Eastern Christianity

International Eucharistic Congress Features Russian Orthodox Speaker (9/6/21)

A Russian Orthodox leader said on Monday that belief in Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist unites Catholics and Eastern Orthodox believers despite their divisions. Click Here to learn more Follow on Facebook

Virus and Sharing the Eucharist with the Eastern Orthodox (5/25/20)

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Pope Francis March 27 characterized the worldwide trauma as: “God’s call on people to judge what is most important to them and resolve to act accordingly from now on.” Can this occasion also be a time of deeper communion among us? Click here to learn more

For the Life of the World Document

Introduction to the Eastern Orthodox Statement ‘For the life of the World’ (5/16/20)

Editor’s Note: Aristotle Papanikolaou is professor of theology, the Archbishop Demetrios Chair of Orthodox Theology and Culture, and the Co-Director of the Orthodox Christian Studies Center at Fordham University. He is also Senior Fellow at the Emory University Center for the Study of Law and Religion. Click Here to learn more

For the life of the World Document

The Orthodox Church understands the human person as having been created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26). To be made in God’s image is to be made for free and conscious communion and union with God in Jesus Christ, inasmuch as we are formed in, through, and for him (Colossians 1:16). Click Here to learn more

For the Ecumenical Trends October issue explaining the Life of the World document (2020)

It is just our personal calling, but our corporate destiny, through our participation in the community of Christ’s body, to enter into union with God. Therefore, our spiritual lives cannot fail also to be social lives. Click Here to learn more

Eastern Christians and the Laity (2019)

The North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation has released a new agreed statement entitled, The Vocation and Mission of the People of God: “A Chosen Race, a Royal Priesthood, a Holy Nation”. The document was finalized at the most recent meeting of the Consultation which took place in late May of this year at the Saint Methodios Faith and Heritage Center in Contoocook, New Hampshire. Click Here to learn more

For Pope Francis to the Ecumenical Delegation of the Patriarch of Constantinople, (June 28, 2019)

I offer a cordial greeting and a warm welcome to you, the distinguished members of the Delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate whom my beloved brother Bartholomew and the Holy Synod have sent on the occasion of the Solemnity of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul. Your presence manifests the solid bonds existing between the Churches of Rome and Constantinople, and our common effort to journey towards the fullness of communion for which we long, in obedience to the clear will of Jesus (cf. Jn 17:21). The feast of Saints Peter and Paul, which falls on the same day in the liturgical calendars of East and West, invites us to renew the charity that generates unity. Click Here to learn more

Also see June 28th, 2021

I greet you with joy and I welcome you with affection to Rome for the Solemnity of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul. I thank Metropolitan Emmanuel for his kind and brotherly words. This annual exchange of delegations between the Church of Rome and that of Constantinople for the feasts of our respective Patrons is a sign of the communion – real, albeit not yet full – which we already share. Click Here to learn more

Fundamentalism and Eastern Christianity: The following item contains some good data about current developments withing the Eastern Orthodox Church. however, the item is written by Protestant Fundamentalists, and they insert some very harmful interpretations of the data. Most of our readers will see the slanting; you are welcome to contact me if you have questions. Click Here to learn more

Christian Churches in the Ukraine; halfway down, see other items on a common date for Easter, joint meeting of Putin and Trump, etc: (2018)
(My thanks to Fr. Dan Nassaney, OMI, for providing this and the item below) Click Here to learn more

In this file photo taken May 25, 2010, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople left, and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill tour the Kremlin durig a meeting i Maoscow, Russia (Dmitry Astakhov, Sputnik, Government Pool Photo via AP, file)

For Story of June 27, 2918 attached to the photo on the right:

Within the span of a week, Pope Francis met with the spiritual head of Eastern Orthodoxy, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, and the representatives of the Russian Orthodox Patriarchate of Moscow. Click Here to learn more

The Sign of the Cross Unites Eastern Christians with US (2017)

At midday today, the Holy Father Francis received in audience the members of the Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Assyrian Church of the East. The following is the Pope’s address to those present: Click Here to learn more

