Pope tells Bartholomew that trust will help achieve full unity

Francis sends a message to the Ecumenical Patriarch on the feast day of Saint Andrew, teh Patriarchate’s patron saint. The "primary duty" of Christians is to offer an example of dialogue, mutual respect, and cooperation to a world where war will end when people realise that they are brothers and sisters.


Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis sent a message to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew for the feast day of Saint Andrew, patron saint of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, carried to Istanbul by a Catholic delegation in what has become a traditional exchange between the two Churches on the feast day of their respective patron saints.

In his message, the pontiff says that he trusts that the Catholic Church and the Ecumenical Patriarchate can reach the same goal of full communion, asserting that for Christians, a “primary duty” is to offer an example of dialogue, mutual respect, and cooperation to a world where war will not end until people realise that they are brothers and sisters.

Led by Card Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, the Catholic delegation took part in the Divine Liturgy at the St George's Cathedral, the patriarchal church, in Istanbul’s Phanar quarter, seat of the Patriarchate.

“I recall with great joy the presence of Your All Holiness at the international meeting for peace held in Rome on 20 October last, with the participation of representatives of various Churches and other religious traditions,” reads the letter.

“Together with the challenges posed by the current pandemic, war continues to afflict many parts of the world, while new armed conflicts emerge to steal the lives of countless men and women.

“Undoubtedly all initiatives taken by national and international entities aimed at promoting peace are useful and necessary, yet conflict and violence will never cease until all people reach a deeper awareness that they have a mutual responsibility as brothers and sisters. In light of this, the Christian Churches, together with other religious traditions, have a primary duty to offer an example of dialogue, mutual respect and practical cooperation.

“With profound gratitude to God, I have experienced this fraternity at first hand in the various encounters we have shared. In this regard, I acknowledge that the desire for ever greater closeness and understanding between Christians was manifest in the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople before the Catholic Church and other Churches engaged themselves in dialogue.

“This can be seen clearly in the encyclical letter of the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate addressed to the Churches worldwide exactly one hundred years ago. Indeed, its words remain relevant today: ‘When the several Churches are inspired by love, and place it before everything else in their judgment of the others and in relation towards each other, they will be able, instead of increasing and widening the existing dissentions, to lessen and diminish the same as far as possible; and by promoting a constant brotherly interest in the condition, the stability, and the prosperity of the other Churches, by their eagerness in watching what is happening in those Churches, and by obtaining a more accurate knowledge of them, and by their readiness to give, whenever occasion arises, a hand of help and assistance, they then will do and achieve many good things to the glory and profit both of themselves and of the whole Christian body, and to the advance of the matter of the union.’

“We can thank God that relations between the Catholic Church and the Ecumenical Patriarchate have grown much over the past century, even as we continue to yearn for the goal of the restoration of full communion expressed through participation at the same Eucharistic altar. Although obstacles remain, I am confident that by walking together in mutual love and pursuing theological dialogue, we will reach that goal. This hope is based on our common faith in Jesus Christ, sent by God the Father to gather all people into one body”.

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