Blogging Ecumenically: Introductory Period

This post is part of an ongoing series reflecting on Orthodox-Catholic online dialogue, originally delivered at the “That They May Be One” Conference.

dialogueOrthodox-Catholic dialogue on Conciliar Post typically begins with a short introductory period. During this time, new writers introduce themselves to the site, get to know their fellow writers, and (occasionally) produce “foundational articles,” explanations of where they come from and how they hope to contribute to Conciliar Post’s dialogue. Additionally, this early period of interaction often includes a basic recognition of similarities and differences among writers, which often comes in the form of short, basic affirmations of a post or, conversely, an attempt to charitably question another’s position or meaning. An excellent example of how new Catholic and Orthodox writers work through this introductory period comes in the writing of a Roman Catholic whom I have named Frigus (note: names here and throughout the rest of this presentation are pseudonymous).

Frigus launched his writing at Conciliar Post with a series of foundation pieces, outlining his basic theological presuppositions and approach to dialogue, and tracing his understanding of “Grace and Catholicism” in a series intended to alleviate Protestant misunderstandings of the Catholic doctrine of grace. Shortly after, Frigus also recounted his journey of faith and conversion to Catholicism. During this phase, Frigus’s general interaction with other Conciliar Post writers was primarily anticipatory and clarifying. That is, Frigus took an approach of clarifying and expounding what he said rather than blunt disagreement with other voices, including Orthodox perspectives. While all of the Orthodox and Catholic writers on Conciliar Post are unique and have their own approaches to online dialogue, writers often undergo this kind of introductory period during their first months of interaction on the site.

Icon of Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras I

Icon of Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras I

After this acclimating period wears off, writers of all backgrounds begin to interact with one another on a more dialogical level. At this stage, Orthodox-Catholic exchanges fall into three basic categories: Cooperation, Reinforcement, and Coordination. I will now outline and share examples from each of these approaches, arguing that that a perspective of coordinated dialogue presents itself as the best option for future Orthodox-Catholic dialogue and unity.

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