Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis sent Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I a message as part of the traditional meeting of delegations for the feast day of their respective patron saints, Saints Peter and Paul on 29 June in Rome and Saint Andrew on 30 November in Istanbul.
For the pontiff, “there is no longer any impediment to Eucharistic communion,” and progress “towards the full communion” can “draw inspiration from the gesture of reconciliation and peace by our venerable predecessors Paul VI and Athenagoras I,” who lifted the mutual excommunications of 1054.
Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, delivered Francis’ message as the head of the Holy See delegation. The pope also sent the patriarch his greetings from Bangui, Central African Republic.
“While not all differences between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches were brought to an end, there now existed the conditions necessary to journey towards re-establishing the ‘full communion of faith, fraternal accord and sacramental life which existed among them during the first thousand years of the life of the Church’ (Joint Catholic-Orthodox Declaration, 7 December 1965). Having restored a relationship of love and fraternity, in a spirit of mutual trust, respect and charity, there is no longer any impediment to Eucharistic communion, which cannot be overcome through prayer, the purification of hearts, dialogue and the affirmation of truth. Indeed, where there is love in the life of the Church, its source and fulfilment is always to be found in Eucharistic love. So too the symbol of the fraternal embrace finds its most profound truth in the embrace of peace exchanged in the Eucharistic celebration.
“In order to progress on our journey towards the full communion for which we long, we need continually to draw inspiration from the gesture of reconciliation and peace by our venerable predecessors Paul VI and Athenagoras I. At all levels and in every context of Church life, relations between Catholics and Orthodox must increasingly reflect the logic of love that leaves no room for the spirit of rivalry. Theological dialogue itself, sustained by mutual charity, must continue to examine carefully the questions which divide us, aiming always at deepening our shared understanding of revealed truth. Motivated by God’s love, we must together offer the world a credible and effective witness to Christ’s message of reconciliation and salvation.
“The world today has great need of reconciliation, particularly in light of so much blood which has been shed in recent terrorist attacks. May we accompany the victims with our prayers, and renew our commitment to lasting peace by promoting dialogue between religious traditions, for ‘indifference and mutual ignorance can only lead to mistrust and unfortunately even conflict’ (Common Declaration, Jerusalem 2014).