“What the Person in the Pew Should Know About
the Catholic-Orthodox Dialogue”
An Orientale Lumen Foundation Educational Program
The detailed questions we plan to ask and record as interviews with Metropolitan Kallistos, Archimandrite Robert Taft, and Msgr. Paul McPartlan include the following:
1. How We Got Here
a. Apostolic Times — How unified was the Early Church of the first centuries after Christ’s Resurrection?
b. Seven Ecumenical Councils — What were the major issues settled by the seven recognized ecumenical councils?
c. Estrangement Between East and West — How and why did East and West drift apart in the last centuries of the first millennium?
d. Schism of 1054 — Was there an actual schism in 1054, or were the mutual excommunications symptomatic of a widening gulf between the Byzantine East and Roman West?
e. Partial Unions — What were the Councils of Lyons and Florence? Why was union not achieved at these Councils?
f. Papal Authority of the Late Centuries — How did the authority of the Bishop of Rome develop in the last two centuries of the second millennium? What effect has the development of Papal authority in the West had on the Orthodox East and her relations with the West?
g. Current Dialogue — How did the current dialogue of the Orthodox and Catholic Church get started, what has it achieved, and why is important?
2. Misunderstandings and Misconceptions
a. Dogma vs Doctrine — Please explain your view of “dogma” as compared with “doctrine”.
b. Dogma vs Discipline — How would you characterize the “dogma” of the Church as compared with the “discipline” of the Church?
c. Church vs Politics — Please give us your view of how the Church should function and act compared with what you have experienced as “church politics.”
d. Spirituality vs Action — What are your views about “spirituality” as opposed to “action”?
e. Mystical vs Rational — Please describe the “mystical” emphasis of Christianity that seems prevalent in the East as compared with the more “rational” emphasis of the West.
f. Legal vs Pastoral — How do you view “legal” approaches to Church life compared to “pastoral” approaches?
g. Primate vs Members — Please comment on the authority and responsibilities of a “primate” (priest, bishop, patriarch) compared with the authority and responsibilities of the “members” of a parish, diocese, region or patriarchal Church.
3. What We Agree On
a. Trinity — What are the most significant aspects of the Trinity on which Catholics and Orthodox agree? Are there any areas of disagreement regarding the Trinity?
b. Christ — What do Catholics and Orthodox believe about Jesus Christ? Do they disagree on any aspects of Him?
c. Mother of God — How do Catholics and Orthodox view Mary, the Mother of God? Are there any areas of disagreement regarding her?
d. Sacraments — What do Catholics and Orthodox believe about the sacraments? Are they the same or different?
e. Eucharist — What are the characteristics of the Holy Eucharist on which Catholics and Orthodox agree? Are there any areas of disagreement?
f. Ministry — Who are the principal ministers in the Catholic and Orthodox Church? Do they function the same or not?
g. Scripture — Do Catholics and Orthodox use the same Sacred Scripture? How is Scripture considered in the Catholic Church versus the Orthodox Church?
4. What We Don’t Agree On
a. Primacy — What is the principal disagreement between Catholics and Orthodox concerning primacy?
b. Infallibility — What is “infallibility” and how do the Catholic and Orthodox Churches view it?
c. Jurisdiction — How do the Catholic and Orthodox Churches view jurisdiction at various levels of the church hierarchy?
d. Authority — What are the various views of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches about the authority of church hierarchs?
e. Councils of the Church — What councils do the Catholic and Orthodox Churches recognize and why?
f. Original Sin — What do the Catholic and Orthodox Churches believe and teach about “original sin”?
g. Married Clergy — What principles do the Catholic and Orthodox Churches follow concerning married versus celibate clergy?
5. Where do we go from here?
a. What is the future of official Orthodox/Catholic dialogue?
b. What are some practical applications for parish life and local dialogue between communities?
c. How can we educate the faithful, including adult enrichment and parish schools of religion?
d. How can we get to know each other through social gatherings?
e. How can we participate in common prayer (non-eucharistic services such as akathists, moleben, vespers, etc.)?