In a comment on her blog, Dixie has included the following quotation from Fr Stephen Freeman:
The Orthodox Church has perhaps the weakest ecclesiology of all, because it depends, moment by moment, on the love and forgiveness of each by all and of all by each. Either the Bishops of the Church love and forgive each other or the whole thing falls apart. “Brethren, let us love one another, that with one mind we may confess: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” These are the words that introduce the Creed each Sunday, and they are the words that are the bedrock of our ecclesiology…
That puts Orthodox ecclesiology quite nicely I think. And of course is not always a bad thing to be “weak”, as St Paul said that “God’s power is made perfect in weakness.”
Nevertheless this sort of ecclesiology sounds fine in theory, but does it actually work in practice? A footnote in a “The Primacy Of The Bishop Of Rome And The Ecumenical Dialogue” by Father Andriano Guruti (I don’t have the actual reference in front of me here and now) calls into question this “sweetness and light” version of Orthodox ecclesiology.
So does the following story from Catholic World News:
Split deepens among Orthodox in Ukraine
Kiev, Feb. 12, 2007 (CWNews.com) – An Orthodox group in Ukraine loyal to the Moscow patriarchate has asked the country’s government to make Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople a persona non grata in their country, and extend the same designation to Orthodox prelates affiliated with the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
The request made by the Union of Orthodox Citizens of Ukraine (UCCA) is the latest move in a fierce contest for leadership of the Orthodox believers in the country. The group accused the Ecumenical Patriarchate of “stirring up interdenominational hostility” in their country by recognizing the growing Kiev Patriarchate– an Orthodox group that split from Moscow after Ukraine achieved independence.
The UCCA request came at a time when Petro Yushchenko, brother of Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, is visiting Constantinople to meet with Patriarch Bartholomew. The Yushchenko government has sought to ease tensions among Orthodox leaders, without accepting the claim of the Moscow patriarchate to exercise sole jurisdiction over the Orthodox churches of Ukraine.
Perhaps one of our orthodox readers would be kind enough to explain how a communion “of love and forgiveness of each by all and of all by each” is demonstrated in such a situation?