Two recent developments

  • First, we have two interesting descriptions of the Great and Holy Council (see third paragraph below). Martin Marty, who maintains a blog at the University of Chicago, where he teaches, put it this way: “A Holy and Small Great Council” (July 5, 2016).
    But Archdeacon John Chryssavgis, theological advisor to Patriarch Bartholowmew, writing in the Melkite journal Sophia, noted: “The Holy and Great Council is entirely without precendant in the history of Christianity” (Summer, 2016, p.19).
  • Secondly, a very interesting article by Ms. Rosanna Rodriguez, a member of the Ecumenical Commission of the Archdiocese of Newark, NJ, “An Ecclesiology of Rapprochment: Catholic and Oriental Orthodox Churches as Sister Churches,” Ecumenical Trends 46, #5 (May 2017): 5/69, quotes Fr. Robert Taft, S.J.: “This new ‘Sister Churches’ designation represents a startling revolution in how the Catholic Church views itself. We Catholics are no longer the only one, whole, true Church of Christ, but one sister Church among others” emphasis in original in Worship, “In faith and Worship Can Orthodox and Catholics ever be One?” 89, #1 (Jan. 2015:5).

Chrysostom: Our Common Ground, as Greek Orthodox and Melkites Cooperate in the USA: (Please scroll down to page 30) (2017)

I am writing this message from our west coast Cathedral of St Anne in California, having arrived here on 3 January hoping to make pastoral visits to all the west coast communities and a few possible new outreaches in Las Vegas NV, Portland OR, Mission Viejo, CA, and Bakersfield, CA. Click Here to learn more (need to link)spring newsletter (large file)

November 30th message of Pope Francis to Patriarch Bartholomew. Especially for the Patriarch at Asisi. (2016)

At the end of his General Audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis greeted the church of Constantinople, and the “beloved Patriarch Bartholomew” on the occasion of the Feast of the Apostle St Andrew, traditionally held to be the founder of the See of Byzantium, which later became the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Click Here to learn more

Bartholomew, Patriarch of Constantinople, and Ieronymos II, Archbishop of Athens and All Greece, left the Great and Holy Synod of Orthodoxy, June 17-26, on Crete, and proceeded to Rome, where the Patriarch has either personally or through a high representative, attended the Feast of Sts Peter and Paul, June 29. (On November 30, the Feast of St. Andrew, Rome reciprocates with a delegation to Constantinople). Pope Francis’ moving address to the Orthodox delegation. Click Here to learn more

The presence of the Archbishop of Athens is especially noteworthy. St. John Paul II had wanted to visit the Greek Orthodox Church, but because of the ancient hostility towards Roman Catholicism, he received an invitation only from the President of Greece. The archbishop was notably absent during John Paul’s visit of May, 2001, but his attitude changed remarkably, when during that visit, John Paul asked God to pardon the sins of Roman Catholicism towards Orthodoxy during the last millennium.

The presence of Ieronymos, successor of the archbishop of 2001, is very noteworthy, and marks a great progress in Christian Unity

The absence of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia did hamper the Synod on Crete. But much was still accomplished. For the official English final document, called an Encyclical.

The offer by Pope Francis to give up our date for Easter and use the date of the Eastern Orthodox Churches (Click Here to learn more)

2015 Letters Orientale Conference, June 15-18 (for 2013 Conference, scroll to the bottom of this page)

It was my privilege last week June 15-18, 2015 to participate again this year in the Orientale Lumen Conference in Washington, DC. The theme was: The Bishop of Rome: Past, Present and Future. Click Here to learn more

Ron Roberson CPS, The Eastern Christian Churches, A Brief Survey (Washington, D.C. U.S.A. Catholic Conference 7th ed. 2008) is available in paperback for $19.95; For Roberson explains lucidly the complexity of Eastern Christianity.

To experience Holy Week in a Russian Orthodox setting is unforgettable. As we approach Easter this year, the following article may be helpful. Please Click Here to view the article

There are two tendencies to avoid as we witness to the love of Jesus. One tendency is described in the very short article below by Catholic missiologist/ecumenists Stephen Bevans, SVD, and Roger Schroeder, SVD, as they review Ralph Martin’s book Will Many Be Saved? Martin wants to restore to our witness the wrath of God and the narrowness of salvation which he thinks Vatican II neglected. Your reaction to Bevans and Schroeder’s rejection of this is welcome. Click Here to learn more

PopeFrancisHolylandLogoThe words on the picture to the right are Latin and Greek for “So that they may be one,” from St. John’s Gospel 17:21. The explanation given on the official website: “This is to commemorate and renew the commitment to unity expressed by Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras of Constantinople 50 years ago in Jerusalem.”

