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Sunday, 29 June 2014

“Together towards unity despite our differing starting points,” Francis tells Orthodox - Vatican Insider

June 28, 2014, Domenico Agasso jr,  Rome - Vatican Insider

Yet another display of Francis’ tour de force. At today’s audience with the Delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the Vatican, the Pope called the embrace between Athenagoras and Paul VI in Jerusalem 50 years ago, a “prophetic gesture”
The Delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople paid their traditional visit to Rome to mark the Solemnity of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul.The Delegation, which was sent by Bartholomew I, was led by the Metropolitan of Pergamo, Ioannis (Zizioulas) who is also co-president of the International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches; he was accompanied by the Archbishop of Telmissos Job and Patriarchal Archdeacon John Chryssavgis.

The embrace between Athenagoras and Paul VI 50 years ago in Jerusalem was a “prophetic gesture” which “gave decisive impulse to a journey which, thank God, has never ceased,” Francis said in his address to the Patriarchal Delegation. In his greeting to the Ecumenical Patriarch, Francis said: “I have vivid and moving memories of my recent meetings with my beloved brother Bartholomaios.” “During our common pilgrimage to the Land of Jesus, we were able to relive the gift of that embrace between our venerable predecessors, Athenagoras I and Paul VI, which took place fifty years ago in the holy city of Jerusalem. I consider it a special gift from the Lord that we were able to venerate the holy places together and to pray at each other’s side at the place of Christ’s burial, where we can actually touch the foundation of our hope,” Francis went on to say. 

“The joy of that meeting was then renewed when, in a certain sense, we concluded our pilgrimage here at the tomb of the Apostle Peter as we joined in fervent prayer, together with the Presidents of Israel and Palestine, for the gift of peace in the Holy Land,” Francis continued. “The Lord granted us these occasions of fraternal encounter, in which we were able to express the love uniting us in Christ, and to renew our mutual desire to walk together along the path to full unity.” 

The Pope expressed the hope that the Catholic and Orthodox Churches would “look at one another with the eyes of faith and to see ourselves as we truly are in God’s plan, according to the designs of his eternal will, and not what we have become as a result of the historical consequences of our sins.” “The Lord granted us these occasions of fraternal encounter,” Francis added, “to renew our mutual desire to walk together along the path to full unity.” “If all of us can learn, prompted by the Spirit, to look at one another in God,” he continued, “our path will be even straighter and our cooperation all the more easy in the many areas of daily life which already happily unite us.” 

This way of “looking at one another in God” is nourished by faith, hope and love; it gives rise to an authentic theological reflection which is truly scientia Dei, a participation in that vision which God has of himself and of us. It is a reflection which can only bring us closer to one another on the path of unity, despite our differing starting points.” “I hope and I pray, then,” Francis said, “that the work of the Joint International Commission can be a sign of this profound understanding, this theology “on its knees”.” 

According to Francis, “the Commission’s reflections on the concepts of primacy and synodality, communion in the universal Church and the ministry of the Bishop of Rome will not be an academic exercise or a mere debate about irreconcilable positions.” “It is a journey upheld by the martyrdom of so many of our brothers and sisters who, by their witness to Jesus Christ the Lord, have brought about an ecumenism of blood,” the Pope emphasised. 

At the end of his softly but firmly pronounced speech, Francis greeted and thanked Patriarch Bartholomew and invited delegates from Constantinople “to continue to pray for me and for the ministry with which I have been entrusted.”

“Together towards unity despite our differing starting points,” Francis tells Orthodox - Vatican Insider

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