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Friday, 23 May 2014

Cardinal Poupard recalls the "historic hug" of Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras

Historic Hug of Paul VI and Patriarch Remembered in Book 50 Years Later
Cardinal Poupard Says Francis' Repetition of Historic Moment in Holy Land Can Help Unify Church

By Deborah Castellano Lubov

VATICAN CITY, May 22, 2014 (Zenit.org) - "The world has opened our eyes to a totally unexpected event," has said a senior Vatican official and close collaborator to both Pope Paul VI and John XXIII. During a presentation Tuesday at the Vatican Radio headquarters in Vatican City of the book, "L'abbraccio di Gerusalemme" ("The 'Hug' of Jerusalem - Fifty years ago," the historic meeting between Pope Paul VI and Athenagoras), written by Valeria Martano and published by
Paulist Press, Cardinal Paul Poupard, president emeritus of the Pontifical Councils for Culture and for Interreligious Dialogue, stressed the decisive roles of Paul VI and John XXIII.

Through the meeting of Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew, respective successors to Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras, this weekend in the Holy Land, they commemorate the historic moment of the “hug” 50 years ago. Francis, Cardinal Poupard added, shows us “the need to leave Jerusalem where everything was started, by the Gospel, to return to the undivided Church."

The text written by Valeria Martano traces the historical turning point in the history of the Church, through the faces of the protagonists of the time and is looking forward to the next visit of Pope Francis in the Holy Land. “In my book, I try to draw the history, the path of this hug of the two people, and I think, from that moment, a greater hope was born in Christians,” she said.

The author told ZENIT that, “When Paul VI and Athenagoras met in 1964, it was a great event because it was the first the first time a Catholic Pope of Rome and an Orthodox patriarch of Constantinople met together on the level of equality and fraternity.” She added: “It was such a long time, centuries and centuries, in which there was division and hostility among Christians.” For this reason, “My personal hope, and I think the hope of all those Christians, Orthodox, and all those who are facing so much violence and persecutions of Christians, is that from the hug between Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew in Jerusalem, during the three day visit, will start a new spring for the Church.”

Antonio Ferrari, editor of the Italian publication La Corriere della Sera, and one of the speakers at the book presentation, told ZENIT, “It is an interesting book. Why? It’s not because it’s ideological,” but rather because “it’s just a story of the necessity to emphasize a symbol, the symbol of being brothers,
simply. Not to be enemies, but brothers separated with a need to approach each other again.” He added that when there are more or less a thousand years of schismatic break and little to no discussion between two sides, but two men have hope that the approach can be achieved.

He said he must stress “the role of John XXIII because he was the one who started the process with the Second Vatican Council.” John XXIII and the patriarch, in spite of their differences, he said, concentrated “all their moves were toward this objective, to try to find a way to be together.”

He added, “John XXIII passed away but his legacy was taken by Paul VI, and, in fact, this fantastic meeting between the two was the real turning point of the church of the dialogue, and the capacity to build a big bridge ... not just between Catholics, Orthodox and others, but between Christians,
Muslims, Jews in order to create, as Sant’Egidio has been emphasizing, a new culture of bridges. Let’s build bridges.” He added: “In a world that is globalized like this, he said, “if you don’t build bridges, you die. We don’t want to die.”

Though panelists agreed the historical situation is "very different” today, as noted Vaticanista Andrea Tornielli, vaticanista of La Stampa and website Inside the Vatican, he and the rest agreed Francis is helping to open doors and form friendships. “The fact that the Pope lives at Santa Marta,” Tornielli said, evidences Francis’ desire “to introduce and to welcome others,” by not only meeting visitors at Masses and official meetings, but also sharing “life in common."

“This availability,” he said, could be the seed from which a “profound friendship” is born.

Marco Impagliazzo, the president of the Community of Sant’Egidio in Rome, pointed out that “when the two heads of the Church met,” it was significant because it was simply “recognition” and a welcome, not an encounter that was especially planned or strategized. The “double recognition,” he said, referring to how both Catholics and Orthodox both understand the system of the other, is important, for “the greatness of those two men,” which opened dialogue and established friendships
between these religions, has been a great motive for this upcoming meeting.

Romano Cappelleto, introducer of the event, from the Paulist Press, told ZENIT that this book of Valeria Martano is “fundamental” because “in this trip, which Francis will make, he will repeat the historical hug with Patriarch Bartholomew.” He continued, “these gestures of Pope Francis truly can
open up these doors and dialogue."

Read online here:

ZENIT - the "historic hug" of Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras
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