Very importantly, for all Christians, the authors continue: “This gives expression to the desire of the Lord at the Last Supper: ‘I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one (bold in original)….so that the world may believe that you sent me'” (20-21).

The authors then explain the symbolism: The two brothers, Peter and Andrew are “the first two disciples called by Jesus in Galilee. Saint Peter is the patron of the Church in Rome and Saint Andrew is the patron of the Church in Constantinople. In Jerusalem, in the Mother Church, they embrace. The two apostles are in a boat that represents the Church, whose mast is the Cross of the Lord. The sails of the boat are full of wind, the Holy Spirit, which directs the boat as it sails across the waters of this world.”


PopeandPatriach After both kissed the tomb where Jesus lay, they proceeded to the adjacent chapel. The Gospel account of the Resurrection of Jesus from John was chanted in Greek, and the Patriarch gave his address in English. He cited Jo. 17:21 in Latin (which the official translation doesn’t notice). His address deserves to be carefully studied, especially his rejection of religious fanaticism and fear of the other.

The Gospel account of the Resurrection from Matthew was read in Latin next, and the Pope gave his address in Italian, including in Greek the Easter greeting “Christos anesti!” (Christ is risen).

It seemed that each went out of his way to praise the Church of the other. When Bartholomew finished his address and returned to his chair next to Francis, Francis reached for his hand, kissed it and then Bartholomew bent over and warmly embraced him. When Francis finished his address, Bartholomew stood and embraced him warmly.

It was evident that the 77 year old Francis was having difficulty rising and going down steps; the 74 year old Bartholomew assisted him. As I watched the live broadcast, the example of these two leaders was even more expressive than their startling addresses.

Their two addresses and their Common Declaration are being thoroughly examined by Christians, Jews, Moslems, People of Other Faiths, and All People of Good Will. As the authors of the Motto and Logo express it: “the unity of Christians is a message of unity for all humanity, called to overcome the divisions of the past and march forward together towards a future of justice, peace, reconciliation and fraternal love.”

So the Common Declaration of May 25 states that in a time “marked by violence, indifference and egoism, many men and women today feel that they have lost their bearings. It is precisely through our common witness to the good news of the Gospel that we may be able to help the people of our time to rediscover the way that leads to truth, justice and peace” (#9). Click here for the Common Declaration.

As committed Christians, we know that Christ is the only way. True to the New Evangelization, we do not hit people over the heads with that truth.

Oblates of Mary note how the Common Declaration and the Address of Pope Francis conclude by commending us to Mary.

The Pope and Patriarch met four times during the weekend visit. The scheduled one from 6:15-7 on May 25 went 45 minutes longer. So we will continue in future items to examine this most crucial development for New Evangelization, Ecumenism and Dialogue.

No one knows how long the official website with all the addresses, with photos, and with so much material on the background of the trip, will stay posted.

Polish Oblate Bishop helps Ukrainians and Russians live together

STATEMENT OF THE ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP IN CRIMEA Since many weeks now the Roman Catholic Church with her prayers accompany whole of Ukraine praying for the peaceful solution of the problems, which the country is struggling with. In our prayers we ask God for his mercy for all Ukrainian people and we also offer voluntary fasting on bread and water in the same intention. Today when the unrest has encompassed the Crimean territory we want to pray especially for our peninsula. With our prayer we reach out to all the people without concern for their religion, political views or ethnic background. We pray that the people, who for tens of years live in peace – do not start fighting today and that the bloodshed of the kind we have seen in Kiev Maidan may be avoided here. I am calling on all the people both faithful and the others that in the name of the solidarity with the heritage of our Fathers, who cared for the development of our Autonomous Republic of Crimea, to stay away from extremisms and in this hard time do not let the brotherhood among Crimean people to be broken. In ARoC we have Ukrainians, Russians, Crimean Tartars, Armenians, Poles, Germans, Czechs and many others living peacefully together. For many centuries we had the Orthodox, Muslims, Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Caraims, people of other denominations together with atheists living in Crimea. We cannot let our ethnical background nor our religion to divide us now. We are children of the same God; the only God, who is our common Father. The motto of the Republic of Crimea which is inscribed into our coat of arms is „Процветание в единстве” (Blooming in unity) and may this words be our motto for the difficult time now. I would like to reach out with my words to the faithful of all denominations that they keep praying for peace, and those who has decided so keep voluntarily fasting. May the Good God free our hearts from all evil temptations and may he bless our good intentions.

