A Note from the Vatican on the Expression ‘Sister Churches’

This is the official, Vatican perspective on not only ecumenical efforts in general, but also the relationship between the Vatican See and the Orthodox Church. Written under the oversight of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope emeritus Benedict XVI), Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, this document was approved by Pope John Paul II (June 9, 2000). Highlighted below is an ecclesiological perspective often absent in careless, ecumenical discussions (both East and West), and is…

Reveal Your Saints and You Reveal Your Church

Understandably, there have been several articles, podcasts, press releases, videos, and other media in recent weeks for the meeting between the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and Pope Francis, the present archbishop of the city of Old Rome. The Patriarchate of Constantinople has spared no expense in promoting this event, which commemorates the fiftieth anniversary of a similar meeting in Jerusalem between the Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras and Pope Paul VI (January 1964). For many, this event is little more…

The Road to Rome? Why Orthodoxy Deserves a Look

A few years ago, I came across a series of posts by Jason Liske, a convert to Roman catholicism. In one such post, he laid out a few reasons why he had chosen Rome over the Orthodox Church. (For those interested, the full post can be found here.) Before I respond to some of Jason’s thoughts, I will provide a few disclaimers: There are likely millions of Roman catholics who are far more loving, charitable, and honorable people than…

The Filioque and Arianism: Was It Really Necessary?

Was the addition of Filioque to the Nicene Creed necessary to combat Arianism in the West? This is an assertion often made in its defense, but is this really true? Filioque—”and the Son” in Latin—is a phrase later added to the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed in Western churches. This Creed or Symbol of Faith has been recited by Christian faithful as part of their liturgical and private devotional life since at least the fourth…

The Western Critiques of Christian Iconoclasm

Introduction As most historians recognize, the central events related to Byzantine iconoclasm in both the eighth and ninth centuries unfolded in and around the imperial city of Constantinople. Nevertheless, the churches of the West—and especially in the city of old Rome—were intimately involved in combatting this new, imperially-sanctioned heresy. In a piece last May on the Patristic evidence in favor of iconodulism (in response to The Calvinist International), I only briefly touched…

The Encyclical Letter of Mark of Ephesus

July 1440 To All Orthodox Christians on the Mainland and in the Islands. From Mark, Bishop of the Metropolis of Ephesus—Rejoice in Christ! To those who have ensnared us in an evil captivity—desiring to lead us away into the Babylon of Latin rites and dogmas—could not, of course, completely accomplish this, seeing immediately that there was little chance of it. In fact, that it was simply impossible. But having stopped somewhere in…

Transubstantiation in the Orthodox Church

Does the Orthodox Church believe in “transubstantiation” (μετουσίωσις in Greek) with regards to the Eucharist? Or is that only used in the Latin (Roman Catholic) church? There’s certainly a lot of confusion and conflicting information out there, so let’s take a closer look. As a blogger, I can vouch for the necessity of extending grace towards a writer when they are attempting to both honestly and carefully represent their beliefs. I intentionally…