Showing posts with label Eastern Orthodox. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Eastern Orthodox. Show all posts

Friday, October 25, 2013

Could this lead to Orthodox-Catholic unity on the papacy and beyond?

Apostle Peter Preaching by Lorenzo Veneziano, 1370 (acquired from Wikimedia Commons)

Recently, I reviewed perspectives on the office of the papacy from both the Catholic Church and a current Orthodox view. I'll begin with the Orthodox view, as articulated by Orthodox Metropolitan Kallistos Ware in early 2011 (all of his quotes herein come from between 28:00-47:00 of this recording). He believes the matter of the papacy to be the critical foundation toward unity on all divergent views of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches:
I truly believe that if we Orthodox and Catholics can make genuine progress on the way we understand primacy, then most of the other issues that arise between us could be solved.
Praying for the Church, it was Christ to the Father petitioning "that they may be one, even as we are one." (John 17:12) At the heart of all the councils and documents, which can sometimes give the appearance of imprudent bureaucracy, the goal here is one of love. This is the ultimate goal of every action of any Christian from the highest hierarchical level to the lowest lay level in every aspect of life. These two Churches have so much in common and recognize the validity of each others' priesthood and the sacrament of unity, the Eucharist. (cf. Joint International Commission, #13, 1993) Like Metropolitan Ware and all of the recent Popes, I have a certain optimism toward reconcilement of the two Churches. (See also comments on Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis I on Orthodox relations in prior post.)

Metropolitan Ware begins with a reference to The Ravenna Statement, a 2007 joint document between officials of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches regarding the primacy of the Pope, the Bishop of Rome:
In the Ravenna Statement it is stated unambiguously, "The fact of primacy at the universal level is accepted by both East and West." And that statement was endorsed by all the delegates, the Orthodox as well as the Catholics. …  Now, this statement stressing the existence of universal primacy is the first time, at any rate in recent history, that the Orthodox Church at a high official level, has affirmed in principle, the universal primacy of the Bishop of Rome. …  But the question then arises, what kind of universal primacy is meant? How is it to be interpreted?
We begin with this common point: the Bishop of Rome exercises a "universal primacy." Both the "East" (Orthodox) and "West" (Catholics) hold to this basic statement. The extent of what that means remains in negotiation. Metropolitan Ware nevertheless believes The Ravenna Statement is a crucial document in reconciling the Catholic and Orthodox understanding of the papacy because it cites an ancient canon especially revered by the Orthodox:

[T]he statement of Ravenna offers us a precious guideline. It appeals to the 34th apostolic canon. Now, I don't think the apostolic canons, which are 4th century in date, are particularly well known in the western canonical tradition. But for the Christian East, the apostolic canons have always been held in very high regard, especially the 34th apostolic canon, which is seen as the touchstone for primacy. … Now, the canon says, "The bishops of each province must recognize the one who is first––" protos is the Greek word "––the one who is first among them, and consider him to be their head. And they must not do anything important without his consent. But the first, the protos, cannot do anything without the consent of all."
In other words, Metropolitan Ware believes reconcilement on the papacy can be achieved if this mutual dependence of sorts, as articulated in Apostolic Canon 34, be harmonious with any view of papal primacy. 

Consider a final, lengthier quote from the Metropolitan on what remains unresolved regarding this canon and Catholic teaching:
The 34th apostolic canon suggests a relation, a mutual relation, between the one who is first and the other bishops. The protos, the head, the first, is not to do anything without consulting the others. But the others are not to do anything without consulting him. So the pattern here is mutuality, reciprocal concord, co-responsibility, interdependence. So if we apply this to papal primacy, it means that the members of the episcopal college and equally the patriarchs of the East cannot act without their head, the Pope. But equally, the Pope cannot act without the members of the episcopal college and the Eastern patriarchs. Now, I wonder how far such an understanding of papal primacy can be reconciled with the decrees of the first Vatican council, or, for that matter, of its successor Vatican II. In the dogmatic constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, the document of Vatican II, it is clearly said that the college of bishops cannot act without its head the Pope, whereas the Pope can very well act without the college, section 22. In the words of the nota explicativa praevia [an appendix to Lumen Gentium], section 4, "As supreme pastor of the Church, the sovereign pontiff can always exercise his authority as he chooses while the college of bishops acts only at intervals and only at the consent of its head." Now that doesn't seem to correspond to the kind of reciprocal relationship that the Ravenna statement envisages when it invokes apostolic canon 34. If it proves possible to reinterpret the authority of the Pope in the perspective of this canon, here is certainly an understanding of papal primacy that may well prove acceptable to the Orthodox Church. For this reason, I regard the Ravenna statement as a document full of hope. 

