Istanbul, Turkey, Feb 20, 2010 / 16:14 pm
Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople’s newest encyclical encourages dialogue between the Orthodox Church and other Christian churches and laments those who are “unacceptably fanatical” in challenging such dialogue. He specifically condemned the false rumors spread about Catholic-Orthodox dialogue.
Patriarch Bartholomew’s patriarchal and synodal encyclical was dated Feb. 21, Orthodoxy Sunday, when the Orthodox Church celebrates the defeat of the iconoclastic heresy.
His letter began by noting the failure of those who tried to suppress, silence or falsify the Orthodox Church. He said that the Ecumenical Patriarchate cares about “protecting and establishing” the unity of the Orthodox Church in order that the Orthodox Christian faith may be confessed “with one voice and in one heart.”
Orthodoxy, he said, must be promoted with humility and interpreted in light of each historical period and cultural circumstance.
“To this purpose, Orthodoxy must be in constant dialogue with the world. The Orthodox Church does not fear dialogue because truth is not afraid of dialogue,” Bartholomew continued, saying that a Church enclosed within itself would no longer be “catholic.”
Dialogue with the outside world must first pass through all those who call themselves Christian, he wrote.
“We must first converse as Christians among ourselves in order to resolve our differences, in order that our witness to the outside world may be credible,” the Patriarch continued, citing Jesus’ prayer that all his disciples “may be one.”
From this source, the Ecumenical Patriarchate has conducted official Pan-Orthodox theological dialogues with the larger Christian Churches to discuss divisions in faith.