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The Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church have been in a state of official schism from one another since the East–West Schism of 1054. This schism was caused by historical and linguistic developments, and the ensuing theological differences between the Western and Eastern churches.
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with approximately 1.3 billion baptised Catholics worldwide as of 2017. As the world's oldest and largest continuously functioning international institution, it has played a prominent role in the history and development of Western civilisation. The church is headed by the Bishop of Rome, known as the pope. Its central administration, the Holy See, is in the Vatican City, an enclave within the city of Rome in Italy.
The Eastern Orthodox Church, officially the Orthodox Catholic Church, is the second-largest Christian church, with approximately 260 million baptised members.It operates as a communion of autocephalous churches, each governed by its bishops in local synods, although roughly half of Eastern Orthodox Christians live in Russia. The church has no central doctrinal or governmental authority analogous to the Bishop of Rome, but the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople is recognised by all as primus inter pares of the bishops. As one of the oldest surviving religious institutions in the world, the Eastern Orthodox Church has played a prominent role in the history and culture of Eastern and Southeastern Europe, the Caucasus, and the Near East.
The East–West Schism, also called the Great Schism and the Schism of 1054, was the break of communion between what are now the Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox churches, which has lasted from the 11th century. The Schism was the culmination of theological and political differences between the Christian East and West which had developed over the preceding centuries.
Main points of discontent for the Catholic Church are the papal primacyand the filioque clause. For Eastern Orthodox the main point of discontent is voiced by neo-Palamism, which sees the essence-energy distinction, and the experiential vision of God as attained in theoria and theosis, as the main point of divergence between East and West.
Papal primacy, also known as the primacy of the Bishop of Rome, is an ecclesiastical doctrine concerning the respect and authority that is due to the pope from other bishops and their episcopal sees.
Filioque is a Latin term added to the original Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed, and which has been the subject of great controversy between Eastern and Western Christianity. It is not in the original text of the Creed, attributed to the First Council of Constantinople (381), the second ecumenical council, which says that the Holy Spirit proceeds "from the Father", without additions of any kind, such as "and the Son" or "alone".
Although the 20th century saw a growth of anti-western sentiments with the rise of neo-Palamism, "the future of East–West rapprochement appears to be overcoming the modern polemics of neo-scholasticism and neo-Palamism".Since the Second Vatican Council, the Catholic Church has generally taken the approach that the schism is primarily ecclesiological in nature, that the doctrinal teachings of the Eastern Orthodox churches are generally sound, and that "the vision of the full communion to be sought is that of unity in legitimate diversity" as before the division.
Neo-scholasticism, is a revival and development of medieval scholasticism in Roman Catholic theology and philosophy which began in the second half of the 19th century.
The Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican, commonly known as the Second Vatican Council or Vatican II, addressed relations between the Catholic Church and the modern world. The council, through the Holy See, was formally opened under the pontificate of Pope John XXIII on 11 October 1962 and was closed under Pope Paul VI on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception on 8 December 1965.
Full communion is a communion or relationship of full understanding among different Christian denominations that share certain essential principles of Christian theology. Views vary among denominations on exactly what constitutes full communion, but typically when two or more denominations are in full communion it enables services and celebrations, such as the Eucharist, to be shared among congregants or clergy of any of them with the full approval of each.
Both churches accept the decisions of the first seven Ecumenical Councils of the undivided Church. These are:
The First Council of Nicaea was a council of Christian bishops convened in the Bithynian city of Nicaea by the Roman Emperor Constantine I in AD 325.
The First Council of Constantinople was a council of Christian bishops convened in Constantinople in AD 381 by the Roman Emperor Theodosius I. This second ecumenical council, an effort to attain consensus in the church through an assembly representing all of Christendom, except for the Western Church, confirmed the Nicene Creed, expanding the doctrine thereof to produce the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed, and dealt with sundry other matters. It met from May to July 381 in the Church of Hagia Irene and was affirmed as ecumenical in 451 at the Council of Chalcedon.
The Council of Chalcedon was a church council held from 8 October to 1 November, 451, at Chalcedon, a town of Bithynia in Asia Minor. The Council was called by Emperor Marcian to set aside the 449 Second Council of Ephesus. Its principal purpose was to assert the orthodox catholic doctrine against the heresy of Eutyches and the Monophysites, although ecclesiastical discipline and jurisdiction also occupied the council's attention.
