Word is beginning to spread that the Eastern Orthodox are going to have a worldwide, Pan-Orthodox Council in 2015. Contrary to what our detractors probably think, we at the EF have always been firm supporters of authentic ecumenical (i.e. inter-Christian) dialogue whereby, by prayer, fasting, and thoughtful theological exchange, all those who glory in the name of Christian might gradually grow together into that full, visible, and canonical unity so ardently desired for the Church by her Divine Founder, but contrary to what we could have possibly hoped for, none of us ever imagined that the Eastern Orthodox would convene such a council in our own lifetime. We thought perhaps that a single, autocephalous Orthodox jurisdiction would form in the United States, but never a world-wide pan-Orthodox council of all the Eastern Orthodox Churches.
It goes without saying that such events are very, very rare. Because the Orthodox are not agreed among themselves as to which was the last universally binding council, their theologians will either point to Nicea II (787) or Constantinople V (1351) as the last time authoritative representatives of their churches assembled to address matters of doctrine. Indeed, some might say that if there is no Roman Emperor or Czar to convene a council, it can only be pan-Orthodox, not ecumenical.
Because no representative of either of the major Patriarchates has so far indicated what would be on the Council’s agenda, and no blogger has made any serious proposals for discussion, although we at the EF are not Eastern Orthodox, in the spirit of fraternal love and charity, we believe the following could make a serious contribution to the quest for unity between our respective Churches.
1. The question of the calendar should be permanently resolved.
2. The Council should commit its constituent Churches to pursue communion with Rome cautiously, first by affirming the following:
A) The Eastern Rites of the Catholic Church are an important historic reality that need not impede the path to unity and towards which the Eastern Orthodox Churches intend no animosity.
B) Rome is to be commended for encouraging de-Latinization among her Eastern Rites.
C) Rome is to ensure that the FIlioque not be recited in liturgical celebrations outside the Roman Rite in accordance with the sound practice of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.
3. The Pan-Orthodox Council should commit its constituent Churches:
A) To working with the papacy to re-evangelize Europe, to fight the onslaught of the totalitarian secularist state, and to defend the rights of Christians in the Muslim world;
B) Not to re-baptize, re-chrismate, or re-ordain Christians for any reason who have already received these sacraments in the Roman Catholic Church (i.e. to condemn with the Western Church the Donatist heresy);
C) To continue the work happily begun by the North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation, and to encourage it to face with courage whatever may be dividing the Churches in the theology of Augustine of Hippo or Anselm of Canterbury, and in the decrees of the First Vatican Council.
To be continued… [Edit: Part 2 can be read here.]