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Pope Returns Icon  —  to No Effect

by Christopher A. Ferrara

So, the Icon of Kazan  —  or one of many copies of it  —  has been returned to Moscow as an "ecumenical" gesture, and the results for Christian unity, quite predictably, are these: nothing and none.

As CWNews reported on August 30, 2004: "As a Vatican delegation restored a precious icon to the Russian Orthodox Church, in a heavily anticipated August 28 ceremony, the Holy See emphasized the importance of the gesture, while the Russian Patriarchate downplayed it." Did this surprise anyone?

In his message accompanying the Icon, the Pope insisted that "this sacred icon appears as a symbol of the unity" of Christ’s followers. With all due respect, the symbol of what unity? The Russian Orthodox are as far from Rome today  —  farther, in fact  —  than they were in 1054, when the Orthodox schism began.

Russian Patriarch Alexei sniffed that return of the icon was "the first step toward restoring brotherly relations." The first step  —  after 25 years of "ecumenical dialogue" with the Pope? At this rate of ecumenical "progress," the world will end before the Orthodox return to Rome.

CWN further reported that "in comments to the press after the ceremony, he (Alexei) underlined his insistence that the Vatican must make more concessions to the Orthodox position before further ecumenical progress is possible." There we have it, yet again: for the Orthodox "ecumenical progress" means only one thing  —  Vatican concessions.

And what concessions does Alexei demand? The same as always: "Alexei II has frequently repeated that the Catholic Church must renounce ‘proselytism’ in Eastern Europe, and accept the Orthodox premise that the countries of that region are the ‘canonical territory’ of the Orthodox churches." That is, Alexei demands that the Catholic Church renounce Her divine commission in Russia, and leave Russia to the Orthodox schismatics. In short, the Catholic Church, says Alexei, must formally approve the schism of 1054. Simply outrageous  —  but only typical of the way our "partners" in "ecumenical dialogue" behave, ever since the Vatican made the mistake of empowering them by treating them as if they were on equal footing with the one true Church.

CWN notes that (according to AsiaNews service), "while a Lutheran group led by the Bishop of Oslo was given an official role in the ceremony at Moscow’s Orthodox cathedral, the city’s Catholics were not." That says it all. And what it says is this: ecumenism is a joke, an insult to the Catholic Church, and an offense to God Almighty.