The bottom line from this Orthodox perspective is thus: The Orthodox can embrace a Catholic view of the papacy if it is in accord with apostolic canon 34. Yet Vatican I and Vatican II contain statements that seem unfaithful to canon 34. How can this be resolved?

At the first Vatican council was articulated the definition of papal infallibility. This dogma is at the heart of the Roman bishop making other dogmatic statements on faith or morals by virtue of his office. Elsewhere in Metropolitan Ware's talk, he expressed disapproving concern at the idea that a member of the Church could be able to so act as an island. Mutuality was his repeated concern.

I think it is helpful if we rewind even before the final decrees of Vatican I, and examine what led up to the decree on papal infallibility. Recently I finished reading through The Gift of Infallibility: The Official Relatio on Infallibility of Bishop Vincent Ferrer Gasser at Vatican Council I. This text is basically a behind-the-scenes look at Vatican I, as the bishops came to understand what was meant by the concept of infallibility as it related to the office of the papacy. Bishop Gasser oversaw a committee clarifying the defining paragraph on infallibility at Vatican I as well as reviewing suggestions submitted by other bishops. The value of this document is that it clarifies the intent of the final definition and perhaps dispels misinterpretations of the definition that were not intended by the bishops.

One thing I derived from reading this text is how papal infallibility is a gift of a singular office, yet intertwined in little-known ways with the Church itself and the Church's corporate infallibility.

Following are some observations of the text. References in parentheses are ebook locations.

Bishop Gasser described an interesting theological perspective on papal infallibility as put forth by Cardinal Thomas Cajetan, a sixteenth century theologian:
[T]o use the words of Cardinal Cajetan––from the fact that when the Pope makes a judicial and definitive decision determining that it must be held as such by the Church then it is clear that we are all bound to accept his decision and that whoever pertinaciously clings to the opposite view is considered a heretic. Therefore the whole Church is able to err, following the decision of a Pope, if the Pope in such a definition is able to err. Therefore it must be believed that the promise of Christ made to the Church, viz., "The Holy Spirit will teach you all truth" (Jn 16:13), is fulfilled through one person with no more difficulty than through a multitude, thus preserving the divine order which governs the lower through the higher and the higher through the uppermost. (278-284) 
It is understood in the Catholic Church that the Church, due to the operation of the Holy Spirit, corporately has the gift of infallibility (i.e. to teach without error in defining for the whole Church matters of faith or morals, cf. Jn 16:13, et al). It is also understood in the Church to accept as infallible similar definitions of the Pope. Thus, in simple terms, the above paragraph means the following: If the Pope has the protection of infallibility, and the Church accepts his teaching, then the Church will remain infallible in doing so. However, if the Pope does not have the protection of infallibility, the Church could therefore accept an erroneous teaching of the Church, and thus the Church corporately would not have the gift of infallibility. This would violate the promise of the Spirit given to the Apostles. The Catholic Church is arranged such that the entire Church believes an infallible statement of the Pope, because it is ultimately an errorless statement of the Holy Spirit. And since the Orthodox have expressed certain agreement to papal primacy, this analogy by Cajetan may prove helpful since it ties the Pope to the other bishops.

Whether or not one accepts the Catholic concept of infallibility in the first place, I think there's an important point here not to be missed: The idea of papal infallibility rises or falls with the infallibility of the corporate Church.

