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Relations between Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy

In the past few decades, many Roman Catholic theologians and even Popes have spoken of the first seven councils as ecumenical in some sort of "full and proper sense", enjoying the acceptance of both East and West.

"The Role of the Councils in the Life of the Church and on the Sacraments in Their Relation to the Church and the Economy of Salvation"

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History of The Catholic Church What is the Orthodox Church
What is Roman Catholic
Western Rite Orthodox
Catholic Church and Rites
The Great Schism
St. Photios the Great
Pope Leo III and the Filioque
Church Terminology
The Name Orthodox
The Nicene Creed
Orthodoxy & Roman Catholism
Orthodoxy & Roman Dialogue
Orthodox Teaching
Orthodox Doctrine
Orthodox Prayers
Principle of Orthodox Faith
Four Marks of the Church
Apparitions

ORTHODOX LIFE
Fasting in the Orthodox Church
Holy Communion
Confession
Jesus Prayer
Prayer
Sign of the Cross
Rules of Pius Life
The Holy Trinity
Meaning of Christ's Cross
Why do we confess?
Preparation for Confession
History of Rosary
The Blessed Virgin Mary
How to Pray the Rosary
ICONS

Pope Paul VI held meetings with the Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras I of Constantinople in order to repeal anathemas and give over relics as a gesture of good will and reconciliation with Eastern believers. The mutual excommunications of 1054 between the Pope Leo IX and the Patriarch Michael I Cerularius were lifted in the Catholic-Orthodox joint declaration of 1965.

Moreover, Pope John Paul II, in his encyclical Ut Unum Sint ("That they may be one"), invited other Christians to discuss how the primacy of the Bishop of Rome should be appropriately exercised from now on; he says that the future may be a better guide than the past. In this way, the Bishop of Rome is allowing for the development of an ecclesiology that would be acceptable to both East and West, would allow for reconciliation of Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches, and would provide a common understanding of the authority of councils called ecumenical.

Similarly, on November 11, 1994 at meeting of Mar Dinkha IV, Patriarch of Babylon, Selucia-Ctesiphon and all of the East, leader of the Assyrian and Pope John Paul II at the Vatican, a Common Christological Declaration was signed, bridging a schism dating from the Third Ecumenical Council at Ephesus. The separation of the Oriental believers from the one holy catholic and apostolic Church after the Fourth Ecumenical Council at Chalcedon was addressed in a "Common Declaration of Pope Paul VI and of Pope Shenouda III of Alexandria" at the Vatican on May 10, 1973 and in an "Agreed Statement" prepared by the "Joint Commission of the Theological Dialogue between the Orthodox Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches" at the Monastery of Saint Pishoy in Wadi El Natrun, Egypt on June 24, 1989.

"The Mystery of Redemption and Its Consequences for the Last Ends of the Human Person"

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Speeches of Pope John Paul II and Metropolitan John of Pergamon

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"Doctrinal Agreement on Christology"

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PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR PROMOTING CHRISTIAN UNITY

GUIDELINES FOR ADMISSION TO THE EUCHARIST
BETWEEN THE CHALDEAN CHURCH
AND THE ASSYRIAN CHURCH OF THE EAST

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Pope John Paul II has asked for forgiveness for Roman Catholic sins against the Orthodox faith during his controversial visit to Greece.

He asked God to pardon sins committed during the last 1,000 years since the two churches split, in particular the sacking of Constantinople by Catholic Crusaders in 1204.

The Pope's trip had been preceded by demonstrations by Greek Orthodox hardliners who refer to the pontiff as "the grotesque, two-horned monster of Rome".

For the occasions past and present... may the Lord grant us the forgiveness we beg of him Pope John Paul II

He told the Greece's Orthodox leader Archbishop Christodoulos: "For the occasions past and present, when the sons and daughters of the Catholic Church have sinned by actions and omission against their Orthodox brothers and sisters may the Lord grant us the forgiveness we beg of him."

The Pope cited the 1204 sacking of Constantinople as an act which filled today's Catholics with "deep regret".

Archbishop Christodoulos had presented him with a list of "offences", from the 11th century Great Schism which divided Christianity into Eastern and Western branches, to the plight of modern Cyprus.

He said the "traumatic experiences remain as open wounds on (the Greek people's) vigorous body."

The archbishop applauded the Pope's speech, and the two men embraced.

Bishop Illarion: One has to understand that if we have been divided for almost 10 centuries, finding a path to restoring complete unity, to removing all existing theological and ecclesiological problems, will be very difficult. Many years or even many centuries may be spent on this.

The question is this: if we cannot restore eucharistic union and we cannot be a single church, can we not at least learn to act as a single structure in our relations with the outside world? The challenges which face Christian churches today are challenges thrown out to all of Christian civilization.

