Con-forming, not uniformity

In its catholicity, the Orthodox Church is truly and profoundly â??ecumenical.â?? Nevertheless, this catholicity or ecumenicity is not â??universalâ?? â?? in the etymological sense of the word (from the Latin â??tending toward onenessâ??), in the literal sense of drawing all things to unilateral homogeneity. This, as we underlined yesterday to our brother Bishops during the Hierarchal Synaxis, is the crucial basis of and essential criterion for Paulâ??s passionate plea for Church unity â??in the same mind and purpose.â?? (1 Cor. 1.10) Nevertheless, at the same time, St. Paul prefers to emphasize â??conformityâ?? to the Body of Christ â?? â??until Christ is formed in youâ?? (Gal. 4.19) â?? rather than â??uniformityâ?? in accordance with certain ethical prescriptions. This is a unity that can only be realized in dialogue and collegiality, not in any universal imposition of opinion or doctrine.

Patriarch Bartholomew to the Pauline seminar