(AsiaNews) - The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I will
attend Pope Francis's inaugural Mass. The Ecumenical Patriarchate Press Office
informed AsiaNews about the decision,
noting that this is the first time such an event occurs since the
Catholic-Orthodox split in 1054, an important sign for Christian unity.
ecumenical patriarch will be accompanied by Ioannis Zizioulas, metropolitan of
Pergamon and co-president of the Joint International Commission for Theological
Dialogue between the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox Church, as well as Tarassios,
Orthodox Metropolitan of Argentina, and Gennadios, Orthodox Metropolitan of
between Catholics and Orthodox have been improving since the Second Vatican
Council through mutual visits, acts of friendship and theological dialogue.
Benedict XVI, the dialogue picked up in earnest after a lull. In trying to
promote it, the pope suggested ways to express the primacy of Peter's successor
that could be acceptable to the Orthodox, finding his inspiration from the
undivided Church of the first millennium.
ecumenism has met however with great resistance from the Russian Orthodox Church
and the Moscow Patriarchate, seat of the 'Third Rome'.
head of the Russian Orthodox Church's Department for External Relations,
Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, said on Thursday that a meeting between
the pope and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow was "possible but the place and timing
will depend on how quickly we will overcome the consequences of the conflicts
from the turn of 1980s and 1990s".
issue of the Ukrainian Catholic Church is at the core of the "conflicts" to
which Hilarion was referring. Although it was unbanned following the collapse
of the Soviet Union, it was left without its original churches, which had been
seized by the Communists under Soviet rule and later transferred to the
"on several occasions, Pope Francis has shown spiritual sympathy towards the
Orthodox Church and a desire for closer contacts," Hilarion said.
is his hope that under the new pontificate "relations of alliance will develop
and that our ties will be strengthened."