Here is a letter I received from Daniel Francis Bonner:
“I am very unhappy that your writer rules out the possibility of a Christianity should there be a “union” of Orthodoxy and Catholicism. I am a Catholic with deep love for Orthodoxy and for Greek culture. I haltingly learned classical Greek (starting with Homer) on my own. Since I try to live an ascetic life inspired by Jesus and drawing from the Carmelites and from many excellent Orthodox theologians, I can only pray that division will dissolve one day in the way that the Blessed Trinity wants. You have a beautiful web site, full of wisdom. Thank you, thank you.”
I too am unhappy that we have come to this point. However, here we are, and good sentiments are not enough for us to have a real union. We can and should study each other and co-operate, but a union needs some time, if it is going to be real. In the current multicultural environment all differences tend to be underestimated. Differences between Christians seem even less important from this point of view, which permitted our political union. Now that we have a united Europe, now is the time to be even more careful as regards the union of the Churches. We must explore the causes of our division and the consequences. We may be unhappy that we are divided, but we must also know the reasons and the extent of the division.
Some people think that it is just papal primacy that divides us. This is not true. The whole Church life and tradition divides us, and if we don’t understand this, we will relativize our traditions to the degree that they will seem unimportant, leaving us united under a foggy concept, that all of us are just “Christians”. Church differences are not the same as secular differences (although they may be to some degree causes and/or effects of the latter). We may have a thousand ways of secular painting – can we also have a thousand ways of Church painting? Can a cubist’s (or Michelangelo’s) portrait of Christ, however great, be considered Church painting? Why not? We must think on these.
Even if the Pope decided to become absolutely Orthodox, as I say in another post, this would not be enough for our traditions to be united. We must live together, work together, terminate the official ‘theological’ dialogues concerning our union, and let the union emerge, if it does, in the course of (much) time, naturally, out of our common life.
The concept now prevailing among those who favour the union is roughly: first we are united in doctrine, and then we start living together. This is wrong. First we live together for a long time, and out of our common life and love our doctrinal union may some time be achieved, when our traditions will have recognized clearly what they should keep and what to abandon in many issues, not only in doctrines.
I won’t say that the Catholic tradition is inferior. A tradition that gave Meister Eckhart can not be inferior in any way whatever. Yet, it can forget its very self and become inferior, as the condemnation of Meister Eckhart shows. If ever Meister Eckhart becomes the centre of your tradition, not at all by a papal decision, but in the whole life of the Catholic peoples, as in the Orthodox peoples the centre is in St. Symeon the New Theologian and in many other Fathers who enjoy direct and powerful experience of God, then our Churches will know that they can be united.