One of my enthusiasms as a Christian is for church unity. ADU has banged the ecumenical drum these years of its existence. To be frank, most Christians I talk to about these things are pessimistic about the chances of much changing in real ecumenical terms. My optimism is no doubt, privately, treated as some early sign of madness.
Here's the thing, the pessimists this week are right!!
My excitement was fuelled by noticing two articles (here and here) on what was then a forthcoming major, major Orthodox ecumenical event, 55 years in the making, designed to inch all Eastern Orthodox churches towards unity, and not just any kind of unity, but the unit which would shape these churches up for the mother and father of ecumenical encounters, East with (Roman) West.
But then a kindly correspondent drew my attention to this article in The Guardian.
"After an interlude of more than a millennium, 55 years of careful planning, and within days of its opening, the first global gathering of Orthodox churches since the year 787 is teetering on the brink of collapse amid dissent and power struggles.
The historic “holy and great council” of the world’s 14 self-governing Orthodox churches, due to begin in Crete on Sunday, may not go ahead after five pulled out.
The unravelling of the week-long Pan-Orthodox Council, which has been in preparation since 1961, began with Bulgaria saying earlier this month it wanted a postponement, citing disagreements over the agenda."
Certain swear words spring to mind which go well with "Bulgarians".
As for the Russians ...
For another report on the matter of meltdown of the proposed council, see here. Bosco Peters has posted here. There is a very good YouTube interview here (H/T Andrei in comment below). The latest commentary from Alexander Lucie-Smith is here, where he observes that fear of modernity drives the meltdown and notes three terrific reasons for church unity. I feel a post coming on for next week ...
Incidentally, I am all for one church or set of churches declaring itself the "true" church and simultaneously declaring all other "churches" to be false pretenders, anathematizing them in fact as "non churches." According to this logic I belong to the one and only true church. It is perfect in every way, doctrinally, liturgically, morally, ecclesiologically. It only has one member. And you can't join it in case you wreck it :)