Presented here are a few excerpts (and, Lord, forgive me, a couple of my comments):
“It’s difficult to understand if you’re not from here,” the archbishop says, pointing to the nearby tower of the ruined Augustinian abbey, where Mass was first said in the fourteenth century. “We are here in Greece, we feel Greek, are Greek, but among other Greeks there is this strong identification of Greek and Orthodox. As a result, when I take part in official ceremonies, they say ‘He’s not a bishop! He is not Orthodox.’”I have experienced this on many occasions in the US. For example, recently my wife and I met an OCA priest and his wife. We chatted briefly and went our separate ways. Later, Khourieh noted that the priest held out his hand in the manner traditional to receive a reverential kiss. She obliged as this is a custom she routinely practices with clergy (except yours truly....). She asked me if Matushka had kissed mine. No; I hadn't thought about it at the time, but she had not. Then, looking back on the conversation, I realized there had been a slight familiarity. Also, when I had approached Batushka for the embrace of peace he had stuck out his hand for a handshake. Clearly, to them I was not a priest and we were to show respect to them with no reciprocation. C'est la vie! It's a small thing, but indicative of how we "Uniates" are often treated by our separated brethren.
As the Athens-based journalist Helena Smith wrote some years ago, many Greeks “still relate to the notorious declaration of the Byzantine commander Loukas Notaras (uttered days before the sacking of Constantinople in 1453) that it would be better to see the Turkish turban in the city than a cardinal’s mitre”. That mood, stiffened by the religious dimension to the Balkan wars of the 1990s, has hardly softened at all. Smith told me: “This is still a country that is very ethnocentric, where minorities are seen as a threat to the state and where to be 100 per cent Greek you must be Orthodox.”This is endemic to Orthodoxy. While there is much talk about the Unity of the Faith, there is a tendency for many to see their jurisdiction, and the ethnicity that grounds it, as the superior others within Orthodoxy and even more so regarding Catholics in general, and Eastern Catholic in particular.
Back in his office, the archbishop concurred. “We have got to become really Catholic, meaning universal,” he said. “We were never really considered true Greeks anyway. Now we have to be brothers to all those coming from outside. It is the future of the Church - no Greek, no Jew, but all one in Christ. That could be something to be proud of.”This is precisely why I crossed the Tiber. There is a fullness of Catholic Faith within the Catholic Church. By this, I mean that "the Faith of the Orthodox" (as the Synodikon of Nicaea II refers to it) only attainable in union with Rome. My faith, worship, and discipline are the same as when I was an Orthodox priest, but the fullness of that Faith is more profoundly present through communion with the Pope of Rome. This may scandalize Orthodox, and in fact probably lies much behind the manifest desire of Orthodox for Eastern Catholics to cease to exist.
May our Lord bring unity to His Church and unite all Catholic and Orthodox Christians with peace, health, safety and length of days. May our Lady the Theotokos through her intercessions convict the hearts of all of us in the Churches of God whose hardness prevents that unity for which our Lord prayed. May the confidence of hope remove all prejudice, the fruits of love melt all animosity, and the Faith that saves bless us all with eternal life to the glory of God the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and always and unto ages of ages. Amen.