Students of history and theology recognize 1054 as one of the most devastating moments in the history of the Church. Christian brothers and sisters of the East and the West formally ceased Communion with each other. The “Great Schism,” as it became known, marked the dawn of an era where Christians grew apart from each other.
For a millennium the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches have attempted to find opportunities to bridge their differences and to come together for a common Christian witness in the world.
On January 5, 2014, Catholic and Orthodox Christians will commemorate the 50-year anniversary of the meeting of Pope Paul VI and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras in Jerusalem. This event marked the first time the Bishop of Rome and the Archbishop of Constantinople personally met in over 500 years. The prayers and efforts of these ecclesiastical giants would prove to bear great fruit.
The following year, on morning of December 7, 1965, with the common lifting of excommunication, Old and New Rome would enter a new epoch, emphasizing dialogue, trust, and love.
The vision and faith of Pope Paul VI and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras have made this website—www.faithandsafety.org—and the broader “Faith and Safety” initiative a reality. This initiative, therefore, not only provides families with the resources needed to navigate the confusing waters of technology, but it also serves as a vehicle that further enhances the relationship between Christian East and West.
These tools will certainly help strengthen our families’ Christian identity. They will also bring Catholics and Orthodox Christians closer to their respective Sister Church. The ecumenical dialogue between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches will continue to move forward; however, “Faith and Safety” is a prime example of what happens when the rubber finally hits the road. As the Director of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese Department of Ecumenical Relations, I am most proud of this effort as it helps tear down the walls that have divided us for centuries.
“Faith and Safety” provides further opportunities for collaboration and communication between Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christians. Indeed, we can say with certainty that the efforts of Pope Paul VI and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras have led us into a new dialogue—A Dialogue of Love.
The Very Reverened Archimandrite
Dr. Nathanael Symeonides
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
Director, Department of Inter-Orthodox and Ecumenical Relations