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Document Details :
Title: Uniatism and its origins
Author(s): PERI, V.
Journal: Journal of Eastern Christian Studies
Volume: 49 Issue: 1-2 Date: 1997
Uniatism and its origins
The author of this article deals with the problem of ‘uniatism’ in a very broad sense: the origins and the use of this term are discussed, as well as uniatism as a historical phenomenon. In the past ‘uniatism’ was used by the Roman Catholic Church as a method for reuniting the Eastern Churches. The Orthodox Churches saw it, therefore, as a threat and a handicap in the ecumenical relationship. However, some Orthodox Churches have also tried to ‘bring back’ the Eastern Catholic Communities to their ‘Mother Church’. All this is the result of “opposite and exclusive ecclesiologies” which contradict the counciliar ecclesiology of the Ancient Church. In our century the attitudes have evolved: the Eastern Communities within the Roman Church are no longer considered as mere ‘rites’, but they received a new canonical statue. On the other hand, the Orthodox Churches had to recognize the existence of the Eastern Churches united to Rome. In 1987, Pope John Paul II and the ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Dimitrios I, condemned ‘proselytism’ in a common declaration. In 1993, the International Commission for Dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches issued a joint document in Balamand (Lebanon), in which it repeated this condemnation. Although its use of the term ‘uniatism’ may be confusing, the agreement in itself is an important step forward to solving the problem of the division of the Churches. In order to reach full communion, they have to rediscover the traditional ecclesiology and to regard each other as ‘Sister Churches’.