(CWNews.com) - The 46-paragraph document approved at the Ravenna meeting-- which is due for release on November 15-- refers to the Bishop of Rome as the "first among the patriarchs," La Repubblica reported. The document recognizes the historical patriarchates of the united Church, in Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem. Among these, the Ravenna participants agreed, Rome has primacy.
However, the Ravenna document does not settle questions about the power the Pope enjoys as a consequence of that primacy. In fact, the members of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue noted in their concluding statement that Catholic and Orthodox theologians disagree "on the interpretation of the historical evidence from this era regarding the prerogatives of the bishop of Rome as protos," or first among the patriarchs....
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THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: Vatican officials are trying to downplay the historical significance of this document so as to avoid wild speculation. The Orthodox churches have agreed with Rome on the "primacy" of the pope, but not the "authority" that primacy carries with it. Which means there is still much ground yet to be covered in the reconciliation talks. Nevertheless this is a historic day. The recognition of "primacy" is vitally important in these reconciliation talks. They have effectively agreed that Peter was the primary and preeminent apostle, and that his successors (the popes) share in that preeminence. This makes the pope the "first among the patriarchs." The patriarchs are the heads of the various Orthodox churches throughout the world. So effectively what they're saying is that they recognize the pope as first among the patriarchs -- even their own patriarchs. They only thing they have yet to resolve is how this translates into authority over their patriarchs - if any. That may be a subject for another time. For now, let us rejoice in this incredible development. It's something that hasn't been seen in nearly a thousand years.