The Special Relationship with Our Sister Churches of the Orthodox Tradition


The work of bringing the message of Jesus Christ to every person, which, in the words of Pope Paul VI, is the “essential function of the Church” (EN:14), is closely linked to that other great commitment of the Church which is the promotion of reconciliation and unity among Christians. We recall here the prayer of our Lord at the Last Supper, “May they all be one. Father may they be one in Us, as You are in Me and I am in You, so that the world may believe it was You who sent Me.” (Jn. 17:21).


In the wake of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) Christian Unity is one of the great priorities of the Catho]ic Church in these times, for as the same Council points out “the division among Christians openly contradicts the will of Christ, scandalizes the world, and damages that most holy cause, the preaching of the gospel to every creature”. (UR:l).


In the context of the above the following quotation from Pope John Paul II Apostolic Letter “Orientale Lumen” written as an aid to restoring unity with all Christians of the EasL is of the greatest importance:


“Since in fact, we believe that the venerable and

ancient tradition of the Eastern Churches is an

integral part of the heritage of Christ’s Church,

the first need for Catholics is to be familiar with

that tradition, so as to be nourished by it and to

encourage the process of unity in the best way

possible for each.

Our Eastern Catholic brothers and sisters are very conscious of being the living bearers of this tradition, together with our Orthodox brothers and sisters. The members of the Catholic Church of the Latin tradition must also be fully acquainted with this treasure and thus feel, with the Pope, a passionate longing that the full manifestation of the Church’s catholicity be restored to the Church and to the world, expressed not by a single tradition, and still less by one community in opposition to the other; and that we too may all be granted a full taste of the divinely revealed and undivided heritage of the universal Church which is preserved and grows in the life of the Churches of the East as in those of the West. (No I).”

Further on the Holy Father speaking of the Orthodox Churches, says:


“A particularly close link already binds us to them. We have almost everything in common; and above all, we have in common the true longing for unity. (No.3).’

These Orthodox Churches are truly our Sister Churches, we must promote in every way possible reconciliation and unity between us according to the mind of Christ and in keeping with the guidelines of the document “Unitatis Redintegratio” of the Second Vatican Council.

In the succeeding sections of this chp, what is said in reference to the conversion of those who are not Catholics does not apply to our brothers and sisters of the Orthodox Churches,