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Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Cardinal Koch waiting for Pan-Orthodox Council prior to an ecumenical breakthrough

Kardinal Koch: Ökumenisches Warten auf ein gesamtorthodoxes Konzil – kipa/apic

A stumbling block in relations between the Catholic and the Orthodox Churches continues to be the Pope's primacy, Cardinal Kurt Koch said in an interview with the press agency Kipa in Einsiedeln in Switzerland. It is now necessary to wait for the Council before there are any further decisive ecumenical steps. - Cardinal Kurt Koch was staying on 20 May in Einsiedeln on the occasion of an Aid to the Church in Need pilgrimage .

In 2007 in Ravenna (in Italy), there was a meeting of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church. On that occasion an agreement on the question of the primacy of the Bishop of Rome was near, Koch said.

For the first time separated churches stated in a common expert document that, according to the tradition of the church that at a universal level there was pre-eminence of a "Primus" as had the Bishop of Rome during the first millennium. - The document was entitled "Ecclesiological and canonical consequences of the sacramental nature of the Church; conciliarity and authority in the Church ."

In the 46 points of comprehensive document, both sides agreed in Ravenna that Rome "took first place in the order of the undivided church of the first millennium and that therefore the Bishop of Rome was first among the patriarchs". He was first of the five major Sees of Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem. However, what remained unclear was how this primacy should be exercised on a universal level, said the text.

There was "disagreement on the interpretation of historical documents from that time on the privileges of the Bishop of Rome as the Primus." The primacy at local, metropolitan and universal level is a practice firmly grounded in the canonical tradition of the Church said the joint statement. But "while the fact of primacy at the universal level of both East and West, is accepted, there are differences of understanding regarding the manner in which it is to be exercised and also in terms of its biblical and theological basis."

Rejected by the Moscow Patriarch

In March 2011, however, the Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill I declared, according to Cardinal Koch, that he would never approve the document of Ravenna. So there is now no other solution than waiting for the work of the future pan-Orthodox council whose results would be important for the future of ecumenism, said Koch.

The preparatory work for the implementation of a pan-Orthodox council began half a century ago. A council would gather for the first time for over 1,100 years the 14 Eastern Orthodox Churches.

The Swiss Kurt Koch, former Bishop of the Diocese of Basel has been since 1 July 2010 President of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity at the Vatican. He followed the German Cardinal Walter Kasper. Pope Benedict XVI chose Kurt Koch not least because of his good knowledge of the Reformed churches.
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