As the guardians of Christian traditions and as churches that have a common position, in fact an identical position, on all fundamental moral questions of modern life, we should learn to act together. And precisely for this purpose it seems to me essential to create such an alliance or a strategic union to successfully accomplish this mission.

The structure of the Orthodox Church is different from the structure of the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church has a single structure, headed by the pope. The Orthodox Church is a commonwealth of 15 independent, autocephalous churches -- each of which has its own patriarch or archbishop or metropolitan at its head. So the patriarch of Constantinople is in no way the head of the Orthodox Church, in the same sense that the pope is the head of the Catholic Church.

Of course it is very important for the Roman Catholic Church to develop relations not only with the Patriarchate of Constantinople, but also with other Orthodox churches, including the Moscow Patriarchate, which has the most followers among the Orthodox churches. In terms of followers, it is the second-largest Christian church after the Roman Catholic Church.

One needs to look at two separate issues: a meeting between the pope and the Moscow patriarch and the pope's visit to Russia. I think a meeting has to come first, and afterward, depending on the result of the meeting, an invitation could be issued for the pope to visit Russia. And I have the feeling the current pope and the current Moscow patriarch will meet.

We are talking above all about the Eastern Rite churches, which remain a very serious problem. And we are talking about Catholic proselytism, which, as you mentioned correctly, the Catholic hierarchy now admits to.

The main issue here is that a meeting between the pope and the Moscow patriarch cannot simply be a protocol visit for the television cameras. It must be a meeting which helps to bring about a genuine breakthrough in our relations -- and if it does not resolve our current problems, then at least it should lead to a mapping out of a path for the common understanding of these problems and to their possible resolution.

COMMON DECLARATION
OF HIS HOLINESS JOHN PAUL II
AND HIS HOLINESS KAREKIN II
AT HOLY ETCHMIADZIN, REPUBLIC OF ARMENIA

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The Joint Commission between the Catholic Church and Coptic Orthodox Church

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JOINT DECLARATION
OF POPE PAUL VI AND VASKEN I,
SUPREME CATHOLICOS-PATRIARCH
OF ALL ARMENIANS

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Catholic Church and
of the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church

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The Principles for Guiding the Search for Unity between the Catholic Church and the Coptic Orthodox Church"

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  The History of the "filioque" Controversy; Biblical, Theological and Patristic Aspects of the Procession of the Holy Spirit; Click here to read
  Dialogue between Oriental Orthodox Churches and Roman Catholic Church click here to read
 

"Ecclesial Communion; Sacramental Mysteries; Marriage; Eucharistic Communion"

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The Ecumenical Summit at Rome in 1984

It is in this background that the dialogue initiated by their predecessors were continued by their Holinesses Patriarch Mor Ignatius Zakka and Pope John Paul II. Click here to read

  COMMON CHRISTOLOGICAL DECLARATION
BETWEEN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
AND THE ASSYRIAN CHURCH OF THE EAST. Click here to read
 
 

RELATIONS WITH THE CHURCHES OF THE EAST

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"The Unity of the Church up to the Fifth Century"

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Joint Declaration of 1971.

During the reign of Patriarch Mor Ya`qub III an attempt was made to narrow down the differences in explaining Christology between the Syriac Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church. This resulted in a joint declaration issued in Vatican on 27 October, 1971 signed by Patriarch Ya`qub and Pope Paul Vl. The text of the declaration is given here:

 
  "Mixed Marriages; Pastoral Guidelines for Catholics and Orthodox; Bishops' Function and Role at Local and Regional Levels" Click here to read

JOINT CATHOLIC-ORTHODOX DECLARATION
OF HIS HOLINESS POPE PAUL VI
AND THE ECUMENICAL PATRIARCH ATHENAGORAS I

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Common Report

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COMMON DECLARATION
OF POPE PAUL VI AND OF
THE POPE OF ALEXANDRIA SHENOUDA III
. Click here to read

COMMON DECLARATION
OF JOHN PAUL II AND CATHOLICOS KAREKIN I

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COMMON DECLARATION OF POPE JOHN PAUL II
AND HIS HOLINESS MAR IGNATIUS ZAKKA I IWAS

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COMMON DECLARATION
OF POPE JOHN PAUL II
AND CATHOLICOS ARAM I KESHISHIAN

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Report of Second Meeting of Oriental Orthodox-Catholic Dialogue

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Statement of Joint Catholic-Orthodox Commission

COMMON DECLARATION OF HIS HOLINESS JOHN PAUL II AND HIS HOLINESS KAREKIN II AT HOLY ETCHMIADZIN, REPUBLIC OF ARMENIA click here to read

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