I REPRINT A PIECE FROM 15 OCTOBER 2015, in view of its relevance to the questions of the relationship, at the deepest theological levels, between the Catholic Church and the Particular 'Orthodox' (or 'Separated Byzantine') Churches.
FIRST ... the GREEK CHURCHES:
Parts of an article in the December 1959 number of the old Anglo-Papalist journal Reunion:
" ... the conclusions of a Greek book of 697 pages entitled Relations between Catholics and Orthodox by a Greek Catholic priest P. Grigoriou, editor of the Athenian weekly Katholiki. The author takes us back to the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
"Archbishop Anthony C. Vuccino, A.A., former Latin Bishop of Corfu, reviewed this book in La Croix. Its pages show the good relations existing in those centuries, under the Venetian and Turkish rulers, between Catholics and Orthodox in the Near and Middle East, and particularly in Greece. With the approval of the Patriarch of Constantinople and the permissuion of their own hierarchies, Catholic missionaries preached and administered frequently in Orthodox Churches. The Archbishop draws attention to such incidents as the authorisation by the Patriarch Neophyte (1611) of the absolution of his faithful by Jesuits or Capuchins and that Orthodox deacons assisted at Mass sung by P. Goar, O.P., and received communion from him. Often the Latin bishop and his clergy preached or said Mass in the Orthodox churches of Chios.
" These events are established by contemporary documents culled by the author from all the islands and mainland. Missions were preached to mixed comgregations; there were 'mixed churches' serving both rites with Latin and Oriental altars ...
"P. Grigoriou further narrates that as the procession of Corpus Christi passed by, one Orthodox bishop would offer incense from the window of his house; in Zante the platform bearing the Blessed Sacrament on Good Friday was carried by a Latin and an Orthodox bishop ... in the seventeenth century, schools were built by local Orthodox congregations where Latin priests could teach the children of the Orthodox.
"Concelebrations are also reported by the author. In 1653 Joannice, the Patriarch of Constantinople, wrote to his Metropolitans of Trebizond and New Caesarea, authorising Fr Robert, O.C., to offer Mass in their churches. Whenever Orthodox priests concelebrated with Latin clergy, the former made the Memento of the Pope. Again, concelebration by the Orthodox Archpriest and Latin priests at the same altar in the Catholic Cathedral occurred in Corfu on the 19th January, the patronal feast of St Spyridion. ... Fr Gill, S.J., comments on this indiscriminate intermingling: 'The story is almost monotonous because it was the same everywehere; nevertheless, it is astonishing'. This intercommunion was practised on a large scale, even to the inclusion of the reception of Sacred Orders.
"We might ask why this cooperation ended. Assuredly, P.Grigoriou tells us that Pius IX made efforts to re-establish these contacts ... Archbishop Vuccino affirms: 'The centre of Catholicism exercised general tolerance in regard to such practices, doubtless with the aim of making up for the deficiencies of the Orthodox clergy, and of creating a more brotherly atmosphere among Christians who breathed the same air and who were already united by so much.'"
Sometimes, some 'Traditionalists' speak as if all 'Ecumenism' is an aberration to be blamed on Vatican II and roundly condemned. I think is is right to keep reminding ourselves that the sort of approach embodied in the Church's current legislation is broadly in line with immemorial praxis in the Catholic Church.
THE FOLLOWING SECTION relates to the Russian Church: Readers of this blog will not need to be reminded of the toleration accorded by S Pius X with his own hand to the request of Metropolitan Andrew Szeptycki that "he be granted a faculty, communicable also to confessors, for dispensing the secular faithful from the law by which communicatio in sacris with Orthodox is prohibited, as often as they shall judge it in conscience to be opportune" (Rome, 17:2:1908).
It is also well to remember the neat point made by Benedict XIV, that all sacramental communicatio cannot be totally excluded on principle because every 'mixed marriage' is a Sacrament of which one Catholic and one non-Catholic are the ministers.
Reunion offers these references: Catholic Herald, 13 February 1959; Unitas, Summer 1959; Eastern Churches Quarterly, Winter 1958-59; Irenikon, XXXII, 3, 1959.