Pope sends greetings to Ecumenical Patriarch on feast of St. Andrew
By Christopher Wells
Sixty years ago, Paul VI and Athenagoras met together in Jerusalem, the first such meeting between a Pope and an Ecumenical Patriarch in more than a thousand years.
“That encounter was a vital step forward in breaking down the barrier of misunderstanding, distrust and even hostility that had existed for almost a millennium,” writes Pope Francis, in his annual greetings to the current Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew I.
The Pope continues, saying, “It is noteworthy that today we remember not so much the words and statements of those two prophetic Pastors, but above all their warm embrace.”
He says their example shows “that all authentic paths to the restoration of full communion among the Lord’s disciples are characterized by personal contact and time spent together.”
At the same time, “friendly dialogue, common prayer and joint action in service to humanity” can similarly contribute to overcoming the differences between Christ’s disciples.”
Pope Francis recalls that, “with God’s help,” he and Bartholomew have been able to follow in the footsteps of their “Venerable Predecessors.” In particular, the Pope expresses his gratitude for the Patriarch’s participation in the Ecumenical Prayer Vigil ahead of the General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in October, and the participation of a fraternal delegate from Constantinople in the work of the Assembly.
The Pope concludes his letter with an invitation to “fervently pray to God, our merciful Father, that the clamour of arms, which brings only death and destruction, may cease, and that government and religious leaders may always seek the path of dialogue and reconciliation.”
“May the Holy Apostles Peter and Andrew intercede for all peoples and obtain for them the gifts of fraternal communion and peace.”
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