Rev. Ronald G. Roberson

Roberson Declares Commonalities as Focus for Ecumenical Dialogue

Rev. Ronald G. Roberson, Associate Director of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, US Conference of Catholic Bishops and this year’s SS. Cyril and Methodius Lecturer, tackled the topic of ecumenism and specifically, the often difficult nature of Catholic-Orthodox dialogue.  

In many ways, said Fr. Roberson, we have cause to be hopeful about the future of Catholic-Orthodox relations.  Past disagreements over verbal formulas can be overcome although, he noted, full communion is not something that can or should be anticipated anytime soon. The basis of Catholic-Orthodox dialogue at this moment depends less upon any particular outcome and more upon nurturing the relationship between the two groups.  “Trust and charity,” said Fr. Roberson, “are far more important than filioque and papal supremacy in the context of ecumenical discussions between Catholics and Orthodoxy.”  
Fr. Roberson addresses audience
Fr. Roberson addresses audience.

Speaking to the specifics of ecumenical discussions, Fr. Roberson noted that Catholic-Orthodox dialogue is most successful at moving towards reconciliation when able to focus on commonalities.  That is, when ecumenical dialogue enables groups to find agreement on what they have in common—Trinitarian focus, strong sacramental and liturgical practices and a historical understanding of the faith—they move with greater success towards the more difficult issues.

Clergy spend a few moments with Fr. Roberson
A few clergy chat with Fr. Roberson.

The Second Vatican Council marks the beginnings of this kind of rapprochement between Catholics and the Orthodox.

For example, Fr. Roberson declared that the Great Schism of 1054 (with the excommunication of Patriarch Michael Cerularius of Constantinople and mutual excommunications of the papal legates) has been “erased from memory” by Vatican II.Ultimately, the task before the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs is to keep talking even in the face of misunderstandings.  Said Fr. Roberson, “the ‘holy grail’ of Catholic-Orthodox dialogue remains full communion between the two and it’s to that end that discussions continue.”


This lecture and all past lectures are available on CD for $11.00 each (includes mailing).
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