Thanks for your comments. You have largely confirmed my own reservations. A couple quick points...
You don't have to be Roman Catholic to believe that; it's pretty much tautological. How can the schism end if nobody on the Orthodox side has the authority to end it? (And by "nobody," I'm not necessarily talking about a single individual.)
Supposedly, y'all do have a "command structure" that can make "binding decisions" ... an ecumenical council. However, any attempt (by whom?) to call such a council to discuss reunion would no doubt split the Orthodox, and any reunion settlement arrived at would no doubt split you further.
Assuming the major issues were overcome and we reached a point where we could live with the other differences (it needs to be remembered that there were differences between east and west before the schism) I can see several ways the schism could be ended. The two most likely would be either a Great Council of the Church or a gradual restoration of communion by some of the Orthodox Churches (they would have to be major ones to be taken seriously). The Schism did not start in 1054 (contrary to common belief). It was a slow motion divorce that took place over centuries. The 1054 schism was a local one between two patriarchs that did not even extend to the faithful subject the other. Hence Latins still communed in Constantinople and had their churches there. And Greeks still communed in Rome. Most Eastern Patriarchs remained in communion with Rome until the sack of Constantinople by the Crusaders in 1204. If there was a real breaking point that was probably it. But even after that there were local synods that had communion with Rome off and on for another couple of centuries.
A Great Council has been in the planning for several decades and much speculation exists as to the reasons for its not being convened so far. As for who can call it, in the absence of and Orthodox Emperor or the Patriarch of Rome the Ecumenical Patriarch is almost universally acknowledged to have that power. All major decisions in Orthodoxy have caused minor schisms. There are just some people for whom the word "new" is the same thing as "heresy." But we will deal with that if and when we get there. We generally all agree on the important things even if sometimes throw furniture at each other when we discuss calendars. :-)
And proposing that Rome simply surrender is completely unrealistic, and also illogical. (Is the Pope going to infallibly define for the whole church that he has no authority to infallibly define anything, and no authority outside the See of Rome? If we simply adopt the Orthodox model of authority, nobody on our side has the authority to end the schism either! You can hardly expect the Pope to exercise Papal authority in declaring that no Papal authority exists.)
Yep. That's pretty much what I think I covered in my last post. I am less concerned with who can call a council than I am with getting to the point where the council will be able to do anything.
And we haven't yet considered whether such a settlement would cause a schism on the Catholic side of the aisle. (It likely would.)
Rome has had the same problem we have had. Everything you have done in Council has been challenged by splinter groups. The so called "Old Catholics" from Vatican I and the various uber Catholic Traditionalist schismatics you have running around since Vatican II are the evidence. I never knew +John XXXIII was really a Jew and a Free Mason secretly bent on destroying your church until I was enlightened by one of the "True Catholic" web sites. Lord Have Mercy!
Perhaps the first step is to agree that neither the absolutist Orthodox position (the local bishop is the fullness of the church, and nobody has authority over him) nor the absolutist Catholic position (the Pope exercises full and immediate jurisdiction over the whole church, and has authority over every bishop everywhere) are tenable models for a post-schism church.
That's probably a good suggestion. I have often said that we Orthodox have been very good at pointing out what Primacy is not. Possibly out of our often knee jerk hostility to all things papal. For primacy clearly does mean more than just the right to sit at the head of the table or be the first one in a procession. It was thus in the early Church. The problem is that your Church has backed itself into a corner with the decrees of Vatican I. Those decrees are so crystal clear in their wording that I don't see anyway to parse the language or pretend they mean something other than that the Pope of Rome holds an immediate and absolute jurisdiction over the ENTIRE CHURCH and every bishop is subject to him. Add onto that the decree regarding the infallibility of the Pope independent of the Church and a council and we have what I have already characterized as a showstopper. Hence my deep pessimism.
Lest I end this post on such a gloomy note, it should be mentioned that this month representatives from Rome will be meeting (in Serbia!) with high ranking representatives of many of the world's Orthodox Churches to discuss this very issue (the Primacy of Rome). And in recent months we have seen a marked warming of relations between the Moscow Patriarchate and Pope of Rome to the point where +Alexei was actually saying very nice things about +Benedict XVI. Who knows what may happen? All things are possible with God.
It may not be such a showstopper if we go on to define that those powers are only to be used in the most extraordinary and unusual circumstances. Obviously, the Pope doesn't at every moment exercise an immediate and absolute jurisdiction over every diocese. (There are days when it's not clear that he exercises any jurisdiction at all, even over some dioceses in his own Latin church. >:-0)
The pendulum, even in the Latin church, has swung since Vatican II toward the diocesan ordinary exercising a substantial degree of independence and authority in his own diocese. (That's still an experiment in progress.) Whatever Vatican I claimed for the Pope, it's clear that it's not being used on a daily basis, or anything like it.
If we can come to an consensus about when those powers might be exercised (other than "never, under any circumstances"), Vatican I might not be such a showstopper.