Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
November 2, 2009
Anti-papal protesters dog Orthodox-RC talks
CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE
VATICAN CITY - In the midst of a protest by a small number of Orthodox monks and faithful, the official Catholic-Orthodox dialogue commission met in Cyprus Oct. 16-23.
The meeting of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue Between the Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church focused on a key factor in the ongoing division between Catholic and Orthodox: the role of the pope as bishop of Rome.
The protesters - who were arrested Oct. 20, the third day of their demonstration - claimed that the ongoing dialogue between the two churches was aimed at getting the Orthodox to submit to papal authority.
According to a statement released by the dialogue commission Oct. 23, the commission's Orthodox members dismissed negative reactions to the dialogue "as totally unfounded and unacceptable, providing false and misleading information."
ROLE OF THE POPE
The joint sessions of the dialogue focused on discussing a draft report, The Role of the Bishop of Rome in the Communion of the Church in the First Millennium.
After discussing and amending the text, the commission decided to finalize it next year during a meeting in Vienna, Austria, the statement said.
The current round of the Catholic-Orthodox dialogue has been looking at questions related to the exercise of authority in the Church.
The authority and decision-making structure of the Catholic Church today, particularly the role of the papacy, is much more centralized than in the Orthodox churches.
While the Orthodox recognize the ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople as the "first among equals," he has no direct authority over any of the individual Orthodox churches.
In addition, the Orthodox patriarchs exercise their authority together with their synods of bishops.
Meeting in 2007, the dialogue commission approved a statement on how communion and authority are expressed and exercised on a local, regional and universal level within the one Church of Christ.
Before moving on to the crucial question of papal authority and papal infallibility, members decided to lay a foundation by discussing how the authority of the bishop of Rome was exercised when Christianity was still united.
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