Father Ivan Karageorgiev recently interviewed Bishop Kallistos (Ware) on his speritual journey.
The interview was published in French in the periodical Unité des chrétiens (n°190, avril 2018).
Please find here an English translation of that interview.
My ecumenical commitment has mainly its roots in my teaching ministry. The latter allowed me to understand that the Church is fundamentally a Eucharistic society. What can the Church do that no one and nothing else in the world can do? The shortest answer is “to celebrate the Holy Eucharist”. Thus the true vocation of man is to become a Eucharistic being. We are created in the image of the Trinity for mutual love. More specifically, we are created in the image of Christ, the Logos. Therefore, we are logiki, beings endowed with reason, autonomous understanding, conscience, freedom, but also with gratitude and thanksgiving.
From this comes my definition of the human person as a Eucharistic being, in the literal sense of the Eucharist: Thanksgiving. We have been empowered to offer creation to God, in return for His blessings. That is why it is not enough to self-define us as reasonable animals, but rather as offerers. During the divine liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom we say during the anaphora: “Thine Own of Thine Own, offering unto Thee, in behalf of all and for all”. We have here a key to understand the human person, created in the divine image. Consciously and by deliberate choice, we can offer the world back to God in gratitude, and we do this all together during the Divine Liturgy, when we offer the holy gifts to God. We do not offer just wheat, but bread, we do not present grapes, but wine. Thus, we do not offer the elements back to God in their original state, but transformed by the hands of man, in an act of gratitude and as we return them to the Creator, we receive Him through His body and blood.
The goal of ecumenical dialogue is the restoration of Eucharistic communion. But to be able to commune together at the Lord’s table, we must share the same faith. The Eucharist cannot be separated from our faith. Thus to restore Eucharistic communion, we must seek and deepen our common paths in the common faith. However, we must add that there is a distinction between dogma and theologoumena or between faith and theological opinions. One of the most important tasks of theological dialogues is to balance things out. We have to identify what is essential and irreducible in our faith, the points on which our agreement is indispensable. Then we establish theological opinions where differences can be tolerated, as long as they do not jeopardize the common repository of faith. This is how I understand the terms “unity in diversity” or “reconciled diversity”. The bilateral committees of the theological dialogue are particularly suitable structures for this exercise. Their final goal is the restoration of Eucharistic communion. I had the opportunity to participate in the dialogue with the Anglican Church, first as a member from 1973 to 1984 and then as the co-president from 2007 to 2016. From 2006 to 2016, I was also a member of the International Joint Commission for the theological dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church. I had to withdraw from both in 2016 for health reasons.
The Anglican-Orthodox international dialogue was devoted to the doctrine of the Church from 1984 to 2006. In 2006, a very important document was published under the title The Church of the Tri-Un God. Since then, the dialogue shifted from ecclesiology to anthropology. Instead of asking what the Church is, we asked ourselves, “What is a human person?” A powerful document, In the image and likeness of God, came out of it. In my view, this is a decisive step, because currently in the Christian world as a whole, the fundamental question is, “who am I, what am I, what does it mean to be in the image and in likeness of God? Is. The understanding of the human person must be much more explored, because sometimes we do not realize the importance and the abyssal depth of the subject. At present, the Anglican-Orthodox dialogue is studying the practical implication of this text.
First of all, there is the question of human birth and of the beginning of human life from the moment of conception, and all the questions arising from it, especially in terms of contraception, abortion and fetal testing, as well as the series of burning issues related to them. Of course, it is not enough for us to exchange information or issue prohibitions, but to study the problems in depth and to find reasons to act in this or that direction.
As far as the end of life is concerned, I have to tell clearly that we cannot approve euthanasia, while accepting the cessation of medical care in specific situations. Another question that we discussed at length is that of the ordination of women to the priesthood ministry. From my point of view, it must be considered with the requisite seriousness. It must be treated as an open question, so that theological arguments on both sides can be expressed and analyzed. All these questions are related to our doctrine of the human person. They are not only related to inter-ecclesial relations, but also to the position or the voice of the Church as a whole with regard to contemporary society. In my view, it is the program of the Anglican-Orthodox dialogue and it will keep the mandated members busy for several years.
As for the Roman Catholic-Orthodox dialogue, in previous years, it addressed the crucial question between our two Churches: the position of the Bishop of Rome in the world communion, or in other words, the relationship between primacy and synodality. In 2016, the dialogue produced an excellent agreement in Chieti. This document considers the Church as the image of the Holy Trinity. It highlights the connection between Church and Eucharist without mentioning any “jurisdictional power”, by adopting a much more pastoral language, characteristic of the ancient Church. The Chieti document emphasizes that in the first millennium, the pope did not exercise canonical authority over the Christian East. It recognizes, to say it in our modern language, his universal jurisdiction of appeal. In other words, other patriarchs could turn to Rome in case of disputes they could not resolve by themselves. Surprisingly, this document was not only adopted by the Orthodox, but also by the Roman Catholic delegation, right away and unanimously. So how can we reconcile this with, for example, the decisions of Vatican Council I which established, among other things, a universal and ordinary jurisdiction of the Pope? For the time being, the Roman Catholic-Orthodox dialogue has not worked on the second millennium. In my opinion, the work of the group must continue in this direction. The Council of Vatican II must also be studied closely. It is close to the Chieti document when it says that the pope does not intervene directly in the relations between the Churches of the Christian East.
The question of ministers remains both difficult and important on the road to unity. Both Orthodox and Western Christians need a much more powerful theology and better connected with the ministry of the laity. Therefore, we must deepen the understanding of our baptismal theology. The important thing is not what lay people cannot do, but what is offered to them. All baptized Christians are ordained to be missionaries, witnesses of the faith. We do not make any distinction between the church that is teaching and the church that is taught. Each member of the Church is simultaneously taught and witnessing. In Orthodoxy, lay people are the guardians of the holy tradition or the ecclesial conscience.
Source de la photographie : Wikipedia