The year 2025 will mark 1700 years since the First Ecumenical Council. To honour this occasion, there is a plan for leaders of numerous Christian bodies to meet in the city of Iznik, which is where the Greek city of Nicaea once stood. This new council is widely speculated to be the event where the Roman Catholic Church enters into formal union with some of the autonomous Orthodox churches, as well as possibly the Oriental, Assyrian, and possibly some Protestant churches (although any formal union with protestant bodies is less likely). I see this pseudo-council and possible union as the fulfillment of “ecumenism of the left”. I wrote about the differences between left and right ecumenism before, but in brief ecumenism of the left is ecumenism whereby shared progressive or modernist values form basis for union. These reasons are of course more political in nature than theological, but the modernist is able to contrive theological reasons to justify modern innovations. The difficulty I have with discussing Nicaea 2025 is that on one hand, it is my duty to presume the best intentions and orthodoxy of the hierarchs of the Orthodox participants. However, on the other, I am keenly aware of the many modernists streams that exist in Orthodox academia, as well as the modernist inclinations of some priests, bishops, and patriarchs. Furthermore, many Western (i.e. American) aligned churches have been or continue to be used by secular forces against the interests of the Church as a whole and individual Christians in particular. I see Nicaea 2025 as largely a political council designed to achieve political goals. This is in stark contrast to Nicaea 325, which was held to correct the errors of Arian Christology. I find Nicaea 2025 to be diabolical because the ecumenism it presupposes is based upon a lie, that being that union can be unilaterally imposed.
My speculation is that the culmination of Nicaea 2025 will see a “unilateral declaration of union”. This means that the Roman Catholic Church will formally and unilaterally recognize a union between local Orthodox, Oriental, and Assyrian churches, without demanding reciprocal recognition from those local churches. This would seemingly follow from recent developments in Catholic theology where the sacraments of Eastern Churches are recolonized as being valid and in the permitting of Catholics to partake in Eastern sacraments under particular circumstances and conditions. The Catholic Church also permits Orthodox Christians to partake in Catholic sacraments so long as particular conditions are met. I cannot speak for the Oriental or Assyrian churches, but for an Orthodox Christian to partake in Catholic sacraments would be considered an act of apostasy, one which would necessitate excommunication until the convicted party confessed and possibly re-chrismated. I believe this is even the view and practice of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, but if I am incorrect it is still the predominant Orthodox view and custom. So, it would seem natural that with the existence of a unilateral communion between Rome and Orthodoxy, a unilateral union could also be declared.
Of course, such union does little to actually unite theologically Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. The argument theologians will make is that ecumenical dialogue made outside of union has achieved little. Catholicism and Orthodoxy, as separate communions, are entrenched in their beliefs, and thus all ecumenical dialogue eventually ends in an impasse. However, within Catholicism and Orthodoxy there exists a diverse set of beliefs, customs, and traditions, some of which seemingly contradict each other yet within a united body are able to coexist. Again, this is the view of the modernists. Thus, if Catholicism and Orthodoxy were to enter into union, then the theological tensions between Rome and the East could likewise be harmonized or permitted to coexist within a single “Church” without requiring any local churches to modify their beliefs or practices. Once united, then real ecumenism can begin, the ecumenism from within. In the end for the ecumenist, it is union, not theology, that matters, as ultimately theology can only ever be an impediment to union. This is because in dealing with other Christians, concern for theology necessitates that one Christian body is fundamentally in error and needs to be corrected through conversion. If we believe that Christ established a singular Church and has entrusted His apostles and their successors to its care under the protection of the Holy Spirit, then any “union” necessitates the union of error with Truth. This for all Christians should be intolerable unless we either no longer care about Truth, or believe that somehow two distinct ecclesial bodies with differing theologies, which have waged wars and atrocities against the other, have seemingly always equally kept the same “truth”.
Union and ecumenism necessitate the subservience and ultimately the destruction of one church in favour of the other. That is what is at stake and how ecumenical dialogues should be considered. At the end of the day, ecclesiology is not a major concern for me. Catholic commentators like to argue that the biggest obstacle for union between the Orthodox and Rome is the papacy. But to me, the modern papacy is hardly a consideration. I do not see the pope as a tyrannical autocrat. In the medieval era he may have been, but in the current era the papacies of John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and Francis has been at best benign, and at worst a joke. Now, I care about the Catholic theology which justifies the existence of the papacy in its post-schism form, but even this is a secondary issue because the expansion of papal powers came about as a justification from Rome leaving communion with the Orthodox Church. If there was theological agreement between Rome and Orthodoxy on the issues of the Filioque, the Energies-Essence distinction, and the Monarchy of the Father, then the papacy would fall away as it could no longer be justified theologically. Essentially, the issue which separates Orthodoxy and Rome is Trinitarian theology. Orthodoxy is separated from the Oriental and Assyrian churches because of differing Christologies, but ultimately, all theological errors have as their basis a failure to properly understand Christ or the Trinity. There can never be union between Rome and Orthodoxy so long as our views on the Trinity differ, and this is also why even today you see the Uniate or so called “Eastern Catholic Churches” Latinize or become Catholic in their praxis. These Uniate churches appear Orthodox but their spirit is Catholic, which for Rome is a good thing, but it fundamentally denies the praxis and intention of their eastern forms and practices. In Uniate churches, and least in my experience, there is a disconnect between the spirituality being espoused and how the faith of the individual Christian is lived. Practice informs belief and the two cannot be separated, which is why the Uniate churches must Latinize to one degree or another so that they may be able to live the Roman Catholic faith. Again, the papacy is not the central concern, and union to him only matters to the degree that in union to him we are united to the faith which he heads.
Now it is not my intention to make this article an anti-Catholic screed. I am sure many traditional Catholics can argue that a union between Catholicism and Orthodoxy would be a disaster for Rome as it would easternize and import conciliarism into the Church. Ultimately, any ecumenical dialogue or possible union that does not have right-belief and conversion as its ultimate goal is false and harmful to both parties. For there to be a union between the Orthodox East and Catholic West, the Orthodox or the Catholic faith must perish. Particular customs and practices can be retained, just as certain non-anti-Christian pagan customs and practices could be brought into the Church through enculturation. But one cannot be both “Orthodox” and Catholic, or Orthodox “in union with Rome”. Thus, ecumenism is a matter of great seriousness and should be treated as such. Ecumenism is a field of spiritual battle against opponents, not peers or friends. By obscuring the true nature and intention of ecumenism, those who no longer wish to preserve the birthright given to them sell it for political expediency. This ultimately is the greatest sin of the ecumenical movement for those of all Christian communions who participate in it.
My books are available here: https://www.amazon.com/s?i=stripbooks&rh=p_27%3AElwin+Ransom&s=relevancerank&text=Elwin+Ransom&ref=dp_byline_sr_book_1
If you are able to donate I would welcome your support on Patreon or via the crypto wallets below: https://www.patreon.com/godkingandnation