Pope writes to Bartholomew about Christian unity as sign of hope in a world wounded by conflict
Francis sent the Ecumenical Patriarch a letter for the feast day of Saint Andrew. "Our Churches,” he writes, “have safeguarded the Apostolic tradition with great care, along with the teaching of the first Ecumenical Councils and the Church Fathers, despite the differences that developed in local traditions and in theological formulations, which need to be more deeply understood and clarified.”
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis wrote a letter to the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on the occasion of the feast day of Saint Andrew, patron saint of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
In it, the pontiff said that "In a world wounded by conflict, the unity of Christians is a sign of hope that must radiate in an increasingly visible way". The Church of Rome and the Ecumenical Patriarchate have been pursuing this goal, creating a "profound bond" that has overcome centuries of "mutual misunderstanding, differences and silence".
Card Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, brought the letter to Istanbul as part of the traditional exchange of delegations for the respective feast day of patron saints –29 June in Rome for the celebration of the Saints Peter and Paul and 20 November in Istanbul for the celebration of Saint Andrew.
Card Koch, accompanied by Bishop Brian Farrell, secretary of the Dicastery, and Mgr Andrea Palmieri, undersecretary, took part in the solemn divine liturgy presided by Bartolomeo in the patriarchal church of St George in the Fanar. Card Koch also met with the Patriarch and spoke with members of the Synodal Commission in charge of relations with the Catholic Church.
In his letter, Francis notes that “The exchange of delegations between the Church of Rome and the Church of Constantinople, on the occasion of their respective feast days, has become a joyful custom over the years and expresses the profound bond that unites our two Sees. While centuries of mutual misunderstanding, differences and silence may seem to have compromised this relationship, the Holy Spirit, Spirit of unity, has enabled us to recommence a fraternal dialogue. This was definitively resumed by our venerable predecessors, Patriarch Athenagoras and Pope Saint Paul VI, and has enabled us to rediscover those bonds of communion that have always existed between us.
“Our Churches have safeguarded the Apostolic tradition with great care, along with the teaching of the first Ecumenical Councils and the Church Fathers, despite the differences that developed in local traditions and in theological formulations, which need to be more deeply understood and clarified. At the same time both Churches, with a sense of responsibility towards the world, have sensed that urgent call, which involves each of us who have been baptized, to proclaim the Gospel to all men and women. For this reason, we can work together today in the search for peace among peoples, for the abolition of all forms of slavery, for the respect and dignity of every human being and for the care of creation. With God’s help, through encounter and dialogue on our journey together over the last fifty years, we already experience being in communion, even though it is not yet full and complete.
“The search for the re-establishment of full communion is above all a response to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ, who on the eve of his Passion prayed that his disciples “may all be one” (Jn 17:21). United we give a more effective response to the needs of so many men and women of our own time, especially those who suffer from poverty, hunger, illness and war.”
“In a world wounded by conflict, the unity of Christians is a sign of hope that must radiate ever more visibly. With this in mind, I also assure Your Holiness of my prayer that God, fount of reconciliation and peace, may grant us Christians to “be of one mind, sympathetic, loving toward one another” (1 Pt 3:8). We have been called by God for this, so that we “might inherit a blessing” (1Pt 3:9).”