Benedict XVI and Bartholomew I are examining the possibility of opening together the next round of the Joint Theological Commission to show their shared desire to pursue the path of full communion.
According to sources from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, the meeting should take place in Ravenna (Italy) in the early months of next year.
The same sources indicate that the sensational proposal was made by Bartholomew I during the Pope’s visit to Istanbul.
Card Walter Kasper, head of the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity, is said to have liked the idea and Benedict XVI approved it in principle, conditional on his future agenda.
The Joint Commission began to meet again after six years. It was suspended because of the impossibility to find common ground on issues like the place of the Uniate Churches, i.e. Catholic Churches, especially in Ukraine and Romania, which reached full communion with Rome in the 16th century whilst at the same time preserving the Eastern rituals and liturgies.
Suppressed under Stalinist rule, their property and congregations were “passed onto” the Orthodox Church. But with the fall of the Berlin Wall, Uniate Churches rose again and began demanding restitution, sometime tactlessly, of their churches and other properties.
In turn, this started a row that continues to this day over the alleged aggressiveness of Catholics now accused of proselytising among Orthodox. With the Joint Commi