In speaking to the bishops prior to the vote, Gasser describes this nuance:
[T]here belongs to the Roman Pontiff a separate infallibility. But in saying this we do not separate the Pontiff from his ordained union with the Church. For the Pope is only infallible when, exercising his function as teacher of all Christians and therefore representing the whole Church, he judges and defines what must be believed or rejected by all. He is no more able to be separated from the universal Church than the foundation from the building it is destined to support. (loc 492-496)
[W]e do not separate the Pope, defining, from the cooperation and consent of the Church, at least in the sense that we do not exclude this cooperation and this consent of the Church. ... Therefore the Pope, by reason of his office and the gravity of the matter, is held to use the means suitable for properly discerning and aptly enunciating the truth. These means are councils, or the advice of the bishops, cardinals, theologians, et cetera. Indeed, the means are diverse according to the diversity of situations, and we should piously believe that, in the divine assistance promised to Peter and his successors by Christ, there is simultaneously contained a promise about the means which are necessary and suitable to make an infallible pontifical judgment. ... [W]e do not separate the Pope, even minimally, from the consent of the Church, as long as that consent is not laid down as a condition that is either antecedent or consequent. We are not able to separate the Pope from the consent of the Church because this consent is never able to be lacking to him. (loc 496-508)
In brief, what Gasser is saying here is that the Pope remains united to the Church and is "held to use" means necessary to formulate a definition (such as councils, bishop advice, etc.), but that this cannot be an absolutely mandatory aspect of the charism of papal infallibility. He subsequently explains why.

He says when we consider whether or not there necessarily must be formal consent of the Magisterium when making a definition, we reach the matter's "extreme point." By this, he means it is possible to discern the Church's teaching via existing sources of the faith, such as Scripture, antiquity, etc... In his own words, Gasser explains:
It is true that the Pope in his definitions ex cathedra has the same sources (fontes) that the Church has, viz., Scripture and tradition. It is true that the consent of the present preaching of the whole Magisterium of the Church, united with its head, is a rule of faith even for pontifical definitions. But from all that it can in no way be deduced that there is a strict and absolute necessity of seeking that consent from the rulers of the Churches or from the bishops. I say this because this consent is very frequently able to be deduced from the clear and manifest testimonies of Sacred Scripture, from the consent of antiquity, that is, of the holy Fathers, from the opinion of theologians and from other private means, all of which suffice for full information about the fact of the Church's consent. (loc 591-596)
In saying there is not a "strict and absolute necessity" of formal consent, Gasser's above caveat seems to be a stereotypical view of the papacy – that the Pope can and will operate in a rogue manner, as if alien to the Church, and could, in theory, violate a united voice from the Church. Yet what is the context of this statement? It is immediately preceded by the idea that  consent of other bishops is a "rule" for papal definitions. And we know from other statements in Gasser's presentation, that Magisterial consent is a rule because Magisterial consent is a means by which the Holy Spirit speaks to the Church. Recall how he quoted Cajetan saying "'The Holy Spirit will teach you all truth,' is fulfilled through one person with no more difficulty than through a multitude..."

In my assessment of Gasser's argument, he does not wish to impose a formal consent from the Magisterium when the Pope is able to clearly deduce the will of the Church from pre-existing Church teaching. If the Pope ever exercised his office in this way, I would submit that consultation of Scripture and pre-existing Church teaching remains faithful to Metropolitan Ware's belief that the Pope must not make decisions by himself, in accord with Apostolic Canon 34. If a matter is "clear" in the teaching of "antiquity" or "Scripture," the Pope would remain faithful to his peers in consulting sources they also deem authoritative. And, in consulting Scripture and other Tradition, the Pope would indeed be consulting the word of God in writing and through the words of bishops preceding him. In neither case, be it acquiring formal consent or informal consent via antiquity, the Pope does not act alone.

Fr. James T. O'Connor, translator of the Relatio, summarizes this aspect of Gasser's presentation:
Although the Pope is morally bound to do everything prudently necessary to prepare for a definition of faith, there is no juridical necessity for him to prepare the definition in any specific way, nor is his definition once proclaimed subject to review or approval by the other bishops or the faithful.
If there is to be reunion with the Orthodox Church on the matter of the Papacy, could this "moral" obligation of the Pope to consult the other bishops on a definition be a means? In other words, when the Church voted on papal infallibility in the context of Gasser's presentation, those at Vatican I passed on including a "formal" or "juridical" imposition on the Pope to consult other bishops while at the same time understanding him to have a moral obligation and service to that which the Spirit has revealed through the corporate Church. Could a non-juridical obligation of some sort be that which satisfies the requirements in Apostolic Canon 34 as described by Metropolitan Ware?

