Pope Francis in Georgia

Pope Francis recently visited the country of Georgia. Georgia is a majority Orthodox country with a small Roman and Greek Catholic Minority. The Holy Father attending a concert at the Patriarchal Cathedral. This is a short clip of the concert. It is breathtaking. Glory to God.

Recently, His Beatitude Sviatoslav spoke at a banquet in Canada. His full speech is well worth reading, especially in regards to the Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Institute. You can read the full address here.

His Beatitude makes an important theological, ecclesial, and political statement within this address. It is worth posting for all to see.

His Beatitude said:

Our Church has been singled out by the Kremlin’s propaganda machine as some sort of ultranationalist force bent on sowing hatred towards the Orthodox culture of Russia, and the single greatest impediment to worldwide Orthodox-Catholic reconciliation.

That is why I find it important to be able to stand before you today at this great university and state the following in the most unequivocal terms. The Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Church, the largest of the Eastern Catholic Churches is not in any way opposed to the Orthodox Churches. We are an Orthodox Church, with Orthodox theology, liturgy, spirituality and canonical tradition that chooses to manifest this Orthodoxy in the spirit of the first Christian millennium, in communion with Rome.  We are witnesses to the fact that Christian East and West not only have an obligation to seek some vague rapprochement, but are called by our Savior Himself to actually live the unity of one Body of Christ, not in the subjugation of one to another, but in the loving union of the Three Divine Persons who live not three lives parallel to each other, but one life: a life of self-emptying love, that gives life rather than take it. It is our mission, as a Church that experienced great persecution and martyrdom in the twentieth century, to stand up for those who experience such persecution today: our brothers and sisters the Copts of Egypt, the Melkites, Chaldeans, Syrian Orthodox, Assyrians, and others in the Middle East. It is our duty to help them tell their stories in this, one of the most respected forums of the world.

Amen.

ON ECUMENOCLASM: WHAT IS CHURCH

A balanced response to the Bulgarian Church’s withdrawal from the upcoming Great and Holy Council from Public Orthodoxy.

By limiting the Church to a visible institution, the Orthodox (Byzantine rite) Church, the Bulgarian approach negates the Pauline notion, taken up by many Fathers of the Church, of the Church as “the Body of Christ” (1 Co 12:12-31; Eph.4:11-13; Col. 1:24 etc.). In much patristic and modern reflection on the Church, this came to be expressed as the “mystical Body of Christ,” emphasizing that the Church extends well beyond the limits of the limits of the Orthodox Church. Christ is “the Way and the Truth and the Life” (Jn 14:6). The three characteristics form one whole. Thus wherever there is Truth, there also are the Way and Life – the way and life that are Christ Jesus. The essence of Church is the possession of Truth, the witness to Truth, and access to the means of salvation. While non-Orthodox Churches and communities do not possess the fullness of the Truth found only in the Orthodox Church, they nonetheless possess elements of the Truth, to the degree to which they witness to Jesus Christ and manifest his teachings. They thus participate in the Church of Christ and hence are indeed members of the Body of Christ, which entitles them to refer to themselves and to be referred to as “Church.”

More information on the Bulgarian Church’s decision can be found here at Byzantine, Texas