I just came across a fascinating new blog, De Unione Ecclesiarum, written by a Greek Orthodox scholar who is working on a book about Patriarch John IX (Bekkos) of Constantinople (+1297), an early advocate of Orthodox-Catholic reunion. He explains the purpose of his blog as follows:
De unione ecclesiarum, meaning “On the Union of the Churches,” is the title of one of John Bekkos’s theological writings. It is actually an abbreviated Latin translation of a full title which, in the original Greek, goes like this: Περι της ενωσεως και ειρηνης των της παλαιας και νεας Ρωμης εκκλησιων, “On the Union and Peace of the Churches of Old and New Rome.” John Bekkos wrote this work, in all likelihood, shortly after the beginning of his patriarchate, i.e., sometime during the years 1275 or 1276 (though internal evidence leads me to think that he added some sections to it after this). This was during the time of the “Union of Lyons”: Bekkos wrote this work in defense of an ecclesiastical union between the Greek and Latin Churches which had just taken place, which he hoped would bring an end to the schism of the Churches which had already lasted some two hundred years, a schism which, in Bekkos’s view, lacked genuine theological grounds and had been the occasion of the ruin of his people.
As it happens, the Union of Lyons did not last for more than eight years. Bekkos was condemned by local synods at Constantinople in the years 1283 and 1285, defrocked, excommunicated, and died in prison in the year 1297 … Another attempt to heal the schism of the Churches, at the Council of Ferrara-Florence (1438-39), also failed: although some Eastern Christians accepted that union, the majority rejected it, and continue to do so. The division of the Churches, which in Bekkos’s day had lasted already two hundred years, is now closing in upon a millennium. And, although with God all things are possible, anyone who thinks that this division of the Churches is near to a commonly acceptable solution must be accounted exceedingly naive.
So why a blog titled “De unione ecclesiarum”? If it is not the view of the author of this blog that a union between the Churches is imminent, what good does it do?
Like many things to be found on the blogosphere, this blog arises out of somewhat self-serving purposes. It is, in part, an attempt by its author to get some writing done on a book he is struggling to finish; it is also an attempt by the same author to address issues which have been troubling him for many years. The question of the division of the Churches is, obviously, not only an historical question, but a question of discerning Jesus’ presence and will here and now. The weight of a thousand years of hatred, violence, and misunderstanding can easily deform the soul, making it cynical and slothful, preventing it from seeking truth, from acknowledging truth where it sees it, and from acting upon the truth that it knows. The author of this blog recognizes these deformations in himself. He is not always certain of the solution to historical and theological questions; he is quite certain that cynicism and the breeding of contempt are a bad response. This blog has been begun in the hope that it might make cynicism and contempt a little less prevalent, in himself and others.
I look forward to following this blog, and especially to reading the blogger’s book when it’s published!