From Wei-Hsein Wan of Torn Notebook, chock full of brilliant quotes from great lights of the Church, both Eastern and Western, ancient and contemporary:
For as, in the case of one and the same quantity of water, there is separated from it, not only the residue which is left behind by the hand when drawing it, but also those drops, once contained in the hand, which trickle out through the fingers; so also there is a separation between us and, not only those who hold aloof in their impiety, but also those who are most pious, and that both in regard to dogmas of small importance (peri dogmaton mikron), which can be disregarded (parorasthai axion), and also in regard to expressions intended to bear the same meaning. – Saint Gregory the Theologian
If we apply to our present situation what St. Gregory and St. Basil have said about their own age, we will see that they were in fact much more “liberal” than the most advanced “ecumenists” of today. Neither Gregory nor Basil regarded the disagreement on the question of the divinity of the Holy Spirit as an obstacle for reconciliation among the Churches; nor did they claim that those who did not confess the Spirit as God were outside the Church. Moreover, it was a common practice in the fourth century—indeed, approved by St. Basil—to accept Arians into the Church through repentance, not requiring baptism or chrismation. In our own times some Orthodox say that Roman Catholics, being “heretics”, are outside the Church, and should be rebaptised when received into Orthodoxy. Yet neither Catholics nor Protestants would deny the divinity of the Son of God, as did the Arians, not would they deny the divinity of the Holy Spirit, as did most fourth-century theologians and bishops. And surely the question of the procession of the Holy Spirit is less significant than the question of his divinity. To regard today’s Catholics and Protestants as “pseudo-churches” is totally alien to the spirit of the ancient Church Fathers such as Basil the Great and Gregory the Theologian. Their understanding of the divisions among the Churches was much more dynamic and multi-dimensional, and much less rigid. Many divisions between the Churches could be healed if contemporary theologians used the methodology advanced by St. Gregory. – Bishop Hilarion (Alfeyev) of Vienna
…[W]e must learn that unity, for its part, is a Christian truth, an essentially Christian concept, of so high a rank that it can be sacrificed only to safeguard what is most fundamental, not where the way to it is obstructed by formulations and practices that, however important they be, do not destroy community in the faith of the Fathers and in the basic form of the Church as they saw her. – Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
… Insofar as the unity to which Christians are called is a unity bound by love, our will to unity must also be a will to include rather than exclude. What I mean is that we Christians must attempt to live, speak and think in ways that enfold as many people as possible into the fellowship of the Church. This is true first of all with respect to Christians who find themselves disagreeing with one another on points of doctrine. They ought to struggle to count each other as being within the Church rather than outside her.
As I said in the first post of this series, there is today a theological maximalism in the Church that is driven by the need to exclude—to separate true believers from errant heretics. Don’t get me wrong: there are of course times when Christians have to draw boundaries between truth and falsehood, between orthodoxy and heresy. But the will to exclude cannot be our first instinct or response. In fact, even when we are forced to draw the lines, we must do so only with deep regret and sadness. God’s will for the Church, after all, is that she gather into her fold men and women “from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues” (Revelation 7.9) so that Christ might be “all in all” (1 Corinthians 15.28; Ephesians 1.23). By her constitution, she tends toward inclusion. As followers of Jesus, we ought to always lean toward reaching out, toward reconciliation, toward embrace. In this way, we will be more like our Master who once defied established norms by talking to a Samaritan woman and eating with people on the margins of religious correctness. – Wan-Hsien Wan (emphasis added)
P.S. May I recommend that you vote for Torn Notebook at the Eastern Christian Blog Awards, nominated in the categories of Best Theology Blog and Best Individual Blog?