Common Declaration by Pope Benedict XVI and Patriarch Bartholomew I

Pope Benedict and Patriarch Bartholomew

This fraternal encounter which brings us together, Pope Benedict XVI of Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, is God’s work, and in a certain sense his gift. We give thanks to the Author of all that is good, who allows us once again, in prayer and in dialogue, to express the joy we feel as brothers and to renew our commitment to move towards full communion. This commitment comes from the Lord’s will and from our responsibility as Pastors in the Church of Christ. May our meeting be a sign and an encouragement to us to share the same sentiments and the same attitudes of fraternity, cooperation and communion in charity and truth. The Holy Spirit will help us to prepare the great day of the re-establishment of full unity, whenever and however God wills it. Then we shall truly be able to rejoice and be glad.

1. We have recalled with thankfulness the meetings of our venerable predecessors, blessed by the Lord, who showed the world the urgent need for unity and traced sure paths for attaining it, through dialogue, prayer and the daily life of the Church. Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras I went as pilgrims to Jerusalem, to the very place where Jesus Christ died and rose again for the salvation of the world, and they also met again, here in the Phanar and in Rome. They left us a common declaration which retains all its value; it emphasizes that true dialogue in charity must sustain and inspire all relations between individuals and between Churches, that it “must be rooted in a total fidelity to the one Lord Jesus Christ and in mutual respect for their own traditionsâ€? (Tomos Agapis, 195). Nor have we forgotten the reciprocal visits of His Holiness Pope John Paul II and His Holiness Dimitrios I. It was during the visit of Pope John Paul II, his first ecumenical visit, that the creation of the Mixed Commission for theological dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church was announced. This has brought together our Churches in the declared aim of re-establishing full communion.

As far as relations between the Church of Rome and the Church of Constantinople are concerned, we cannot fail to recall the solemn ecclesial act effacing the memory of the ancient anathemas which for centuries had a negative effect on our Churches. We have not yet drawn from this act all the positive consequences which can flow from it in our progress towards full unity, to which the mixed Commission is called to make an important contribution. We exhort our faithful to take an active part in this process, through prayer and through significant gestures.

Common Declaration by Pope Benedict XVI & Patriarch Bartholomew I

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What these two Christians, Benedict and Bartholomew, are doing is what every Christian must do in order to receive Christ – go to the Christians you disagree with, make your differences clear to one another, confess and forgive what has to be confessed and forgiven, and together look forward to your reconciliation and unity. Let’s do it.

Bartholomew and Benedict

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI

Your Holiness, beloved Brother in the Lord,

It is with sentiments of sincere joy and satisfaction that we welcome you to the sacred and historical city of Istanbul.
This is a city that has known a treasured heritage for the growth of the Church through the ages. It is here that St. Andrew, the “first-called” of the Apostles founded the local Church of Byzantium and installed St. Stachys as its first bishop. It is here that the Emperor and “equal-to-the-Apostles,” St. Constantine the Great, established the New Rome. It is here that the Great Councils of the early Church convened to formulate the Symbol of Faith. It is here that martyrs and saints, bishops and monks, theologians and teachers, together with a “cloud of witnessesâ€? confessed what the prophets saw, what the apostles taught, what the church received, what the teachers formulated in doctrine, what the world understood, what grace has shone, namely…the truth that was received, the faith of the fathers. This is the faith of the Orthodox. This faith has established the universe.

So it is with open embrace that we welcome you on the blessed occasion of your first visit to the City, just as our predecessors, Ecumenical Patriarchs Athenagoras and Demetrios, had welcomed your predecessors, Popes Paul VI and John Paul II. These venerable men of the Church sensed the inestimable value and urgent need alike of such encounters in the process of reconciliation through a dialogue of love and truth.

Therefore, we are, both of us, as their successors and as successors to the Thrones of Rome and New Rome equally accountable for the steps – just, of course, as we are for any missteps – along the journey and in our struggle to obey the command of our Lord, that His disciples “may be one.” ….

Beloved Brother, welcome. “Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord.”

“Blessed is the Name of the Lord now and forevermore.”

Pope Benedict XVI to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew

“Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unityâ€? (Ps 133:1)

Your Holiness,

I am deeply grateful for the fraternal welcome extended to me by you personally, and by the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. I will treasure its memory forever. I thank the Lord for the grace of this encounter, so filled with authentic goodwill and ecclesial significance.

It gives me great joy to be among you, my brothers in Christ, in this Cathedral Church, as we pray together to the Lord and call to mind the momentous events that have sustained our commitment to work for the full unity of Catholics and Orthodox. …

Signs of this love have been evident in numerous declarations of shared commitment and many meaningful gestures. Both Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II were warmly received as visitors in this Church of Saint George, and joined respectively with Patriarchs Athenagoras I and Dimitrios I in strengthening the impetus towards mutual understanding and the quest of full unity. May their names be honoured and blessed!

