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East and West need to evangelise boldly, says Pope

By on Saturday, 3 September 2011

A view of St Catherine Russian Orthodox church and St Peter's Basilica in Rome (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

A view of St Catherine Russian Orthodox church and St Peter's Basilica in Rome (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Catholics and Orthodox Christians need to proclaim the Gospel with renewed energy, Benedict XVI has said.

“For a renewed proclamation of the Gospel in the modern world we need evangelisers animated by the same apostolic zeal St Paul had,” the Pope said in a message to Catholic and Orthodox scholars meeting in Salonika, Greece.

The Inter-Christian Symposium was sponsored by the Orthodox faculty of theology at the city’s Aristotle University and the Franciscan Institute of Spirituality at Rome’s Pontifical Antonianum University. The theme of the meeting was “The Witness of the Church in Today’s World”.

“In the course of the centuries, the Church has never stopped proclaiming the saving mystery of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, but that proclamation needs renewed energy today,” the Pope said.

“In the modern world we see two contradictory phenomena: On one side there is widespread distraction or even insensitivity to the transcendent; on the other, there are numerous signs that in the hearts of many people there remains a deep yearning for God.”

The challenge is the same for Catholics and for Orthodox believers, Pope Benedict said.

He said they need to recognise what Pope Paul VI wrote in 1975 in his apostolic letter on evangelisation: “As evangelizers, we must offer Christ’s faithful not the image of people divided and separated by unedifying quarrels, but the image of people who are mature in faith and capable of finding a meeting-point beyond the real tensions …. Yes, the destiny of evangelisation is certainly bound up with the witness of unity given by the Church.”

  • AgingPapist

    Unfortunately, as long as the east and west are divided the message both churches try to proclaim sounds hollow.  Roman, Orthodox,and Anglican churches must be united liturgically and sacramentally, if not at the corporate level, to make their message believable to non-believers.

  • Parasum

    Some of them – such as the monks of Mt. Athos – regard the Pope as Antichrist.  So – I think – does Ian Paisley (AKA Lord Bannside). If the Pope is not going to evangelise with Ian Paisley, and by extension with other Protestants who see him as the Glove Puppet of the Evil One – why evangelise with other Christians who hate the CC with no less energy ?

    It is pointless to think of evangelising with the Orthodox – they love certain Papal doctrines almost as much as certain Catholics who read what another columnist on this paper has called “the Fishwrap”. Why the cosying-up to Eastern heretics & Rome-haters, while rejecting their opposite numbers in the West ? By any reasonable standard, that nice Archbishop Alfeyev and his fellow-Oerthodox are as much heretics & schismatics as any of the betes noires from the National Catholic Reporter, or, in the opposite direction, the sedevacantists.

    This whole idea of evangelising with people who by Catholic standards are as doctrinally & ecclesially wanting as the Old Catholics, Anglicans, the Polish National Catholic Church or countless other groups, is intellectual and moral garbage. It’s bog-paper theology, and deserves to be treated in exactly the same way. In no sense whatever is it Catholic.

  • Anonymous

    The only two church’s that should heal their wounds and settle their past differences are the Roman Catholic church and the Eastern Orthodox Church. Because they are the only two TRUE churches in the World today.
    Protestant like the Anglicans, Lutherans and all the thousands of splinter factions have lost the truth, mostly in a vain attempt to fit in with Worldly ways and fashions of any particular time. The two true church’s must never compromise to any protestant church. Any dialogue with them is totally out of the question, until such time as they return to the truth of their roots, to do otherwise would be doing a deal with the devil himself,and that is a weakness that must never even be contemplated.

  • AgingPapist

    The only “true faith” is the Mystical Body of Christ.  Any differences between the members are purely academic and in no way disqualify   members from being part of that “true faith”.  All who are validly baptized and confirmed (chrismated) are members of the one true presbyterate of the laity. They need no priests or hierarchs unless they’re chosen as representatives and spokesmen for the church comprising that “presbyterate”.  The chergy’s role is and should be largely liturgical.

    The other differences between ecclesial bodies are simply a set of cultural, historical, linquistic issues which have created different religious entitites down through the centuries. Charges of heresy are used by power-seeking prelates and kings/emperors to consolidate their power and authority. Heresy means nothing today to anyone who isn’t a theologian and into ecclesial politics.  In short, the business of mind control.

    The “worldly ways and fashions” of Anglicans and Lutherans are no different from Rome and Constantinople’s equally and far worse “worldly ways and fashions”.  You are trying to draw differences which do not really exist.  We are all free to mold and shape the “true Church” any way we wish.  We always have and we always will.  The essential truths of Christianity, like history itself, can’t change no matter what any of us believe or try to get others to believe.

     Rome and the east live in the past and are content to live in the past dwelling upon faith and tradition.  That simply isn’t good enough.   Thinking Christians won’t allow  themselves to become tools of priest craft and superstition.   Anglicans and Lutherans (other Christian groups too)  are willing to look to the great unknown, to unasked questions, and old questions still troubling, and where there are no ready answers.  They’ve been liberated by embracing the principles of the enlightenment., science, and rationalism.
    No longer will they worship the gods of the pastadored by unquestioning peasants, there are too many new ones worth exploring.

  • AgingPapist

    All religions are ” doctrinally and ecclesially wanting” as you put it.  Rome and Byzantium are mere zones of opinion within the Mystical Body, no better, no worse than any other zone  No faith passes the smell test, or the laugh test.  Seeking your own truth(s) is the only true faith one can ever expect to embrace.

    The other formal belief systems are simply into power and mind control.

  • Jacob

    Umm are you serious? you think there’s no difference between what the Pope and Rowan Williams say?