VATICAN CITY, JULY 4, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The international theological dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches will resume in the fall, says Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
The resumption of the dialogue was one of the proposals Benedict XVI made to the delegation of the ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, during its visit to Rome last week.
In statements Saturday on Vatican Radio, Cardinal Kasper confirmed that the delegation communicated “officially that in the fall we will be able to take up again the international dialogue with all the Orthodox Churches.”
The official theological dialogue, which is carried out by a Catholic-Orthodox International Mixed Commission and includes representatives of the Catholic Church and of the various Orthodox Churches, has been blocked since 2000, when disputes arose at a meeting in Maryland.
The disputes were over the “Theological and Canonical Implications of Uniatism.” The latter is the term used by the Orthodox when speaking of Christians, in traditionally Orthodox countries, who are in union with the Pope.
During a visit to Moscow from June 20-23, Cardinal Kasper was assured of the Russian Orthodox Church’s willingness to take part in the dialogue.
He said that the topic the Catholic-Orthodox dialogue will first address is “What Does Church Mean in Reality?”
“Therefore, we will talk about the ecclesial community and, in this context, we will address the crucial question with Orthodoxy, namely, the primacy of the Petrine ministry,” the cardinal explained.
“In this ambit, later, it will also be possible to resume the question of the ‘Uniate’ Church,” he said. “I think that at present these are the aspects that must be considered. It will not be an easy discussion, but we will finally address openly the problems that exist between us.”
Of his trip to Moscow, Cardinal Kasper said, “The atmosphere was cordial and courteous; I would not describe it as warm, but certainly fraternal.
“We have reasoned in the areas where we can collaborate, especially in the social and cultural field, and how we can offer a common testimony against the present secularism. There are possibilities of meeting here.”
“We have also said that it would be desirable if meetings were verified between monasteries, considering the great importance that monasticism has in the Orthodox Church,” he added. “The prospects are absolutely positive.”