Pope: full unity with Orthodox, but in legitimate diversity, without absorption
Francis met a delegation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate, reiterating the choice of dialogue. He stressed “the strong bonds existing between the Churches of Rome and Constantinople and our common effort to journey towards the fullness of communion for which we long, in obedience to the clear will of Jesus.”
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis met today with a delegation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, currently in Rome for the solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, patron saints of the Catholic Church.
In his address, the pontiff said that the dialogue between Catholics and Orthodox towards full unity continues "in legitimate forms of diversity, not a monotonous levelling, much less absorption.” He also highlighted “the strong bonds existing between the Churches of Rome and Constantinople and our common effort to journey towards the fullness of communion for which we long, in obedience to the clear will of Jesus.”
The Holy Father cited the meetings with Patriarchs Neofit and Daniel and their synods during his recent apostolic visits to Bulgaria and Romania, as well as other meetings, which allowed him to appreciate the “spiritual richness present in Orthodoxy”.
“I assure you that I left those countries with a greater desire for communion. I am increasingly convinced that the restoration of full unity between Catholics and Orthodox will come about through respect for specific identities and a harmonious coexistence in legitimate forms of diversity.
“The Holy Spirit, for that matter, is the one who creatively awakens a multiplicity of gifts, harmonizes them and brings them into authentic unity, which is not uniformity but a symphony of many voices in charity. As Bishop of Rome I wish to reaffirm that, for us Catholics, the purpose of dialogue is full communion in legitimate forms of diversity, not a monotonous levelling, much less absorption.
“For this reason, I consider it valuable in our encounters to share our roots, to rediscover the goodness that the Lord has sown and made grow in each of us, and to share it, learning from one another and helping each other not to fear dialogue and concrete collaboration. The scandal of divisions not fully healed can only be removed by the grace of God as we journey together, accompanying in prayer each other’s steps, proclaiming the Gospel in harmony, working to serve those in need and dialoguing in truth, without allowing ourselves to be conditioned by past prejudices. Thus, in that sincerity and transparency which the Lord loves, we will grow closer to one another and come to appreciate more fully our own identity. We will grow in knowledge and mutual affection. We will experience the fact that, for all our differences, there is indeed much more that unites us and inspires us to move forward together.”
Faced with the many "challenges of the present time", including the "protection of creation", the disciples of Christ are called to respond with a single voice.
“Given the alarming ecological crisis that we are experiencing, promoting care for our common home is not only, for us believers as for all others, a pressing need that can no longer be deferred, but also a concrete way to serve our neighbour in the spirit of the Gospel. I likewise see as a positive sign the cooperation between the Catholic Church and the Ecumenical Patriarchate concerning other timely questions, such as efforts to combat modern forms of slavery, the need to accept and integrate migrants, displaced persons and refugees, and the promotion of peace at various levels.”