Vatican II on Ecumenism and the Eastern Orthodox Church

By Kharlamov, Vladimir | Journal of Ecumenical Studies, Spring-Summer 2001 | Go to article overview

Vatican II on Ecumenism and the Eastern Orthodox Church


Kharlamov, Vladimir, Journal of Ecumenical Studies


Since its beginning the Christian church has had a propensity toward unity--one Christ, one church, one salvation. That is, the struggle for unity was a very strong motivation for Christian communities that forced the development of doctrines and the resolution of heresies. However, diversity of opinions, differences in cultural and political life, and personal ambitions often threatened this unity. The Christian Church historically and presently comprises a very divergent and sometimes heterogeneous group of believers. The level of diversity varies through the centuries. We still have Monophysite churches in Egypt, Ethiopia, and Armenia; the great division of 1054 between East and West is not fully resolved, and there are a multitude of Protestant denominations and sects.

The purpose of this essay is to present a concise analysis of the Roman Catholic approach to ecumenism as it is presented in the documents of Vatican II and in the post-conciliar documents related to this subject. A brief assessment of the theological and practical issues related to ecumenical dialogue between Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches from the convocation of the Council to the present is also included in this research.

In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, we see no official church-to-church attempts to search for unity. Instead, ecumenical witness was initiated by some individuals such as John Amos Comenius, who developed a plan for union among Protestants that was based upon scripture as a ground for all doctrine and state structure as well as the integration of all human culture. Others--such as John Dury and Richard Baxter in England, George Calixtus in Germany, and Nicholas von Zinzendorf in Moravia--also attempted to unify some Protestant denominations. Gottfried Leibniz made a great effort to reconcile Protestants and Roman Catholics. Even in Russia in the nineteenth century, Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow and Russian Orthodox theologian Aleksey Khomyakov expressed enthusiasm for Christian unity. However, all these attempts accomplished nothing of significance.

Historical Excursus

The movement toward greater unity among Christian churches received its primary impetus in the nineteenth century from the missionary movement, which was predominantly initiated by and affiliated with Protestant denominations. A world conference on Christian missions held in Edinburgh in 1910 inspired ecumenical concern and resulted in the creation of ecumenical organizations that combined in 1948 to form the World Council of Churches. Some Orthodox theologians and high clergy were more or less actively participating in the ecumenical movement prior to Vatican II, which served to launch active Catholic involvement in the work of this movement. Joachim III of Constantinople, in his "Patriarchal and Synodical Encyclical of 1902," addressed the issue of unity in the church and that of Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant relations. Joachim referred to this issue in his other documents as well. (1) Even more, the idea to establish a "koinonia of churches" belongs to the Ecumenical Patriarchate, as was stated in its 1920 encyclical. (2) However, only three Eastern churches and one Orthodox episcopate participated at the inaugural Assembly at Amsterdam in I 943. (3) The rest of the Orthodox churches, with the exception of the Russian Orthodox Church, were actively involved in the work of both the Faith and Order and the Life and Work movements during the 1920's and 1930's. In the period between 1961 and 1965 all autocephalous and autonomous Eastern Orthodox churches became members of the W.C.C. (4)

The Catholic Church remained aloof from these developments. There were Roman Catholic centers in Europe that observed the ecumenical movement, but Rome did not participate in the movement. Every year, from January 18-25, however, the Catholic Church prayed for Christian unity. The general idea of those days, until 1959, was particularly centered on the return and union of other Christians with the Roman Church. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Vatican II on Ecumenism and the Eastern Orthodox Church
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.