Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, delivered a lecture yesterday at the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv. The theme of his lecture was on the “Prospects of the Ecumenical Dialogue Between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.”
According to the Religious Information Service, Cardinal Koch began his talk by discussing the various steps that have been taken in fostering a dialogue between the Catholic-Orthodox Churches, especially the efforts of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI during his papacy.
The Cardinal also emphasized the important work of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church. One of the major areas that the commission discusses on is one of the major points of contention: the primacy of the See of St. Peter.
The president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity explained the differences in the Churches thought on Eucharist community.
“From the Orthodox point of view,” Cardinal Koch said, “the church is present in every local church that celebrates the Eucharist, so each Eucharistic community is a complete church. Instead, from the Catholic point of view, a separate Eucharistic community is not a complete church. Therefore, a basis of the Catholic Church is the unity of separate Eucharistic communities with each other and the bishop of Rome. That is, the Catholic Church lives in the mutual intersection of local churches in one universal church.”
However, Cardinal Koch also stressed several ecumenical steps that both Churches should take that would help in continuing dialogue. The Catholic Church, he stressed, “should strengthen the argument for the importance of the life and work of the church of the primacy of the pope.” The cardinal also emphasized the need for the Orthodox Church to “boldly examine” its inclination towards nationalism, which he describes as its “main ecclesiological problem.”
“The most important thing is not to lose sight of the goal of ecumenical dialogue between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, which, at least from the Catholic point of view, can consist only in the restoration of a visible communion of churches,” Cardinal Koch concluded.