But a spokesman for the Russian Orthodox Church expressed hope that the process of finding a common date would follow the tradition set by the Council of Nicaea in the Fourth Century, which established the feast at a time when the Church was united.
According to AsiaNews, Father Nikolai Balashov, deputy chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate Department of External Church Relations, acknowledged that the Pope "wanted to make a real step forward towards the Orthodox. It is a gesture of good will."
He was hesitant to comment on the Pope’s proposal, as media reports did not include enough details on the specifics, he said, but he cautioned against any "radical change of our common traditions from the first millennium of Christianity."
"If the Church of Rome intends to abandon Easter according to the Gregorian calendar, introduced in the 16th century, and go back to the old one (Julian), used at a time when the Church of the East and West were united and used to date by the Orthodox, then this intention is welcome," he said. If, instead, the idea is to "have a fixed date for Easter and not tie it to the first full moon after the spring equinox, as established in the East and in the West by the Council of Nicaea in 325, then this proposal is totally unacceptable to the Orthodox Church.”
The Russian priest noted that the Patriarchate of Moscow is at odds over Easter also with the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. He said that a pan-Orthodox council to be held next year is expected to debate a review of the date on which to celebrate Easter.