More good news regarding relations with our Orthodox brethren. Nat da Polis, of AsiaNews shares it here.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – The ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople has invited Pope Francis to travel with him to the Holy Land next year to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the embrace between Patriarch Athenagoras and Paul VI, the pioneers of Catholic-Orthodox dialogue. During their private meeting, Bartholomew and Francis explored possible paths towards unity, including theological dialogue, environmental defence, and a visit to the Fanar, after going through proper diplomatic channels.
Earlier, when the pontiff met Christian and other religious leaders, Bartholomew I was the only one who addressed Pope Francis. For the patriarch, Christians must bear witness in a credible way through “Church unity” in order to cope with the world’s economic crisis and to counter “worldly trends” that limit life to its earthly horizons. Bartholomew’s words reflect the pontiff’s notion of stewardship, which he presented yesterday during his inaugural mass.
All this is evidence of the great unity between the two leaders. When Pope Francis introduced the patriarch, he called him, off the cuffs, “my brother Andrew” underscoring the blood ties between the two apostles patrons of the two Churches, Andrew of Constantinople and Peter of Rome, the “first one to be called” and the “first one among the apostles”.
Like Francis, Bartholomew referred to Benedict XVI “as a mild man who distinguished himself by his theological knowledge and charity.”
When he spoke about the “task and huge responsibilities” that await the pope, he said that “the unity of Christian Churches” was “the first and most important of our concerns” in order to ensure that “our Christian witness is seen to be credible near and far.” Hence, it is necessary to continue “the theological dialogue” between Catholics and Orthodox, based on the experience and tradition of the first undivided thousand years.
Fr. Ronald Roberson writes on the USCCB Blog, “Pope Francis Reaffirms the Path of Dialogue.” Here’s a taste,
Pope Francis met today with representatives of Christian churches, ecclesial communities and other world religions who had come to Rome for his inaugural Mass. He received them seated on an armchair at floor level, rather than on the customary raised throne.
After he was greeted by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, Pope Francis thanked him for his remarks, referring to him as my brother Andrew. This was significant because Andrew is the patron saint of Constantinople and Peter is that of Rome; the two represent two ancient churches who are trying to retrieve the fraternal relationship that the two brother apostles had. This was most probably the first time ever that an ecumenical patriarch was present at the inaugural Mass of a pope.
Pope Francis recalled the significance of the Second Vatican Council for ecumenism, and quoted Pope John XXIII who said at the opening session of the council, The Catholic Church considers it her duty to actively work so as to bring about the great mystery of that unity for which Jesus Christ prayed so ardently to His Father in heaven on the eve of his sacrifice. He went on to say that, For my part, I wish to assure you, following in the path of my predecessors, of my firm will to continue on the path of ecumenical dialogue.