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
Today Pope Francis of Rome, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, and Archbishop Ieronymos II of Athens and All Greece, visited the Greek Island Lesvos. This island has seen a large number of refugees escaping violence in the Middle East. The three churchmen issued a joint statement.
We, Pope Francis, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece, have met on the Greek island of Lesvos to demonstrate our profound concern for the tragic situation of the numerous refugees, migrants and asylum seekers who have come to Europe fleeing from situations of conflict and, in many cases, daily threats to their survival. World opinion cannot ignore the colossal humanitarian crisis created by the spread of violence and armed conflict, the persecution and displacement of religious and ethnic minorities, and the uprooting of families from their homes, in violation of their human dignity and their fundamental human rights and freedoms.
The tragedy of forced migration and displacement affects millions, and is fundamentally a crisis of humanity, calling for a response of solidarity, compassion, generosity and an immediate practical commitment of resources. From Lesvos, we appeal to the international community to respond with courage in facing this massive humanitarian crisis and its underlying causes, through diplomatic, political and charitable initiatives, and through cooperative efforts, both in the Middle East and in Europe.
Continue reading “Joint Declaration by Pope and Orthodox Leaders”