Since the Pope has a moral obligation to consult the Church, even though not a "mandatory" one, could the comparison be made to God not being required to come incarnate, mandatorily, but we can be assured that He will because it is most fitting? Can we be assured that the Holy Spirit would likewise teach through the Church and papal office by ensuring due diligence?

Let's take one more look at some of the statements above that at least lean toward Apostolic Canon 34:

  • The Pope is "no more able to be separated from the universal Church than the foundation from the building it is destined to support" when exercising his "function as teacher."
  • The Pope "is held to use the means suitable for properly discerning and aptly enunciating the truth."
  • "[T]he consent of the present preaching of the whole Magisterium of the Church, united with its head, is a rule of faith even for pontifical definitions."
  • "[T]the Pope is morally bound to do everything prudently necessary to prepare for a definition of faith."

Could this obligation to which the Pope is "held," this responsibility to consult the Church to which the Pope is "morally bound," be the key to reconcilement with the Orthodox Church? If not the solution, I would submit that these seeds underlying the definitions of Vatican I and of Apostolic Constitution 34 may be those that germinate into united maturity.

In closing, it might be worth noting that the Pope has explicitly exercised this obligation in writing. In 1995, Pope John Paul II made a definitive statement about the grave immorality of abortion. In his statement, which cites the authority of the office from whence he spoke, he specifically cites having consulting the voice of his peers:
Therefore, by the authority which Christ conferred upon Peter and his Successors, in communion with the Bishops-who on various occasions have condemned abortion and who in the aforementioned consultation, albeit dispersed throughout the world, have shown unanimous agreement concerning this doctrine–I declare that direct abortion, that is, abortion willed as an end or as a means, always constitutes a grave moral disorder, since it is the deliberate killing of an innocent human being. (Pope John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae, 62, 1995)
You see the Pope articulating that what he is asserting is something already unanimously voiced by the Magisterium. His statement, according to his own declaration, is not made in isolation from the bishops. It is a statement communicating what those bishops had previously and then articulated.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Pope Francis and the Media, Jesuits, Eastern Orthodox, Eucharist, Mary, and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

After Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio (pictured) of Argentina was elected Pope Francis I, I found it difficult to locate much first-hand information on this first "American" Pope. Since his Wednesday election, here are some thoughts and references.

In the context of this papal election, the secular media, as is unfortunately often the case when reporting on the Church at all, demonstrated an inability or refusal to view the Church or office of the papacy as a theological rather than political. Even prior to Pope Francis' election, a variety of opiners expressed hope for a Pope whom would reverse Church teaching on contraception, abortion, the male priesthood, or marriage requiring a man and woman.

For example, an NBC staff writer expressed, "Pope Francis will likely keep to Catholic teachings that reject abortion and same-sex marriage, experts said Wednesday." CNN news anchor Suzanne Malveaux said, "Because we know that Benedict was very conservative when it comes to gay rights, when it comes to women being ordained in the church, when it comes to birth control. Many of those things that people are looking to and wondering if the church will, in fact, alter or adjust to the times." Similar statements are not hard to find. Any "expert" whom says the Church is not "likely" to change these teachings is, by the very assertion, not an expert on the Church.

In the minutes following Pope Francis' election, Wikipedia quickly updated the Pope Francis and Cardinal Bergoglio entries with the assertion: "Like most people, he supports the use of contraception to prevent the spread of disease." The footnote link for this claim was inaccessible. The claim itself has since been removed and remains unfounded. This misrepresentation itself was done to Pope Benedict XVI, as covered previously at The Catholic Voyager in What the Pope really said about condoms. On the Kresta in the Afternoon radio show Thursday (MP3), Dr. Janet Smith called such false rumors "wishful thinking."

To state the obvious, it is impossible for a dogmatic teaching on a matter of faith or morals to be "rejected." Sentiments such as these demonstrate a view of the papacy as a political office. Candidates go in and out, bringing to the table or legislatures whichever "laws" are determined. Such rules can be affected by a "vote." But the Church does not operate in this fashion, teaching that such truths are transcendent to manufacturing and are rather identified from reality. Such members of the media do not afford the Church the very views it professes to assert in expressing its teaching on such matters. In other words, in order to understand the Church's teachings, one at a minimum must confront the Church's own basis for those teachings.

