tanbul (AsiaNews) - During the solemn celebration in the Greek Byzantine rite of Saint Andrew, patron saint of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople the Apostle,bl Patriarch Bartholomew expressed his willingness to continue the dialogue with the "Sister Church" of Rome as well as his co conviction that with Pope Francis this dialogue will have "new blood". Yesterday, before the meeting, a Vatican delegation visited for the first time in history the Halki Theological School in Istanbul.
As required by tradition, a Holy See delegation was again present at this year's Saint Andrew celebration on behalf of Pope Francis. It included Card Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, the Council's Secretary Bishop Brian Farrell and its Under Secretary Mgr Andrea Palmieri.
In his homily, the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew said that during his long life, which has had its lot of suffering and persecution, the Church of Constantinople has been able to maintain its faith and bear its witness, spreading the message of our Lord Jesus Christ far and wide on our Earth.
It is necessary to support with fervour the "dialogue of love" between the two sister Churches, Bartholomew noted, by working together on joint initiatives to enhance the Church's mission, which after the election of our brother in Christ, acquired new blood. "We have expressed," he added, "this conviction and desire to the Holy Father Francis the day of his inauguration."
"We are very saddened by our failure to reach full communion, cause of so many evils among us Christians," he said. One of the causes of the lack of full communion lies with those groups who in the history of the Christian Church have claimed to be bearers of truth, and essentially reduced dialogue to a monologue. Even today, there are those who come up with procedural obstacles to slow down the dialogue of love between the two Churches.
Precisely for this reason, said Bartholomew, the decision to meet in the spring of 2014 in Jerusalem is important. Decided at our meeting right after the inauguration of the beloved Pope Francis (pictured), who was called to succeed wise Pope Benedict XVI, the meeting will mark the 50th anniversary of the historic embrace between Pope Paul VI and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras, who by their action removed the secular misunderstandings between Christians, and began the dialogue towards our coveted unity willed by our Lord.
As "two ecclesiastical and spiritual leaders, we shall meet in order to address an appeal and invitation to all people, irrespective of faith and virtue, for a dialogue that ultimately aims at the knowledge of Christ's truth", which is truly useful to human existence.
Finally, turning to Card Kurt Koch, Bartholomew stressed the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople's strong and unwavering will to support dialogue with everyone and with all the means at its disposal, expressing the belief that, together with Pope Francis, the dialogue between the two Sister Churches will be enhanced by new blood "so as to spread peacefully the message of Jesus Christ."