Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev–yes, our own friend from just a fortnight ago–has withdrawn his Russian delegation from the resumed Catholic-Orthodox dialogue because (get this) the Estonian Orthodox were invited to the party too.
There wasn’t much the Vatican delegation could do. The Catholic News Service says a Catholic participant told them that “the Catholic position was that it was an internal Orthodox matter”.
Pope Benedict has made it clear what outcome he desires any way:
I ask you to join me in praying that this important meeting will help the journey toward full communion between Catholics and Orthodox and that we could soon share the same chalice of the Lord.
Perhaps we ought to extend our prayers for full communion between the Orthodox and the Orthodox. [Yes, I just know that some of you are going to jump up and say that all the Orthodox ARE in full communion with all the other Orthodox, but, really, are these the sort of shinanigans you would expect from those who are in full communion with each other? It is more what one would expect at a Lambeth Conference…]
I am reminded of a comment Bishop Hilarion (pictured with a nice hat) made while he was here in Australia. He was asked why there has not been a Pan-Orthodox meeting/synod/council. His answer was that there were two reasons: first, the lack of anyone in a position of authority to call such a council, and secondly, the debate that would ensue about the ordering of seating for the various patriarchs according to hierarchy of honour.
Didn’t Jesus have some advice on that?