Here is an analogy to understand the Catholic teachings on such moral dogmas as are above mentioned. To ask the Church to "reject" one of these views is tantamount to demanding that the Church "adjust to the times" and recognize that three-sided objects should be called "squares." It is, in reality, an impossibility for a square to have three sides. The Church is powerless to change that reality. If you can understand the ignorance required to demand a three-sided object be called a square, then you can understand the ignorance involved in those demanding the Church reject immutable dogma.

At a minimum, even if someone disagrees with the Church's teaching, it would be basic, prudential reporting to notify one's audience that the Church teaches that it is impossible for these teachings to be "rejected." As an apparent strategy, the media sometimes showcases a "Catholic," or perhaps even a priest or religious, whom rejects these teachings to give the impression that the issue remains unsettled in the Church. However, this belies the Church's teaching that dogma is formulated and recognized by the body of the Magisterium, that is, the Pope and bishops in union with him. Dissenters do not effect dogma. The sensibilities of unbelievers do not effect dogma.

Pope Francis brings at least couple "new" attributes to the papacy.
  • First Jesuit
  • First American
Some Catholics are concerned by Pope Francis' status as a Jesuit. This is apparently due to a Jesuit reputation to, perhaps similar to the media, challenge Church dogma. This is not a matter I have studied extensively, but if it is true that some Jesuits have a heterodox bent, this needn't be forced onto Pope Francis as his personal characteristic. After all, Father Mitch Pacwa from EWTN, for example, is a Jesuit and has been an excellent teacher of the faith.

Regarding Pope Francis' Jesuit background are a couple quotes I've come across from respectable Catholic commentators:
An incisive thinker and intensely holy man living a devout life, it is held against him that he is a Jesuit, although he has suffered the slings and arrows of Jesuits of a more "progressive" bent. (The late Fr. Richard John Neuhaus of First Things on Cardinal Bergoglio, 2007)
He was known in Argentina as the Jesuit who lived like a Franciscan. ... He's a very different kind of Jesuit. He's an old school Jesuit. Think of Father James Schall from Argentina and you begin to get the idea. Bergoglio was persecuted by his leftist Jesuit brethren in Argentina.  There were not champagne corks popping around the corner from where I'm sitting right now at the Jesuit Generalate last night, I'm quite sure. (George Weigel, on Kresta in the Afternoon radio show, March 14, 2013 (MP3))
First American and the Eastern connection
Sometimes you might hear that Pope Francis is the first non-European pope, however, there have been three popes from Africa. One of the things that strikes me most about then-Cardinal Bergoglio's position in Argentina is in the first sentence of his Vatican bio: "Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, S.J., Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Ordinary for Eastern-rite faithful in Argentina who lack an Ordinary of their own rite..."

For those of us hoping to reunite with the Eastern Orthodox Church, this attribute may help. It has apparently been some centuries, perhaps over 1000 years since there was an Eastern Rite pope. I have a particular affinity for a number of early saints mutually recognized by both the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches, especially St. John Chrysostom from the fourth and fifth centuries, whom I have cited a number of times on this blog and in forums. There remains a mutual foundation upon which reunion can transpire.

For those whom do not know, the Eastern Orthodox Church and Catholic Churches went into schism, commonly acknowledged to have taken place in the year 1054. Now, there is a difference between Eastern Rite Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Churches, one of which is that the former are in communion with the Bishop of Rome, i.e. the pope. Though Eastern Rite Catholics are in union with the Pope, they practice different forms of the Liturgy and have non-doctrinal differences in discipline or sometimes different spiritual emphases native to different cultures, many of which are viewed as similar to the Eastern Orthodox.

Although the Catholic and Orthodox Churches are in schism, there exists between them a certain familial kinship to the point that many in each Church recognize the validity of each other's priesthood and the ultimate sacrament in each other's churches––the Eucharist.
On each side it is recognized that what Christ has entrusted to his Church--profession of apostolic faith, participation in the same sacrament, above all the one priesthood celebrating the one sacrifice of Christ, the apostolic succession of bishops--cannot be considered the exclusive property of one of our Churches. (Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, 1993, #13)
To fortify optimism for the reunion of these two great Churches some day, the following news appeared in today's Catholic World Report:
In a historic development, it was announced today that Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, will attend Pope Francis’ installation Mass in Rome March 19, the first time such an event as taken place since the Great Schism in 1054. (Catherine Harmon, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople to attend Pope Francis’ installation Mass, Catholic World Report, March 15, 2013)
When something happens for the first time in almost 1000 years, something for which countless generations have prayed, there is cause for attention and hope.

