The present structure of representation in the Joint Orthodox-Catholic Theological Commission 'does not reflect the actual distribution of powers and views in the Orthodox world', believes Bishop Hilarion of Vienna and Austria, Russian Church representative to European international organizations.
'The millions-strong Russian Church is represented in the Commission by only two delegates, while any other Orthodox Church, even if smaller numerically, is also represented by two delegates', Bishop Hilarion said in a interview with Interfax.
Representatives of the Patriarchate of Constantinople occupying the two posts of a cochairman and the secretary 'represents a certain misbalance', when the Orthodox cochairman sometimes insists on his own point of view, 'which may not be shared by a representative of the Moscow Patriarchate', Bishop Hilarion maintains.
In addition, Bishop Hilarion points to the fact that it is inadmissible procedurally to make decisions on theological and ecclesiological problems by vote. 'What is at stake here is not to identify an opinion of a majority or a minority but to find the truth', he says. 'If at least one Orthodox Church is against a particular formulation, this formulation cannot be adopted. There must be consensus and any voting is inappropriate here', he stated.
The bishop also urged not to regard the forthcoming meeting in Ravenna 'as a meeting of the two heads of Churches - Catholic and Orthodox' in case Pope Benedict XVI of Rome and Patriarch Bartholomaios of Constantinople choose to attend it.
'In universal Orthodoxy there is no hierarch whose role would be similar to that of the Pope of Rome in the Western Church. There must be no illusion that there is such a hierarch. We respect the Patriarch of Constantinople as the first in honour among the primates of local Orthodox Churches, but we are against regarding him as 'Pope of the East', Bishop Hilarion noted.
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