I also rejoice to be in this land so closely connected to the Christian faith, where many Churches flourished inancient times. I think of Saint Peter’s exhortations to the early Christian communities “in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithyniaâ€? (1 Pet 1:1), and the rich harvest of martyrs, theologians, pastors, monastics, and holy men and women which those Churches brought forth over the centuries.

I likewise recall the outstanding saints and pastors who have watched over the See of Constantinople, among them Saint Gregory of Nazianzus and Saint John Chrysostom, whom the West also honours as Doctors of the Church. Their relics rest in the Basilica of Saint Peter in the Vatican, and a part of them were given to Your Holiness as a sign of communion by the late Pope John Paul II for veneration in this very Cathedral. Truly, they are worthy intercessors for us before the Lord.

In this part of the Eastern world were also held the seven Ecumenical Councils which Orthodox and Catholics alike acknowledge as authoritative for the faith and discipline of the Church. They are enduring milestones and guides along our path towards full unity.

I conclude by expressing once more my joy to be with you. May this meeting strengthen our mutual affection and renew our common commitment to persevere on the journey leading to reconciliation and the peace of the Churches.

I greet you in the love of Christ. May the Lord be always with you.

www.patriarchate.org

Pope Benedict and Metropolitan John Zizioulas

The other point in the Church’s being received is that of a reception of one Church by another Church – and most important aspect of reception, stems from the basic ecclesiological fact that the Church, although one, exists as Churches (in the plural), and these Churches exist as One Church in and through constantly receiving one another as sister Churches. We shall see later how important this aspect is for us today.

Metropolitan John Zizioulas The Theological Problem of ‘Reception’ (One in Christ: A Catholic Ecumenical Review 21, 1985)

Embodiedness and mutuality – John Paul II’s theology of the body

John Paul II’s “theology of the body,” which he laid out in 130 general audience addresses between 1979 and 1984, is arguably the most creative Christian response to the sexual revolution and its “pulverization” of the human person to be articulated in the twentieth century. Its philosophical core is Wojtyla’s claim that what we might call a “Law of the Gift” is built into the very structure of human being-in-the-world. Because of that, self–giving, not self–assertion, is the royal road to human flourishing.

This deep truth of the human condition, which John Paul believed could be demonstrated by a careful analysis of human moral agency, had enormous implications for meeting the challenge of the sexual revolution. Sex, as often experienced in today’s sexual free-fire zone, is instinctive and impersonal. But that kind of sex does not rise above the level of animal sexuality, which is also instinctive and impersonal. Sex that is an expression of self–giving love, not a use of the other for temporary gratification, is the only sex worthy of human beings. Chastity, on this analysis, is what John Paul called the “integrity of love,” the virtue that makes it possible for one to love another as a person. We are made free, Wojtyla argues, so that we can make a free gift of ourselves to others; we are free so that we can love freely, and thus love truly. Genuine freedom—the freedom that disposes of itself in self–giving—is the context of a genuinely humanistic sexual ethic.

The theological core of John Paul’s “theology of the body” is his profoundly sacramental apprehension of reality. Our embodiedness as male and female is not an accident of evolutionary biology, he insists. Rather, that embodiedness and the mutuality built into it express some of the deepest truths of the world, and teach us something about the world’s Creator. John Paul even goes so far as to propose that sexual love within the bond of marital fidelity is an icon of the interior life of God the Holy Trinity, a community of mutual self–donation and mutual receptivity. Thus sexual love, within the bond of Christian marriage, is an act of worship.

George Weigel John Paul II and the Crisis of Humanism

Pope John Paul’s lectures on the theology of the Body have been re-published as Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology Of The Body

If JP II’s Theology of the Body is completely new to you, you could try Christopher West or even Peter Kreeft

Theology of the Body in London

I am always ready to talk up any theological discussion going on in the UK, so I’m keeping an eye on Statford Caldecott’s Second Spring which is offering

Theology of the Body – London day conference

Give Me Sensible Reasons To Believe:
the true teaching of the Catholic Church about
SEX SEX and the reasons WHY

A one-day conference for young adults
Saturday 24th February 2007
at Westminster Cathedral Hall
Ambrosden Avenue
London SW1P 1QH

‘The speakers are all young committed Catholics who are living in the real world.
These issues are a part of their lives as they are of yours.’ – Just right for the youth group, then.

