Recently, I was involved in an interesting private discussion about the way that the Catholic Church has historically handled the individual conversions of Orthodox Christians to her communion.
One of the participants in the discussion maintained that, since the Second Vatican Council, the Catholic Church generally frowns on such individual conversions, that she would rather Orthodox Christians remain within their own communion (since, after all, unlike Protestant bodies, the local Orthodox Churches are indeed “true particular Churches” in Rome’s eyes), and that the Orthodox Churches should be dealt with corporately. There may be instances in which individual conversion is warranted (that is, the Church would never turn away those who feel that they must convert as a matter of conscience), but generally speaking, individual conversions do not figure into Rome’s ecumenical programme with Orthodoxy, and in fact, they could be seen as directly counter to it – that is, as actually thwarting the true quest for corporate unity.
My question: Is this an accurate representation of the current Catholic* approach to Orthodoxy; and if so, where would one be able to find this approach expressed officially?
* Roman Catholic and Eastern Catholic; or, to make things a bit more complex, are there different approaches here?
Update – I should have mentioned my awareness of the clauses in the Balamand Declaration (1993), dealing with proselytism:
5. While the inviolable freedom of persons and their obligation to follow the requirements of their conscience remain secure, in the search for re-establishing unit there is no question of conversion of people from one Church to the other in order to ensure their salvation. There is a question of achieving together the will of Christ for his own and the design of God for his Church by means of a common quest by the Churches for a full accord on the content of the faith and its implications …
But I am also aware that this statement, like all such joint ecumenical statements, does not officially bind either side to its recommendations. And the Balamand Declaration has its fair share of fierce critics, from conservative and traditionalists on both sides of the schism.
What I am looking for is some public teaching from the Roman magisterium to the effect that individual conversions of Eastern Orthodox Christians are not in line with the Roman Church’s current policy concerning union with the Orthodox Churches.