There is therefore doctrinal agreement on:
Christology, literally "the understanding of Christ," is the study of the nature (person) and work of Jesus Christ. It studies Jesus Christ's humanity and divinity, and the relation between these two aspects; and the role he plays in salvation.
Apostolic succession is the method whereby the ministry of the Christian Church is held to be derived from the apostles by a continuous succession, which has usually been associated with a claim that the succession is through a series of bishops. This series was seen originally as that of the bishops of a particular see founded by one or more of the apostles. According to historian Justo L. González, apostolic succession is generally understood today as meaning a series of bishops, regardless of see, each consecrated by other bishops, themselves consecrated similarly in a succession going back to the apostles. According to the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue Between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, "apostolic succession" means more than a mere transmission of powers. It is succession in a Church which witnesses to the apostolic faith, in communion with the other Churches, witnesses of the same apostolic faith. The "see (cathedra) plays an important role in inserting the bishop into the heart of ecclesial apostolicity", but, once ordained, the bishop becomes in his Church the guarantor of apostolicity and becomes a successor of the apostles.
A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight.
Neither Church community subscribes to the Protestant teachings expressed in the five solae , especially regarding the teachings of salvation through faith alone (which the Protesant community understands as requiring no acts of love and charity) or of sola Scriptura (which they understand as excluding doctrinal teachings passed down through the Church from the apostles in the form of sacred tradition).
The Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church have been in a state of official schism from one another since the East–West Schism of 1054. This schism was caused by historical and linguistic developments, and the ensuing theological differences between the Western and Eastern churches.
The Roman Empire was divided into a predominantly Greek speaking Eastern half and a Latin speaking Western half, resulting in a separation into two empires: The Western Empire and the Eastern Empire (also known as the Byzantine Empire or Byzantium) with the passing of Theodosius I in AD 395. With the fall of the Western Empire in 476 AD, the whole of what had been the western part of the empire was ruled by Germanic people. The subsequent mutual alienation of the Greek-speaking East and the Latin-speaking West led to increasing ignorance of the theological and ecclesiological developments of each tradition.
The Eastern Church and the Western Church used respectively Greek and Latin as its medium of communication. Translations did not always correspond exactly. This also led to misunderstandings.
Papal primacy, also known as the "primacy of the Bishop of Rome," is an ecclesiastical doctrine concerning the respect and authority that is due to the pope from other bishops and their episcopal sees .
In the Eastern Orthodox Churches, some understand the primacy of the Bishop of Rome to be merely one of greater honour, regarding him as primus inter pares ("first among equals"), without effective power over other churches.Other Orthodox Christian theologians, however, view primacy as authoritative power: the expression, manifestation and realization in one bishop of the power of all the bishops and of the unity of the Church.
The Roman Catholic Church attributes to the primacy of the Pope "full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered,"a power that it attributes also to the entire body of the bishops united with the pope. The power that it attributes to the pope's primatial authority has limitations that are official, legal, dogmatic, and practical.
In the Ravenna Document, issued in 2007, representatives of the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church jointly stated that both East and West accept the fact of the Bishop of Rome's primacy at the universal level, but that differences of understanding exist about how the primacy is to be exercised and about its scriptural and theological foundations.
Differences over this doctrine and the question of papal primacy have been and remain primary causes of schism between the Eastern Orthodox and Western churches.The term has been an ongoing source of conflict between Eastern Christianity and Western Christianity, contributing, in major part, to the East–West Schism of 1054 and proving to be an obstacle to attempts to reunify the two sides.
Filioque (Ecclesiastical Latin: [filiˈɔkwe] , literally "and [from] the Son" [ discuss ]) is a Latin term added to the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed (commonly known as the Nicene Creed), which is absent in the original Greek version. The Latin term Filioque describes the procession of the Holy Spirit as double, and is translated into the English clause "and the Son" in that creed:
or in Latin:
The Filioque is included in the form of the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed used in most Western Christian churches, [ contradictory ] It was accepted by the popes only in 1014 and is rejected by the Eastern Orthodox Church, Oriental Orthodox Churches and Church of the East.first appearing in the 6th century.
