Roman Catholic and Orthodox theologians reported promising progress Friday in talks on overcoming their Great Schism of 1054 and bringing the two largest denominations in Christianity back to full communion.
Experts meeting in Vienna this week agreed the two could eventually become "sister churches" that recognize the Roman pope as their titular head but retain many church structures, liturgy and customs that developed over the past millennium.I know the press never understands what they are saying. But this story says a lot. For the Orthodox to recognize the pope would be huge. The idea that they are talking about doing it at some point in the future is quite remarkable. It is not a matter of an organizational arrangement. It is a matter of doctrine. To talk about someday accepting a doctrine means you are no longer asserting said doctrine is false. If you think it is false you won't discuss ever confessing it. Those kinds of barriers tend to be permanent. The barriers that are just a matter of personality and style can be overcome with charity.
To heal such a major schism would be huge. It is difficult to overstate how huge. In terms of enriching the church I can see it having a big impact. Eastern Christianity has a bit of a different flavor than the Latin Rite does. We would have much more diversity.
It would also remove the Orthodox as a counter-example to the notion that to be traditional is to accept the pope. That might take a lot longer. What might happen is one Orthodox church, likely the Russian Orthodox, would come to an arrangement. That might lead the others into communion with Rome. But this process would take decades rather than years. Still any kind of admission that the papacy is an essential element of Christianity would help.