Plus –

Theology of the Body Explored – lecture course 2006-7
continues into the spring at St. Patrick’s, Soho Square, London

SSCE conference

Society for the Study of Christian Ethics conference 2007

The Ideology of Managerialism in Church, Politics and Society

7th-9th September, Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, UK

Presenters include
Professor Michael L. Budde,
Chair of the Department of Political Science,
DePaul University

Professor John Milbank,
Professor in Religion, Politics & Ethics,
Nottingham University

Professor Allen Verhey,
Professor of Christian Ethics, Duke Divinity School

Dr. Bernd Wannenwetsch,
Lecturer in Ethics, Oxford University

Call for papers – The conference committee invite short papers related to the theme of the event and more general outlines of work in progress

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Day Conference on Hans G. Ulrich

The day before the SSCE conference the Society will be holding a Symposium on Hans G. Ulrich‘s (Erlangen) major work on theological ethics, Wie Geschöpfe leben:Konturen evangelischer Ethik (LIT Verlag, 2005) at Harris Manchester College (6th-7th September 2007).

Those responding to Prof Ulrich’s work include: Dr. Markus Bockmuehl (St Andrews); Professor Oliver O’Donovan (New College, Edinburgh); Professor Wolfgang Palaver (Innsbrück); Dr Susan Parsons (Nottingham); Revd Dr Bernd Wannenwetsch (Harris Manchester, Oxford); and Professor John Webster (Aberdeen).

This is an open symposium to which all are invited to attend.

Hans Ulrich, one of Germany’s very finest, is scarcely known outside Germany, so this day conference will be quite an opportunity. Ulrich was Docktorvater to Reinhard Hütter whose Suffering Divine Things and (the rather more accessible) Bound to be Free: Evangelical Catholic Engagements in Ecclesiology, Ethics, and Ecumenism have impressed me almost more than any other books in the last three years, and of Oxford’s Bernd Wannenwetsch whose Political Worship: Ethics for Christian Citizens is the chunkiest and most exciting piece of theology I have seen recently.

Secularism, Faith and Freedom

The Christian Church began as a reconstructed version of the notion of God’s people – a community called by God to make God known to the world in and through the forms of law-governed common life – the ‘law’ being, in the Christian case, the model of action and suffering revealed in Jesus Christ. It claimed to make real a pattern of common life lived in the fullest possible accord with the nature and will of God – a life in which each member’s flourishing depended closely and strictly on the flourishing of every other and in which every specific gift or advantage had to be understood as a gift offered to the common life. This is how the imagery of the Body of Christ works in St Paul’s letters. There is no Christian identity in the New Testament that is not grounded in this pattern; this is what the believer is initiated into by baptism. And this is a common life which exists quite independently of any conventional political security. Because it depends on the call and empowering of Christ’s Spirit, it cannot be destroyed by change in external circumstances, by the political arrangements prevailing in this or that particular society. So Christian identity is irreducibly political in the sense that it defines a politeia, a kind of citizenship (Philippians 3.20); yet its existence and integrity are not bound to a successful realisation of this citizenship within history. There does not have to be a final and sacred political order created in order for the integrity of the Church to survive.

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The salient point is that a supposedly liberal society which assumes absolutely that it has (as I put it earlier) the resources for producing and sustaining moral motivation independently of the actual moral or spiritual commitments of its citizens, is in danger behaving and speaking as if the only kind of human solidarity that really matters is that of the state. Programmatic secularism, as a shorthand for the denial of the public legitimacy of religious commitment as a partner in political conversation, will always carry the seeds, not of totalitarianism in the obvious sense, but of that ‘totalising’ spirit which stifles critique by silencing the other.

Archbishop Rowan Williams Secularism, Faith and Freedom Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, Rome 23rd November 2006

The hunt for a real theology department – Duke

I am wondering about theological education in London, and in particular wondering about this term ‘Christian university’. So I am off around the internet to find examples of thriving theological faculties in the hope that they will provide some inspiration. First stop:

Duke Divinity School

The Doctor of Theology program provides students with academically rigorous training, comparable to the demands of the Ph.D., focused on the ministries and practices of Christian communities. The program centers upon areas of study such as worship, preaching, evangelism, and the arts. At the same time, as an integral component of its mission, the Th.D. program seeks to reconfigure the way in which such practices are brought into creative interdisciplinary conversation with the established academic discourses of biblical studies, historical studies, and theology and ethics. Moreover, the interdisciplinary scope of the program extends to other areas of the university and addresses fresh areas of research such as the intersection of Divinity and Health Care, or Peacemaking and Reconciliation.

How about Duke’s

Center for Theological Writing ?

Writing forms a constituent practice of the ministry, as integral as prayer and preaching, rather than a tool employed toward other ends. And like prayer and preaching, writing requires a lifetime’s commitment to growth and refinement. For the ministry, even more than other professions, words constitute the very terms of our existence; they are the medium in which we exercise both our beliefs and our fears, our power and our contrition. We sustain and transmit our Christian identity through the written word. The use of language in the Church itself can be rather uninspiring, whether because we appeal to the tired jargon of popular culture or artlessly repeat our own cliches. The danger is not only that the Church’s voice be drowned out by others less profound; it is that our understanding of and relationship to God are cheapened. Bad theological writing is an act of bad faith.

