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Joint Catholic-Orthodox Declaration - Timeline Event

Founder

Pope Paul VI and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras I

Time Period

12-07-1965

Description

In 1054, a cardinal and papal legate excommunicated the Patriarch of Constantinople, Michael Cerularius, who in turn excommunicated the two representatives of the Pope. This acted as a tipping point following a long period of tension between the Eastern and Western churches, which eventually led to the Great Schism.

During the Second Vatican Council in 1964, Catholic leaders and Orthodox representatives began discussing greater efforts of ecumenism between Catholic and Orthodox churches. On December 7, 1965, one day before the conclusion of Vatican II, Pope Paul VI and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras I jointly promulgated a decree that lifted the mutual excommunications of 1054 and declared, "These censures were not intended to break ecclesiastical communion between the Sees of Rome and Constantinople."

This event reflected a growing desire for reconciliation between both churches and led to firmer ecumenical relations after centuries of mutual excommunication.

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Narrative

In 1054, a cardinal and papal legate excommunicated the Patriarch of Constantinople, Michael Cerularius, who in turn excommunicated the two representatives of the Pope. This acted as a tipping point following a long period of tension between the Eastern and Western churches, which eventually led to the Great Schism.

During the Second Vatican Council in 1964, Catholic leaders issued the Decree on Ecumenism, Unitatis Redintegratio, which noted that reunification with the Orthodox was a primary concern of their church's participation in the ecumenical movement and which endorsed limited worship in common between members of the two churches. Orthodox representatives also had participated as observers at Vatican II, and Orthodox leaders likewise discussed the question of ecumenism with Catholics at the third Pan-Orthodox Conference at Rhodes in 1964. Other ecumenical dialogues, primarily between Protestant churches but occasionally also including Catholic and Orthodox participants, had been ongoing for some time before 1964.

On December 7, 1965, one day before the conclusion of Vatican II, Pope Paul VI and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras I jointly promulgated a decree that lifted the mutual excommunications of 1054 and declared, “These censures were not intended to break ecclesiastical communion between the Sees of Rome and Constantinople.”

Following the decree, Catholic and Orthodox representatives began trying to forge firmer ecumenical relations with one another, leading to the creation of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church by Pope John Paul II and Patriarch Dimitrios I in 1979.

Religious Groups

Timeline Entries for the same religious group: Eastern Liturgical Family (Orthodox)
Eastern Liturgical Family (Orthodox): Other ARDA Links
Eastern Liturgical Family (Orthodox): Religious Family Tree
Catholicism (Western Liturgical Family): Other ARDA Links
Catholicism (Western Liturgical Family): Religious Family Tree

Biographies

of Constantinople, Athenagoras I
VI, Paul

Photographs

Mosaic of Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras I- Wikimedia Commons- photo by Abraham
Mosaic of Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras I- Wikimedia Commons- photo by Abraham

Pope Paul VI- Wikimedia Commons- Vatican City official portrait
Pope Paul VI- Wikimedia Commons- Vatican City official portrait

Athenagoras of Constantinople (cropped from Aristotle Onassis Patriarch Athenagoras)- Wikimedia Commons- photo by Pieter Jafarzadeh, from Nationaal Archief Fotocollectie ANEFO (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Athenagoras of Constantinople (cropped from Aristotle Onassis Patriarch Athenagoras)- Wikimedia Commons- photo by Pieter Jafarzadeh, from Nationaal Archief Fotocollectie ANEFO (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Book/Journal Source(s)

Gros, Jeffrey, 2010. The Unity of Christians: The United States Catholic Witness U.S. Catholic Historian 28, no. 2.
Roberson, Ronald G., 2010. The Dialogues of the Catholic Church with the Separated Eastern Churches U.S. Catholic Historian 28, no. 2.

Web Source(s)

https://www.vatican.va/content/paul-vi/en/speeches/1965/documents/hf_p-vi_spe_19651207_common-declaration.html
"Joint Catholic-Orthodox Declaration of His Holiness Pope Paul VI and the Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras I" (December 7, 1965)

Web Page Contributor

William S. Cossen
Affliated with: Pennsylvania State University, Ph.D. in History

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