Resolution closer on papal authority over Orthodox bishops

A Commission working to heal the 1000 year old rift between the Orthodox and Catholic Church has announced the Pope has primacy over all bishops - but the lines are still blurred as to what the Holy Father's authority entails.

The Associated Press reports that the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue reached the agreement during talks in Ravenna, Italy last month.

Pope Benedict said a "fundamental priority" of his pontificate is to heal the split of the two denominations.

The Commission agrees that Rome occupies the "first place" in canonical order of the ancient seats of bishops including Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem and that "the bishop of Rome was therefore the 'protos' (first in ancient Greek) among the patriarchs."

"However, they disagree on the interpretation of the historical evidence from this era regarding the prerogatives of the bishop of Rome as 'protos,'" the Commission's document stated.

"While the fact of primacy at the universal level is accepted by both East and West, there are differences of understanding with regard to the manner in which it is to be exercised, and also with regard to its scriptural and theological foundations," the document continued.

The Commission also concluded the role of the Pope in communion with other churches - must be studied in greater depth.

The meeting was the second since the Catholic-Orthodox theological dialogue resumed in 2006 after breaking off for six years.

The meeting was marred at the start when the delegates from the Russian Orthodox Church walked out over a territorial dispute with a rival Orthodox church.

Vatican-Orthodox agree pope has primacy
(InternationalHerald Tribune, 14/11/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Russian Orthodox Church Representation to the European Institutions(Raveena Document)
Joint Commission for the Theological Dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church (Vatican)
The Great Schism (Wikipedia)

Pope calls for prayers after Orthodox walk-out (CathNews, 11/10/07)
Papal primacy still stumbling block in Orthodox talks (CathNews, 26/09/06)
Catholic-Orthodox talks restart after six years (CathNews, 20/09/06)
Pell Pope says Catholics, Orthodox must work for unity (CathNews 19/12/05)

15 Nov 2007