Whether that term Filioque is included, as well as how it is translated and understood, can have important implications for how one understands the central Christian doctrine of the Holy Trinity. For some, the term implies a serious underestimation of the Father's role in the Trinity; for others, denial of what it expresses implies a serious underestimation of the role of the Son in the Trinity. Over time, the term became a symbol of conflict between Eastern Christianity and Western Christianity, although there have been attempts at resolving the conflict. Among the early attempts at harmonization are the works of Maximus the Confessor, who notably was canonised independently by both Eastern and Western churches.
In 1995, the PCPCU pointed out that the Filioque conundrum may be a problem of language, rather than a problem of theology. ἐκπορεύεσθαι in Greek indicates a primary cause or an ultimate cause; while the Latin word procedere indicates a procession but not from an ultimate cause. The Latin version may be more accurately retranslated into Greek as προϊέναι, rather than ἐκπορεύεσθαι. Metropolitan John Zizioulas declared that PCPCU (1995) shows positive signs of reconciliation for the Filioque issue between the Eastern and Western churches.The word
The 20th century saw the rise of neo-Palamism, c.q. "Neo-Orthodox Movement," in the Eastern Orthodox Churches. According to this point of view, which arose in defense of the Palamite distinction between essence and energia, western theology is dominated by rational philosophy, while Orthodox theology is based on the experiential vision of God and the highest truth. According to neo-Palamism, this is a main division between East and West.
Neo-Palamism has its roots in the Hesychast controversy or Palamite controversy (14th century),in which Gregory Palamas provided a theological justification for the centuries-old Orthodox practice of hesychasm. The hesychast controversy lead to a further distinction between East and West, giving a prominent place to the contemplative practice and theology in the Eastern Orthodox Churches. The publication in 1782 of the Philokalia, which lead to a revival of hesychasm, accepted in particular by the Slav Orthodox churches. Together with the importance attached to it in the 20th century by the Paris school of Orthodox theology it has "led to hesychasm's becoming definitive for modern Orthodox theology as never before," with its Palamite Essence–energies distinction.
According to these modern Eastern Orthodox theologians, western theology depends too much on kataphatic theology. According to Steenberg, Eastern theologians assert that Christianity in essence is apodictic truth, in contrast to the dialectic, dianoia or rationalised knowledge which is the arrived at truth by way of philosophical speculation.
While Thomas Aquinas argued that kataphonic and apophatic theology need to balance each other, Vladimir Lossky argued, based on his reading of Dionysius the Areopagite and Maximus the Confessor, that positive theology is always inferior to negative theology.According to Lossky mysticism, c.q. gnosiology, is the expression of dogmatic theology par excellence, while positive theology is a step along the way to the superior knowledge attained by negation. According to Lossky, the difference in East and West is due to the Catholic Church's use of pagan metaphysical philosophy, and its outgrowth, scholasticism, rather than the mystical, actual experience of God called theoria, to validate the theological dogmas of Catholic Christianity. Lossky argues that therefore the Eastern Orthodox and Catholics have become "different men," stating that "Revelation sets an abyss between the truth which it declares and the truths which can be discovered by philosophical speculation."
Lossky had a strong influence on 20th century Orthodox theology, and influenced John Romanides, himself also an influential theologian on his own. Romanides saw a strong dichotomy between Orthodox and western views, arguing that the influence of the Franks, and western acceptance of Augustine's theology, is the starting point of western rational theology, and the dichotomy between east and west.
This same sentiment was also expressed by the early Slavophile movements (19th century) in the works of Ivan Kireevsky and Aleksey Khomyakov. The Slavophiles sought reconciliation with all various forms of Christianity, as can be seen in the works of its most famous proponent Vladimir Solovyov.
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Hesychasm, "to keep stillness," is a mystical tradition of contemplative prayer in the Eastern Orthodox Church, which already existed in the fourth century CE with the Desert Fathers. Its aim is theosis, deification obtained through the practice of contemplative prayer,the first stage of theoria, leading to the "vision of God". It consists of three stages, namely catharsis, theoria, and completion of deification, c.q. theosis.
