Theologians of the world brainstorm about new ways to reconcile Orthodox and Greek Catholics
"The stolen Churches, or bridges to Orthodoxy?" - this was the topic of a theological conference, held on 19-21 July 2019 at the Academy of the Roman Catholic diocese Rottenburg-Stuttgart (Germany), which set a goal to find new impulses for dialogue between the Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches. It was reported by communication service of the Diocese of Paris of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.
The initiator and organizer of the conference was Georgetown University (Washington DC, USA) in cooperation with the Ecclesiological Investigations International Research Network (EIIRN), University of Leuven and Ukrainian Catholic University, the Wallachian Greek Theological Academy and some other institutions working in the field of Orthodox-Catholic dialogue.
The West had a wide geography: speakers were from almost all countries of the European Union, as well as the USA, Canada, India, Australia, Ukraine, Russia, Belarus. During the two and a half days of the conference, about 50 reports were heard, of which more than 20 were delivered in plenary sessions. Theologians discussed the following topics: ecclesiological models of Church unity, synodality and conciliarity of the Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches, missionary and sacramental nature of the Church, the role of women in the Church; as well as a number of topics related to the Liturgy and Church law as special components of the identity of the Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches.
All conditions to facilitate communication between Orthodox and Greek Catholics were created at the conference. At the same time, it was felt that both sides were tired of discussing such long-discussed topics as filioque, the primacy of the Roman Bishop, romanization or proselytism. The overwhelming majority of participants expressed the idea that one should simply recognize the new ecclesiastical reality and look for new paradigms for its theological-ecclesiastical understanding.
In this context, a report by the Chairman of the Ecumenical Commission of the Diocese of Paris Fr Ihor Rantsia who spoke about the concept of canonical territory and the Eastern Catholic Church on the example of the situation in Ukraine.
The conference program included two Divine Liturgies: Greek Catholic and Orthodox, which were attended by almost all participants, having the opportunity to clearly see that they share a common liturgical heritage. The conference reached a consensus that the Eastern Catholic Churches are neither stolen Churches nor bridges to Orthodoxy. Their identity is a complex phenomenon that can be understood in their direct dialogue with the Orthodox Churches in the spirit of mutual acceptance through reconciliation and forgiveness.