There is an old journalistic saying “publish and be damned”. That seems to be the motto of Sandro Magister on his website www.chiesa.espressonline.it
On Monday he published an excellent article reporting on the current state of Catholic-Orthodox dialogue. As the superlative journalist that he is, he sought to give “all the facts” and original sources for his story, including the working document for the current round of discussions of the Joint Coordinating Committee for the Theological Dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church. This document, written by Aghios Nikolaos of Crete, is the basis for discussion of this very sensitive topic by the dialogue group, working under the joint chairmanship of Cardinal Kapser and Metropolitan Ioannis Zizioulas of Pergamum. Its existence was reported by Zenit last October. I immediately searched the net for it back then, but was disappointed to find that it was unavailable for consultation.
Imagine my delight then (and probably the delight of many ecumenists around the world and the equal horror of many who oppose the talks currently underway) when Magister made this document available – in English – on his website. It is an excellent round up of the first millenium situation, and raises many issues that I am sure will provide fruitful dialogue.
Not all were so delighted. The Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity “were not amused”, and issued a press statement to say so:
“The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity has learned with disappointment that a media outlet has published a test currently being examined by the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church.
“The document published is a draft text consisting of a list of themes to be studied and examined in greater depth, and has been only minimally discussed by the said commission.
“In the last meeting of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, held in Paphos, Cyprus, last October, it was specifically established that the text would not be published until it had been fully and completely examined by the Commission.
“As yet there is no agreed document and, hence, the text published has no authority or official status.”
To his credit, Magister published this statement as a post-script update to his article. To date, however, he has not taken it off his site.
As long as the PCPCU’s statement that this is not an “agreed document” and hence “the text published has no authority or official status” is kept in mind, I see no danger in its publication. As I said, it is an excellent summary of the topic, factual (as far as I can tell) in all its details.
We on this blog of course pray for the success of the talks and that one day we will have an “agreed document” to share.