The knowledge of God is attained by theoria, "the vision of God." </ref> This is also referred to as experiencing the uncreated light of God, the light of Tabor of Christ's Transfiguration as was seen by the apostles at Mount Tabor.
The Hesychast controversy was a theological dispute in the Byzantine Empire during the 14th century between supporters and opponents of Gregory Palamas. Gregory Palamas of Thessaloniki (1296-1359), provided a theological justification for the practice of hesychasm. Palamas stated that there is a distinction between the essence ( ousia ) and the energies ( energeia ) of God. While God in his essence is unknowable and indeterminible, the vision of God can be attained when his energy is seen with the eyes as the Uncreated Light. Palamas formulated his ideas on this distinction as part of his defense of the Athonite monastic practice of hesychasmos against the charge of heresy brought by the humanist scholar and theologian Barlaam of Calabria.
Orthodox theologians generally regard this distinction as a real distinction, and not just a conceptual distinction.Historically, Western Christian thought has tended to reject the essence-energies distinction as real in the case of God, characterizing the view as a heretical introduction of an unacceptable division in the Trinity and suggestive of polytheism.
The later 20th century saw a change in the attitude of Roman Catholic theologians to Palamas.While some Western theologians see the theology of Palamas as introducing an inadmissible division within God, others have incorporated his theology into their own thinking, maintaining that there is no conflict between his teaching and Roman Catholic thought.
Sergey S. Horujy states that "hesychast studies may provide fresh look at some old interconfessional divisions, disclosing unexpected points of resemblance",and Jeffrey D. Finch says that "the future of East-West rapprochement appears to be overcoming the modern polemics of neo-scholasticism and neo-Palamism".
Pope John Paul II repeatedly emphasized his respect for Eastern theology as an enrichment for the whole Church. While from a Catholic viewpoint there have been tensions concerning some developments of the practice of hesychasm, the Pope said, there is no denying the goodness of the intention that inspired its defence.
Jeffrey D. Finch claims that "the future of East–West rapprochement appears to be overcoming the modern polemics of neo-scholasticism and neo-Palamism".
The Catholic Church considers that the differences between Eastern and Western theology are complementary rather than contradictory, as stated in the decree Unitatis redintegratio of the Second Vatican Council, which declared:
In the study of revelation East and West have followed different methods, and have developed differently their understanding and confession of God's truth. It is hardly surprising, then, if from time to time one tradition has come nearer to a full appreciation of some aspects of a mystery of revelation than the other, or has expressed it to better advantage. In such cases, these various theological expressions are to be considered often as mutually complementary rather than conflicting. Where the authentic theological traditions of the Eastern Church are concerned, we must recognize the admirable way in which they have their roots in Holy Scripture, and how they are nurtured and given expression in the life of the liturgy. They derive their strength too from the living tradition of the apostles and from the works of the Fathers and spiritual writers of the Eastern Churches. Thus they promote the right ordering of Christian life and, indeed, pave the way to a full vision of Christian truth.
The Catholic Church's attitude was also expressed by Pope John Paul II in the image of the Church "breathing with her two lungs".He meant that there should be a combination of the more rational, juridical, organization-minded "Latin" temperament with the intuitive, mystical and contemplative spirit found in the east.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, citing documents of the Second Vatican Council and of Pope Paul VI, states:
"The Church knows that she is joined in many ways to the baptized who are honoured by the name of Christian, but do not profess the Catholic faith in its entirety or have not preserved unity or communion under the successor of Peter" (Lumen gentium 15). Those "who believe in Christ and have been properly baptized are put in a certain, although imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church" (Unitatis redintegratio 3). With the Orthodox Churches, this communion is so profound "that it lacks little to attain the fulness that would permit a common celebration of the Lord's Eucharist" (Paul VI, Discourse, 14 December 1975; cf. Unitatis redintegratio 13-18).
On 10 July 2007 the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith published a document,approved by Pope Benedict XVI, that stated that the Eastern churches are separated from Rome (the member churches of the Eastern Orthodox Church, Oriental Orthodoxy and the Assyrian Church of the East) and for that very reason "lack something in their condition as particular churches", and that the division also means that "the fullness of universality, which is proper to the Church governed by the Successor of Peter and the Bishops in communion with him, is not fully realised in history."