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Duke has Stanley Hauerwas, Amy Laura Hall, Reinhard Hütter, Geoffrey Wainnwright, Ellen Davis, Richard Hays, Douglas Campbell and David Steinmetz. If I was able to kidnap and bring to London just one of these it would be Reinhard Hütter. Click on his ‘links’. Of course Geoffrey Wainwright is ours anyway, as are Sam Wells and Jo Bailey Wells.

Benedict in Constantinople

Pope Benedict and Metropolitan John Zizioulas

Amy Welborn has started covering Pope Benedict” visit to the Ecumenical Patriarch.

The Vatican has posted details of the services to be celebrated:

The Divine Liturgy begins with an invocation of the Holy Trinity: “Blessed be the kingdom of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit…â€?. Three litanies follow, a longer one and two shorter ones, which invoke the Lord’s mercy upon the whole world and the entire Church. Mention is made of the Church, her members and all those in need. These litanies always include an invocation to the Mother of God, who intercedes for everyone and for the Holy Church. After the second litany the christological hymn, “Only-Begottenâ€? is sung; this is an ancient liturgical hymn that summarizes the principal dogmas of the Christian faith: the Trinity, the Incarnation of the Word of God, the divine maternity of Mary, the salvation that is bestowed on us by Christ’s passion, death and resurrection. There follows the “Small Entranceâ€?. In a solemn procession, the priest and the deacon take the Gospel from the altar, show it to the faithful and set it again on the altar, in order to indicate the beginning of the proclamation of the word of God: originally this was the entrance procession. Before the readings the Trisagion is chanted: “Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal…â€?.

The third part of the Divine Liturgy is the liturgy of the faithful, in which those who are baptized participate fully. It begins with the “Great Entranceâ€?, the procession with the bread and wine towards the altar. The choir sings the hymn: “We who mystically represent the Cherubim…â€?, another ancient liturgical text in which the Church of heaven and earth is united in praise and thanksgiving to God for his gifts. The priest incenses the altar, the church, the gifts and the faithful, all of which are icons of Christ. He then solemnly takes the paten and the chalice, and after asking the Lord to remember all those who have been commemorated and the whole Church, he sets them on the altar and covers them with the veil. The priest then recites for himself and the whole Church the words of the Good Thief from his cross: “Remember me, Lord, in your Kingdom…â€?. The gifts, a symbol of Christ, the Lamb who was slain, are then placed on the altar, as if in the tomb from which, after the consecration or sanctification, the life-giving Body of Christ will be given to each of the faithful. After the entrance, litanies are sung, the sign of peace is exchanged, and the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed is recited. There follows the anaphora of Saint John Chrysostom, which has a structure similar to that of the other anaphoras of the Eastern and Western liturgies: an initial trinitarian dialogue, Preface, Sanctus, anamnesis, institution narrative, epiclesis, intercessions and conclusion.

This is followed by the Our Father, the breaking of the bread and communion. Before communion the priest pours some boiling water (called the zéon) into the chalice as a symbol of the outpouring and presence of the Holy Spirit, as well as a sign of the life which comes from communion in the living and life-giving Body and Blood of Christ himself.

The Ecumenical Partriachate has set up a website to cover the Pope’s Apostolic journey. There will be no visit to the Theological School of Halki that the Turkish government has kept closed in defiance of the Turkish constitution’s defence of minorities and of religious freedom.

Christ the King

What a relief to get out of ordinary time.

As I watched,
thrones were set in place,
and an Ancient One took his throne;
his clothing was white as snow,
and the hair of his head like pure wool;
his throne was fiery flames,
and its wheels were burning fire.
A stream of fire issued
and flowed out from his presence.
A thousand thousand served him,
and ten thousand times ten thousand stood attending him.
The court sat in judgment,
and the books were opened.

Daniel 7.9-10, 13-14.

The Lord is king, he is robed in majesty;
the Lord is robed, he is girded with strength.
He has established the world; it shall never be moved;
your throne is established from of old;
you are from everlasting.

Psalm 93

To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood, and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
Look! He is coming with the clouds;
every eye will see him,
even those who pierced him;
and on his account all the tribes of the earth will wail.
So it is to be. Amen.

Revelation 1

Pilate asked him, ‘So you are a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.’

John 18

And from the hymns, this – the single most difficult thing for us at St Mary’s Stoke Newington to grasp –

Christ through all ages is the same
Place the same great hope in his name
With the same faith his word proclaim
Alleluya

From George Bell’s ‘Christ is the King, O friend rejoice!’
Bell, bishop of Chichester, was Bonhoeffer’s chief supporter in England