Saturday, May 14, 2011

Book Review: Orthodoxy and the Roman Papacy by Adam Deville

I am very excited for Dr. Adam A. J. DeVille, his new book, Orthodoxy and the Roman Papacy has just been released by the University of Notre Dame Press. Orthodoxy and the Roman Papacy is the result of his tedious and detailed research in the important 1995 Papal Encyclical Ut Unum Sint, a document which discusses Christian unity. DeVille, an Eastern Catholic (also known as Byznatine Catholic or Greek Catholic) looks at Ut Unum Sint through the lens of Orthodox and Catholic dialogue for greater unity.

First of all I love the cover. It's bold yellow background with Pope Benedict XVI and Bartholomew in the foreground is very attractive and through images shows what unity is all about, the East and West coming together. Unfortunately, like most families, the Church has a long history of divisions, arguments, and ad hominem attacks. Ecumenical relations have been off and on and then off again. Hopefully with a renewed interest in dialogue, and with the publication of this new book, both East and West will begin talking again, at least I hope so.

DeVille is hopeful. Without giving too much of the book away I do want to mention a few hallmarks of his work. DeVille looks at commentaries from major theologians from both Eastern Orthodox as well as Roman Catholic (and Eastern Catholic) sources. He then attempts to shed light on how the Papacy could be transformed to include greater conciliarity and sobornost among the Eastern Patriarchates and Rome.

DeVille's clear prose, combined with his copious footnotes reveals that he has done his homework. As a reader not very familiar with Ut Unum Sint it would have been helpful perhaps to include either an outline or the entire document at the back of the book as a handy resource. Additionally, I would have liked to see more discussion of the basic structure and themes of Ut Unum Sint in the first chapter. However, those two minor comments do not take away from this book. If you are remotely interested in ecumenism or you are a theological student interested in the Eastern Catholic or Orthodox traditions I HIGHLY RECOMMEND that you read Orthodoxy and the Roman Papacy. With greater interest in ecumenism in general, and in Catholic and Orthodox dialogue in particular, I can see this book having a long shelf life. I commend DeVille for his hard work and certainly we look forward to seeing more books from him in the near future.