Further Reading

The below articles and essays are sourced from around the web as an aid to further understanding of the basics of Eastern Christianity, its past and present, and of ecumenical thought from numerous perspectives. Authors are from a variety of traditions, including Eastern Catholic, Orthodox, and Latin Catholic. Clicking the links will take you to a third party website in a new tab. Links to archived versions will also be provided in the event the link goes offline. This is intended to be a living document and will be updated as appropriate.

Celibacy in Context
By Hieromonk Maximos Davies

It seems that the one thing everyone knows about the Eastern Churches is that “they have married priests.” Unfortunately, this often seems to be the only thing many people know about Eastern Christianity. What does not seem to be widely understood is that the Eastern Churches have very distinct theological, liturgical, and spiritual cultures in which the practice of ordaining married men to the priesthood (but not to the episcopate) must be understood. If Western Catholics want to use the example of the Eastern Churches as a guide for their own situation it is imperative that they understand how a married clergy fits into this unique Church culture. Read more…

Orthodox-Catholic Relations
By Father Constantine Frank

“It is only in worship, with a keen sense of the transcendence of the inexpressible mystery ‘which surpasses knowledge’ (Eph. 3:19), that we will be able to see our divergences in their proper setting and ‘to lay. . . no greater burden than these necessary things’ (Acts 15:28), so as to reestablish communion. . . . It seems to me, in fact, that the question we must ask ourselves is not so much whether we can reestablish full communion, but rather whether we still have the right to remain separated. We must ask ourselves this question in the very name of our faithfulness to Christ’s will for his Church, for which constant prayer must make us both increasingly open and ready in the course of the Theological Dialogue.”  Read more…

Towards a Common Date for Easter
World Council of Churches

“Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival.” 1 Cor. 5:7-8. In the 20th century the churches have rediscovered a deep concern for Christian unity. They have expressed this in their efforts to find common ground on theological issues that have long divided them. They have learned to give common witness in a variety of ways. But despite this progress towards visible unity, many challenges remain. One very sensitive issue, with enormous pastoral consequences for all the Christian faithful, has taken on growing urgency: the need to find a common date for the celebration of Easter, the Holy Pascha, the feast of Christ’s resurrection. Read more…

The Myth of Schism
By David Bentley Hart

The division between the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches—officially almost a millennium old, but in many ways far older—has often enough been characterized as the ineluctable effect of one or another irreconcilable and irreducible difference: political (Caesars and Czars as opposed to princes and popes), cultural (Greek or Byzantine as opposed to Latin or Frankish), theological (divergent views of nature and grace or original sin), doctrinal (the filioque clause, papal infallibility, and so on), ritual (leavened bread and icons as opposed to azymes and statuary), ecclesiological (patriarchal pentarchy and sobornost as opposed to universal papal jurisdiction and monarchia) Read more…

Which Councils are Ecumenical?
By Father Francis Dvornik

It is generally expected that, after the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council the atmosphere will be favorable for dialogues be­tween the representatives of Roman Catholics and the leaders of other Christian churches with a view to finding ways towards a better understanding and a more intimate rapprochement which could lead finally to a reunion. Many Catholic leaders think that a dialogue with the Eastern Orthodox Churches should begin as early as possible and hope for positive results since there are no fundamental dogmatic differences between the Roman and Orthodox Churches. This may be true, but it is premature to expect a speedy agree­ment  Read more…

No, Pascha does not have to be after Passover
By Father Andrew Stephen Damick

Right around this time of year, various articles and images begin circulating, giving explanations as to why the Orthodox Pascha (Easter) celebration is usually a week or more after the Western Easter. Most will mention something about the Julian calendar and how its spring equinox is different from the one on the Gregorian calendar. The traditional formula for the date of Pascha (the Paschalion) is this: It is to be celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox. But one piece of the explanation that comes quite often is this: Urban Legend #1: The Orthodox Paschal celebration must come after the Jewish Passover, and that’s why Western Easter is different from Orthodox Pascha. Read more…