+ Jacek Pyl, OMI Auxiliary Bishop of Odessa-Simferopol Diocese

Historic Statement of Aug. 17 between the Christians of Poland and Russia

Patriarch Kirill I (Cyril) of the Russian Orthodox Church (the largest of all the Eastern Orthodox Churches) and Archbishop Jozef Michalik, Chairman of the Bishops’ Conference of Poland, signed this emotional and historic statement of reconciliation, in Warsaw, Poland, on Aug. 17, 2012. Zenit has furnished the actual text, from the Vatican Radio translation. . Waclaw Hryniewicz OMI, an Oblate theologian who spent many years as a member of the Catholic-Orthodox International Dialogue, made the following reflection:

Personally I have devoted to the dialogue with the Orthodox more than forty years of my life. I am very glad and grateful that Polish and Russian hierarchs, Catholic and Orthodox, have taken this significant and concrete step towards reconciliation among our Churches and nations. But this is only the beginning. One has to work hard on it, to change the mentality of both clergy and lay people towards more openness, benevolence and mutual trust. It is not an easy task. Already there are opponents who reject this historic initiative. May God give us the courage to change what should be changed—our own minds and hearts.

(Father Hryniewicz made a marvelous presentation at the former Oblate Center for Mission Studies, Washington, DC, on March 20, 1995: “Contemporary Issues in the Dialogue between The Orthodox Church and The Roman Catholic Church.” George McLean OMI was the promoter of this meeting).

A short explanation form Ecumenical News International, with Pope Benedict’s praise of the Russian-Polish statement, follows here.

Russian, Polish churches sign reconciliation agreement
By Sophia Kishkovsky, 20 August 2012

(ENInews). Patriarch Kirill I of the Russian Orthodox Church and Roman Catholic Archbishop Jozef Michalik of Przemysl signed in Warsaw on 17 August a statement of reconciliation meant to overcome historical and religious differences and focus on the churches’ common stance on traditional values.

Kirill’s 16-19 August visit was the first to Poland by a head of the Russian church.

The document referred to a shared experience of totalitarianism, saying it is something that can bring the nations together.

Although not referred to specifically, relations between the two countries were strained over the 1940 Katyn massacre in southwest Russia in which Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin’s secret police killed thousands of Polish army officers and intelligentsia. At the time, the Soviet government ascribed it to Nazi Germany. In the post-Soviet era, Russia refused to call the Katyn massacre a crime or acknowledge its scale.

The text of the churches’ memorandum called on Russians and Poles to forgive, but not to forget, saying that historians and specialists must continue to search for “un-falsified historic truth.”

“We call on our faithful to ask forgiveness for the hurt they have caused one another, for the injustice and all evil. We believe that this is the first and most important step to the restoration of mutual trust without which there can be neither a strong human community nor true reconciliation,” said the document.

The memorandum has been compared to a 1965 letter sent by Polish bishops to their German counterparts that paved the way for improved relations after the atrocities of the Second World War.

“To forgive means to reject revenge and hatred,” states the memorandum, which adds that Russian and Polish Christians can created a united front against the moral challenges of the secular.

In a greeting to Polish pilgrims at his summer residence at Castel Gandolfo near Rome on 19 August, Pope Benedict XVI described the reconciliation statement as “an important event, which gives us hope for the future” and expresses “the desire to cultivate the fraternal union and to collaborate in spreading Gospel values in the world today,” the Vatican website reported.
Source: ENI (which has been taken down)

Melkites and Oblates of Mary: Help

The Eastern Church which descends from Antioch with Byzantine/Greek heritage, including an Arabic dimension, and is in union with Rome, is the Melkite Church. The current Patriarch, Gregory III Laham, is known to many Oblates from his days as a student priest in our International (Roman) Scholasticate, when he was Lufti Laham (1959-61). Part of his responsibility then was to provide Divine Liturgy for the 7 seminarians of his order, the Basilians of the Holy Savior, who lived with the Oblates and studied at the Gregorian University.

The editor is attempting to find out what happened to these seminarians and three more who arrived in 1961. His classmate, Fr. Said Abboud, was tragically killed in the bombing of his church (Lebanon or Syria) in the 1980’s, but what has happened to the following is very difficult to learn, despite several attempts: Arsene (Sami Bechara) Dagher, Euthyme (Emile Rizcallah) Moussa, Elie Assaf, Nakle Makoul, Saba Fakouri, Georges Nachef, Georges Abou-Zeid, Adil Fakouri, and Jean Frejatte. Any information may be directed to the editor of this website.

