The calendar year 2014 could furnish exciting new opportunities for ecumenical work with the Orthodox world, but progress may be impeded by disagreements between the world’s most powerful Orthodox groups, according to the president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity.
At the start of the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Cardinal
Kurt Koch told Vatican Radio that a meeting between Pope Francis and the
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople could be the “most
important opportunity” of the year.
However he acknowledged that
tensions between the Orthodox churches—in particular, the resistance of
the Russian Orthodox Church to a common statement on primacy—pose
problems for the immediate future of ecumenical discussions.
“I think there are more tensions between the Orthodox than between the
Orthodox and Catholics,” Cardinal Koch said. A key point of contention
is an argument over an Orthodox statement on primacy, which the
Patriarchate of Moscow refused to accept.
The cardinal told Vatican
Radio that representatives of the patriarchates of Moscow and
Constantinople are now discussing that issue, and their talks might
provide a “very good opportunity” for resolving the difficulties.
that is an “internal Orthodox dialogue,” and the Catholic Church cannot
be directly involved, he said.
Cardinal Koch reported that the Joint International Commission for
Theological Dialogue, which includes Catholic and Orthodox scholars,
will meet sometime this year. He did not specify the time or place for
The Joint International Commission, which held its last
meeting in Vienna in 2010, had originally been scheduled to meet again
But plans for the meeting were postponed because of the
disagreements among Orthodox participants over the statement on primacy.