Cardinal Kurt Koch on the Dialogue Between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches
Archbishop Kurt Koch, who since 2010 has headed the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, gave a lecture at the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv on June 10 on “Prospects of the Ecumenical Dialogue Between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches" and answered a number of questions.
As stated at the beginning of the lecture by Bishop Borys Gudziak, “unity among the followers of Christ is a priority of different programs that are implemented today by UCU, which also has an Institute of Ecumenical Studies.”
Cardinal Kurt Koch focused on the analysis of the phases and themes of the Catholic-Orthodox dialogue, stressed the merits of Pope Benedict XVI in enhancing the work of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, which focuses on the discussion of one of the most painful and key issues of Orthodox-Catholic relations – the primacy of the bishop of Rome.
Cardinal Koch explained that "from the Orthodox point of view, the church is present in every local church that celebrates the Eucharist, so each Eucharistic community is a complete church. Instead, from the Catholic point of view, a separate Eucharistic community is not a complete church. Therefore, a basis of the Catholic Church is the unity of separate Eucharistic communities with each other and the bishop of Rome. That is, the Catholic Church lives in the mutual intersection of local churches in one universal church.”
Cardinal Koch also outlined future ecumenical steps, which both the Catholic and Orthodox Churches should take. For example, the Catholic Church should “strengthen the argument for the importance of the life and work of the church of the primacy of the pope," and the Orthodox Church should "boldly examine its main ecclesiological problem, namely, autocephaly of national churches and their inclination toward nationalism."
According to the cardinal, “the most important thing is not to lose sight of the goal of ecumenical dialogue between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, which, at least from the Catholic point of view, can consist only in the restoration of a visible communion of churches.”