Most people who view this website are Western Christians, i.e. belonging to a Church with its main roots in Western Europe or North America such as Protestant Churches and Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic Church. By Latin Rite, we mean those Catholics who used Latin at Mass until the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) encouraged the use of the vernacular. Although fewer in number than Latin Rite Catholics, Eastern Catholics (who do acknowledge the pope’s authority), and the Oriental and Eastern Orthodox Christians (who do not acknowledge the pope’s authority), have a rich and precious heritage which we Western Christians desperately need.

Pope John Paul II expressed it this way: “The church must breath with her two lungs” (That All May Believe, #54). We cannot be effective missionaries or witnesses to Jesus’ love, unless we have both the Eastern and Western lungs healthy and working together.

If you have a friend who belongs to one of the Eastern Churches ask them to take you to their worship. You will find a vital expression of Christianity which goes back to the earliest days of our faith.

Peter and Andrew
The icon of the brother apostles Peter and Andrew embracing, given to Pope Paul VI by Patriarch Athenagoras when they met in the Holy land in 1964. On display in the Vatican.

The Icon of Peter and Andrew embracing symbolizes the growing unity of the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches. Andrew, brother of Peter, is the patron of Constantinople; Peter of Rome. On the feast of St. Andrew (Nov. 30), each year a high papal representative travels to Constantinople to take part in the observance. On the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul (June 30), each year a high patriarchal representative travels to Rome to take part in the observance.

Let us join in prayer and action that all Christian Churches may converge without compromise for the sake of better witness to the message and person of Jesus Christ.


The Catholic Near East Welfare Association produces a remarkable magazine six times a year, ONE. The issue for September, 2010 (36, 5) is a marvelous summary of the religious and economic situation in each of the 11 countries of the Middle East and Jerusalem.

Annual Orientale Lumen Conference (XVII), Vision of a United Church, June 17-20, 2013, Washington, DC Retreat House

(I’m indebted to Dan Nassaney, a bi-ritual USA Oblate [Latin-Melkite] for his insightful summary).

The conference was excellent; the theme centered on steps toward a Reunited Church. Melkite Patriarch Gregory III (ed. Note: an old friend of the Oblates; he lived as a student priest in our International Scholasticate) sent an address, in which he described the efforts of Middle East Churches in Iraq, Egypt and Syria to work together and create Councils of Churches. The Patriarch quoted the newly chosen Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, John X, to a press conference: “We are very concerned with relations with the other Christian churches and we will work on this with our Muslim brothers in this county …I ask for the prayers and love of all, just as I ask for us to be as one hand in this country.“

Most of the presentations were excellent. The talks are available from Lumen Orientale in both CD and DVD form. I recommend especially those of Father Thomas FitzGerald, from Holy Cross Greek Orthodox College, Brookline, MA, (to better understand the real history of Catholic-Orthodox division) and Archimandrite Robert Taft, SJ, (for a candid and knowledgeable look at the state of Catholic-Orthodox ecumenical efforts).

If some conclusions can be drawn: our theological differences need not separate us. Modern theological and historical studies show that we are misunderstood more than divided. The theological differences no longer justify division.

Basic problems center on how Roman primacy may be of service to the Church and the use of authority and power in the various Churches. Catholic Church structures facilitate ecumenical decisions. The synodal character of the Orthodox union of Churches makes it more difficult to come to common decisions.

Ecumenical realities in the Middle East, where catholic and orthodox peoples and Churches have suffered under local governments, have progressed to common actions and recognitions. The home of the first Christian Churches is again leading the way and giving examples of mutual love.

This Conference is an excellent yearly meeting to not only learn what is happening and has occurred but also to grow personally, witness to the importance of Catholic-Orthodox ecumenism, and encourage our own local communities to commit to a reunited Church of East and West.

(When we had our national Oblate Convocation at Belleville, IL, April 15-19, 2013, Dan took a major part in the Interest Session on Christian Unity, which was held twice. At the end of the second session, Dan turned to Ron Rolheiser, who had also taken a major part, and urged Ron to look at the offerings of Oblate School of Theology, San Antonio, where Ron is the president, and see if Eastern Christianity has the part in all the courses which it should have. He also recommended that there be a chapel on the grounds for Eastern Christians.) Click Here to learn more