In a long interview on the state of the Roman Catholic Church in general, Pope Benedict XVI (former Cardinal Ratzinger of the CDF) took a few moments to explain his view on ecumenical work with the Orthodox. It was so interesting we here at NFTU have decided to put up his comments on the matter. Italics added for emphasis.
Precisely in relations with the Orthodox I see that personal relationships are fundamental. In doctrine, we are largely united on all the fundamental matters, but it is in doctrine that it seems very difficult to make any headway. But drawing close to one another in communion, in our common experience of the life of faith, is the way to recognize one another as children of God and disciples of Christ.
And this is my experience of at least 40 or almost 50 years. This is an experience of common discipleship, that we actually live in the same faith, in the same Apostolic Succession, with the same sacraments and therefore also with the great tradition of prayer; this diversity and multiplicity of religious cultures, of the culture of faith, is beautiful.
To have this experience is fundamental, and it perhaps seems to me that the convinced opposition to ecumenism of some, of a part of the monks of Mount Athos, stems also from the lack of a visible, tangible experience that the other also belongs to the same Christ, to the same communion with Christ in the Eucharist.
So this is very important: We must tolerate the separation that exists. St. Paul says that divisions are necessary for a certain time and that the Lord knows why: to test us, to train us, to develop us, to make us more humble. But at the same time, we are obliged to move toward unity, and moving toward unity is already a form of unity.