand autonomy as “a law unto themselves.” This has never been acceptable in the life of the Church.


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