On 3 July 2019, it was revealed that during a Vatican meeting with Orthodox Archbishop Job of Telmessos, who represented the Orthodox Church's Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, during the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul on 29 June 2019, Pope Francis stated that unity rather than leveling differences should be the goal between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.Pope Francis also gave Bartholomew nine bone fragments which were believed to have belonged to St. Peter and which were displayed at a public Mass which was held in the Vatican in November 2013 to celebrate the 'Year of Faith.' Despite holding a "cordial" meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, with whom the Pope has had a history of good relations with, on 4 July 2019, tensions between the Vatican and Russian Orthodox churches still remained, with Pope Francis stating that it is unlikely that he will visit Russia unless Putin agrees to not include the Russian Orthodox Church in the visit. Putin also stated to the Pope that he would not invite the Pope to Russia without this condition. Pope Francis also hinted that was willing to support the concerns of Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, which has expressed opposition to both Putin's intervention in Ukraine and the Vatican's current relationship with Putin.
At the beginning of a two day Vatican meeting with Ukrainian Greek-Catholic leaders on 5 July 2019, Pope Francis hinted that he supported the Church's concerns in Ukraine and called for greater humanitarian aid to Ukraine.The Pope previously expressed dismay over the Russian Orthodox Church's role in the conflict in Ukraine in early 2019 as well. During the 5 July 2019 meeting, Pope Francis also accused the Russian Orthodox Church of attempting to manipulate "other religions" in Ukraine as well.
Hesychasm is a mystical tradition of contemplative prayer in the Eastern Orthodox Church. Based on Jesus's injunction in the Gospel of Matthew that "when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray", hesychasm in tradition has been the process of retiring inward by ceasing to register the senses, in order to achieve an experiential knowledge of God.
Gregory Palamas was a prominent theologian and ecclesiastical figure of the late Byzantine period. A monk of Mount Athos and later archbishop of Thessaloniki, he is famous for his defense of hesychast spirituality, the uncreated character of the light of the Transfiguration, and the distinction between God's essence and energies. His teaching unfolded over the course of three major controversies, (1) with the Italo-Greek Barlaam between 1336 and 1341, (2) with the monk Gregory Akindynos between 1341 and 1347, and (3) with the philosopher Gregoras, from 1348 to 1355. His theological contributions are sometimes referred to as Palamism, and his followers as Palamites.
John Savvas Romanides was an Orthodox Christian priest, author and professor who had a distinctive influence on post-war Greek Orthodox theology.
The essence–energies distinction is an Eastern Orthodox theological concept that states that there is a distinction between the essence (ousia) and the energies (energeia) of God. It was formulated by Gregory Palamas of Thessaloniki (1296–1359), as part of his defense of the Athonite monastic practice of hesychasmos against the charge of heresy brought by the humanist scholar and theologian Barlaam of Calabria.
Mystical theology is the branch of theology that explains mystical practices and states, as induced by contemplative practices such as contemplative prayer.
The history of the Eastern Orthodox Church is traced back to Jesus Christ and the Apostles. The Apostles appointed successors, known as bishops, and they in turn appointed other bishops in a process known as Apostolic succession. Over time, five Patriarchates were established to organize the Christian world, and four of these ancient Patriarchates remain Orthodox today. Orthodox Christianity reached its present form in Late Antiquity, when the Ecumenical Councils were held, doctrinal disputes were resolved, the Fathers of the Church lived and wrote, and Orthodox worship practices settled into their permanent form.
In Eastern Orthodox Christian theology, the Tabor Light is the light revealed on Mount Tabor at the Transfiguration of Jesus, identified with the light seen by Paul at his conversion.
Palamism or the Palamite theology comprises the teachings of Gregory Palamas (c.1296–1359), whose writings defended the Eastern Orthodox notion of Hesychasm against the attack of Barlaam. Followers of Palamas are sometimes referred to as Palamites.
History of the East–West Schism refers to history of the East–West Schism that occurred in 1054, representing one of the most significant events in the history of Christianity. It includes various events and processes that led to the Schism, and also those events and processes that occurred as a result of the Schism. Eastern and Western Christians had a history of differences and disagreements, some dating back even to the period of Early Christianity. At the very root of what later became the Great Schism were several questions of pneumatology and ecclesiology. The most important theological difference occurred over various questions regarding the procession of the Holy Spirit, and the use of the Filioque clause in the Creed. One of the main ecclesiological issues was the question of Papal supremacy. Other points of difference were related to various liturgical, mainly ritual and disciplinary customs and practices. Some political and cultural processes also contributed to the breakout of the Schism.
