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Thursday, 22 May 2014

Bartholomew I Towards Jerusalem for Love and Dialogue - Terrasanta.net

Pope Francis and Bartolomew I
together in the Vatican
(photo: Ecumenical Patriarchate/
Nikolaos Manginas)
21 May 2014 (Milan/g.s.-k.c.)

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I is the one who has proposed a repetition of the historic January 5, 1964 embrace exchanged by Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras of Constantinople, spiritual leader of the world’s Greek Orthodox Christians. The gesture, which will take place in Jerusalem between himself and Pope Francis during the pontiff’s visit to the Holy Land May 24-26, commemorates the 50th anniversary of the historic meeting that ended 900 years of estrangement between the two Churches.

Bartholomew previously proposed the idea to Benedict XVI and then to Pope Francis shortly after his election as Bishop of Rome in March 2013. Bartholomew explains the meaning of the embrace with Francis in a short video on the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s website (and Youtube).

Referring to the meeting between Pope Montini and his predecessor, Bartholomew says: "The significance of that event can only be fully appreciated if placed against the background of an entire millennium of church separation and division, branded with theological estrangement and mutual mistrust between the two great church traditions of the eastern and western church."

“Of course the 1964 in Jerusalem was only the beginning of a very long journey, which the succeeding generations were called upon to continue. Looking back at the 50 years that ensued after the event, both churches can be grateful that a great deal has been achieved both in the dialogue of love, that is to say the general exchanges and communications between their leaders and representatives, and in the dialogue of truth, namely the official theological dialogues and discussions.”

“The spirit of fraternal love and mutual respect has replaced the old polemic and suspicion. Needless to say there is still a lot to be achieved and indeed the path seems to be long. However, we are all to follow this path in spite of all difficulties and drawbacks. As believers and followers of our lord Jesus Christ, who prayed that his disciples may be one – Ut unum sint! – we recognize that we have no other alternative.”

Bartholomew I will arrive in Jerusalem two days before the Pope, according to the official program announced by the Patriarchal Curia. On Friday May 23 Bartholomew will be officially welcomed at 6:30 pm by the head of the Greek-Orthodox Church of the Holy Land by Patriarch Theophilus III, at the Holy Sepulchre. Saturday May 24, at approximately 11 am, Bartholomew will travel to pray in Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity where Pope Francis is scheduled to visit the next day.

On Sunday morning, Bartholomew and Theophilus will celebrate the Divine Liturgy in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre at 7 am, where the Ecumenical Patriarch will return that evening, at 7 pm, for a celebration with the Pope. The ceremony includes the reading of two Gospel passages on the Resurrection (in Greek and in Latin). The reading of the Gospel will be followed by speeches and the embrace between Bartholomew and Francis. Then the two will recite the Our Father together in Italian.

On Monday the 26th Pope Francis will visit the residence of the Ecumenical Patriarch on the Mount of Olives — a return visit following that of Bartholomew I to the apostolic delegation planned for Sunday afternoon. For the rest of the day, the Archbishop of Constantinople will visit the Israel Museum and Yad Vashem, then meet with Israel’s Head of State Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. There will also be a lunch with the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas.

Bartholomew I, born Demetrios Archondonis in 1940, is almost the same age as Francis, who was born in 1936. In October 1991 he was elected 270th successor of the Apostle St. Andrew, to the See of Constantinople (click here for more biographical information).

The patriarch is a staunch ecumenical, as well as ecological, supporter. He has taken part in numerous meetings for dialogue with Muslim and Jewish leaders and seeks to promote mutual respect and religious tolerance on a global level.

Patriarch Bartholomew is fluent in classic and modern Greek, Turkish, Italian, German, French, English and Latin.

Read online: Terrasanta.net
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