Pope Tells Orthodox: Incomplete Communion That Already Unites Us Must Grow
Pope Benedict is the Pope of Christian Unity.
There is a growing collaboration between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches in efforts to slow the collapse of Christian influence in European culture. There have been other signs of the Spirit at work in pulling these Churches to a along the path toward reestablishing communion.
VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) - On June 28, 2011 a delegation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople made their traditional visit to Rome for the Feast of Apostles, Peter and Paul. As the West staggers under what Pope Benedict XVI called a Dictatorship of Relativism, it is the fullness of truth revealed in Jesus Christ as found within His Church which can save it from rushing over a cliff to its own demise. The world needs the Church, breathing with both lungs, East and West, to once again become its soul in this age which has lost its moral compass.
Pope Benedict is the "Pope of Christian Unity". In his first Papal message he proclaimed, "Nourished and sustained by the Eucharist, Catholics cannot but feel encouraged to strive for the full unity for which Christ expressed so ardent a hope in the Upper Room. The Successor of Peter knows that he must make himself especially responsible for his Divine Master's supreme aspiration. Indeed, he is entrusted with the task of strengthening his brethren (cf. Lk 22: 32). With full awareness, therefore, at the beginning of his ministry in the Church of Rome which Peter bathed in his blood, Peter's current Successor takes on as his primary task the duty to work tirelessly to rebuild the full and visible unity of all Christ's followers. This is his ambition, his impelling duty."
He has placed the commitment to the full communion of the Church at the forefront of his Papacy. This is especially evident in his love, respect and repeated overtures toward our Orthodox brethren, whom we recognize as a full Church and whose priesthood and Sacraments we also recognize. There is a growing collaboration between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches in efforts to slow the collapse of Christian influence in European culture. There have been other signs of the Spirit at work in pulling these Churches to a along the path toward reestablishing communion.
We present the full text of his message to the Orthodox delegation below.
Dear Brothers in Christ,
You are welcome in Rome on the occasion of the Feast of the Patrons of this Church, the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul. It is particularly gratifying to me to greet you with the words that Saint Paul addressed to Christians of this city: "The God of peace be with you all" (Romans 15:32). I thank from my heart the Venerable Brother, the Ecumenical Patriarch, His Holiness Bartholomew I and the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate who wished to send you, dear Brothers, as their representatives to participate here with us in this solemn celebration.
The Lord Jesus Christ, having appeared to his disciples after his Resurrection, gave them the mission to be witnesses of the Gospel of Salvation. The Apostles carried out this mission faithfully, on attesting their faith in Christ the Savior and their love of God the Father even to the bloody sacrifice of their life. In this city of Rome, the Apostles Peter and Paul faced martyrdom, and since then their tombs have been the object of veneration.
Your participation in our Feast, like the presence of our representatives in Constantinople for the Feast of the Apostle Andrew, manifests the friendship and genuine fraternity that unites the Church of Rome and the Ecumenical Patriarchate, bonds solidly founded in the faith received through the testimony of the Apostles. The intimate spiritual closeness that we experience each time that we meet is for me a motive of great joy and gratitude to God. At the same time, however, the incomplete communion that already unites us must grow until it attains full visible unity.
We follow with great attention the work of the Mixed Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church as a whole. From a purely human point of view, one might have the impression that the theological dialogue is having trouble in progressing. In reality, the rhythm of dialogue is linked to the complexity of the themes being discussed, which call for an extraordinary effort of study, of reflection and of reciprocal openness.
We are called to continue this course together in charity, invoking light and inspiration from the Holy Spirit, in the certainty that He wishes to lead us to the full accomplishment of the will of Christ: that they may all be one (John 17:21). I am particularly grateful to all the members of the Mixed Commission and in particular to the co-Presidents, His Eminence the Metropolitan of Pergamum Ioannis and His Eminence Cardinal Kurt Koch, for their tireless dedication, their patience and their competence.
In a historical context of violence, of indifference and of egoism, many men and women of our time feel lost. It is precisely by the common testimony of the truth of the Gospel that we can help people of our time to rediscover the way that leads them to truth. The search for truth, in fact, is always also the search for justice and peace, and it is with great joy that I witness the important involvement with which His Holiness Bartholomew spends himself on these subjects.
Uniting myself to this intention which is common to us, and recalling the beautiful example of my predecessor, Blessed John Paul II, I wish to invite Christian brothers, representatives of other religious traditions of the world and personalities of the world of culture and science, to participate next October 27 in the city of Assisi, in a Day of Reflection, of Dialogue and of Prayer for Peace and Justice in the World, whose theme will be: "Pilgrims in Truth, Pilgrims in Peace." Walking together along the streets of St. Francis' city will be a sign of the will to continue to advance on the path of dialogue and fraternity.
Eminence, dear members of the Delegation, thanking you again for your presence in Rome on this solemn occasion, I ask you to transmit my fraternal greeting to my venerable Brother, Patriarch Bartholomew I, to the Holy Synod, to the clergy and to all the faithful of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, assuring them of my affection and of the solidarity of the Church of Rome, which today is celebrating its Holy Founders.
© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women: That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lordís invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.
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