Christianity in the Middle Ages covers the history of Christianity from the Fall of the Western Roman Empire until the Fall of Constantinople (1453), which is usually taken to make the end of the Middle Ages in the History of Europe.
Theosis, or divinization, is a transformative process whose aim is likeness to or union with God, as taught by the Eastern Orthodox Church and Eastern Catholic Churches. As a process of transformation, theosis is brought about by the effects of catharsis and theoria. According to Eastern Christian teaching, theosis is very much the purpose of human life. It is considered achievable only through a synergy between human activity and God's uncreated energies.
The Triads of Gregory Palamas are a set of nine treatises entitled "Triads For The Defense of Those Who Practice Sacred Quietude" written by Gregory Palamas in response to attacks made by Barlaam. The treatises are called "Triads" because they were organized as three sets of three treatises.
The history of Eastern Orthodox Christian theology begins with the life of Jesus and the forming of the Christian Church. Major events include the Chalcedonian schism with the Oriental Orthodox miaphysites, the Iconoclast controversy, the Photian schism, the Great Schism between East and West, and the Hesychast controversy. The period after the Second World War saw a re-engagement with the Greek, and more recently Syriac, Fathers that included a rediscovery of the theological works of St. Gregory Palamas, which has resulted in a renewal of Orthodox theology in the 20th and 21st centuries.
The Hesychast controversy was a theological dispute in the Byzantine Empire during the 14th century between supporters and opponents of Gregory Palamas. While not a primary driver of the Byzantine Civil War, it influenced and was influenced by the political forces in play during that war. The dispute concluded with the victory of the Palamists and the inclusion of Palamite doctrine as part of the dogma of the Eastern Orthodox Church as well as the canonization of Palamas.
20th century Eastern Orthodox theology has been dominated by neo-Palamism, the revival of St. Palamas and hesychasm. John Behr characterizes Orthodox theology as having been "reborn in the twentieth century." Norman Russell describes Orthodox theology as having been dominated by an "arid scholasticism" for several centuries after the fall of Constantinople. Russell describes the postwar re-engagement of modern Greek theologians with the Greek Fathers, which occurred with the help of diaspora theologians and Western patristic scholars. A significant component of this re-engagement with the Greek Fathers has been a rediscovery of Palamas by Greek theologians; Palamas had previously been given less attention than the other Fathers.
The history of the Filioque controversy is the historical development of theological controversies within Christianity regarding three distinctive issues: the orthodoxy of the doctrine of procession of the Holy Spirit as represented by the Filioque clause, the nature of anathemas mutually imposed by conflicted sides during the Filioque controversy, and the liceity (legitimacy) of the insertion of the Filoque phrase into the Nicene Creed. Although the debates over the orthodoxy of the doctrine of procession and the nature of related anathemas preceded the question of the admissibility of the phrase as inserted into the Creed, all of those issues became linked when the insertion received the approval of the Pope in the eleventh century.
The position of the Eastern Orthodox Church regarding the Filioque controversy is defined by the Bible, teachings of the Church Fathers, creeds and definitions of the seven Ecumenical Councils and decisions of several particular councils of the Eastern Orthodox Church.
Catholic-Orthodox relations have warmed over the last century, as both churches embrace a dialogue of charity. The Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) ushered in a new era of relations for the Catholic Church towards the Eastern Church, fondly describing the Orthodox as “separated brethren” with valid sacraments and an apostolic priesthood. The Orthodox Church, on the other hand, encouraged local churches to prepare for future dialogue in the Third Pan-Orthodox Conference in Rhodes (1964), and has since engaged in several ecumenical efforts with the Vatican. Significantly, in 1965 Pope Paul VI and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras I of Constantinople mutually lifted their respective excommunications.
President Vladimir Putin struck up his friendship with the Pope in 2013 when Francis wrote an open letter to the Russian leader, who was chairing the G20, telling him he opposed US military intervention in Syria.