One piece from Cardinal Bergoglio I have read over is a catechesis he preached on the Eucharist in 2008. In that catechesis, Bergoglio emphasized a critical attribute in understanding the Eucharist, and by comparison the Church, and really much of Catholic theology. That attribute is the nuptial nature of Christ's sacrifice. (See a little about this nuptial character in a prior post Christ, the bridegroom.)

The Cardinal states:
In receiving the Eucharist, we are the ones assimilated to Christ. In this manner, through giving Himself over to be eaten as Bread of life, the Lord starts making the Church. He begins transforming within His Body – in a process of mysterious and hidden assimilation as it is completely given over to the process of nourishment – at the same time, whenever this process can count with the free “yes” of the Church, that assents in faith to the Covenant offered by her Spouse, it transforms into His bride.
There is so much theology loaded into that paragraph. All members of the Church are, in a theological sense, the bride. Utilizing what Pope John Paul II called the Theology of the Body, we can recognize in the union of man and woman a figure of Christ and the Church. The Church "receives" life from Christ, so to speak. And the Eucharist is itself an image of assimilation, which we consume, which by the very form of eating communicates the merger of two entities into one. Yet, as Cardinal Bergoglio points out, unlike normal eating where food is broken down into us, with the Eucharist, we are broken down into Christ. In the sacrament, in the union with the divine Son, we, though fallen, are loved by God, and are raised up through His Son, whom condescended to us, and nuptially joined his Church by his ultimate "giving of himself" on the Cross.

The Cardinal continues, relating the matter to Mary, herself a figure of the Church:
Mary, therefore, is a model of the Covenant, between the Lord and His bride the Church, between God and each man. Model of a Covenant that is company of Love, confident and fruitful abandonment and fullness of hope that irradiates joy.
Here, the Cardinal eludes to Mary assenting to the angel Gabriel's prompt to bear the incarnate Christ, when she said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word." (Luke 1:38) One of the reasons Mary figures so importantly in Catholic theology is because of her role in divine revelation as figure of the Church. She sets a pattern by which the bride, the Church, is to follow. When she submits to the divine bridegroom, what is begotten? Life. We, as Church, are called to the same response, the same "yes," as Cardinal Bergoglio wrote above, and by that graced assent, life eternal is begotten.

The complementarity of bridegroom and bride itself relates to the dogmas discussed earlier. A marriage only exists if the "ingredients" of man and woman are joined. This is visible in the natural world, that only a male and female union "bears fruit" in the form of life. The Church has recognized also the spiritual reality of these complementary genders, which effect a true marriage. The matter of contraception is pertinent here as well. In the marriage, the marital act is seen as the giving of the self to the other. Jesus demonstrated the bridegroom's part when he extended his arms and literally gave all of himself to his bride. When a contraceptive is introduced, part of the self is withheld, especially one's fertility, and perhaps other factors such as a willingness to sacrifice with the other to raise a child, which itself fosters the objectification of the other (as predicted by Pope Paul VI in Humana Vitae in 1968). In a way, the denial of the necessary ingredients of man and woman in a marriage is an attack on the Eucharist.

In another letter from 2010, Cardinal Bergoglio wrote emphatically to protect the complementary genders necessary for the institution of marriage.

The future of the Church promises to be, at the very least, fascinating. It has literally been centuries since a retired Pope lived in concert with a current Pope. It must have been an intriguing experience for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI to experience the election of his own successor, especially in a world of technology where he could, if he did choose to, watch the dramatic events of the past week unfold. Pope Francis has already spoken on the phone with his great predecessor, and still plans to meet with him in the future. Pope Benedict himself welcomed a large community of Anglicans, themselves a "liturgical" Church, even if the Catholic Church does not recognize the validity of their priesthood or Eucharist. Such acts at that by Pope Benedict might that serve as the needed springboard for ecumenism and reunion with the Eastern Orthodox Church. If we do not see reunion in this generation, future generations may look back to Pope Benedict XVI as a catalyst.