Pope Francis and Bartholomew I May Visit the Holy Land Together Next Year…UPDATED

More good news regarding relations with our Orthodox brethren. Nat da Polis, of AsiaNews  shares it here.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – The ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople has invited Pope Francis to travel with him to the Holy Land next year to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the embrace between Patriarch Athenagoras and Paul VI, the pioneers of Catholic-Orthodox dialogue. During their private meeting, Bartholomew and Francis explored possible paths towards unity, including theological dialogue, environmental defence, and a visit to the Fanar, after going through proper diplomatic channels.

Earlier, when the pontiff met Christian and other religious leaders, Bartholomew I was the only one who addressed Pope Francis. For the patriarch, Christians must bear witness in a credible way through “Church unity” in order to cope with the world’s economic crisis and to counter “worldly trends” that limit life to its earthly horizons. Bartholomew’s words reflect the pontiff’s notion of stewardship, which he presented yesterday during his inaugural mass.

All this is evidence of the great unity between the two leaders. When Pope Francis introduced the patriarch, he called him, off the cuffs, “my brother Andrew” underscoring the blood ties between the two apostles patrons of the two Churches, Andrew of Constantinople and Peter of Rome, the “first one to be called” and the “first one among the apostles”.

Like Francis, Bartholomew referred to Benedict XVI “as a mild man who distinguished himself by his theological knowledge and charity.”

When he spoke about the “task and huge responsibilities” that await the pope, he said that “the unity of Christian Churches” was “the first and most important of our concerns” in order to ensure that “our Christian witness is seen to be credible near and far.” Hence, it is necessary to continue “the theological dialogue” between Catholics and Orthodox, based on the experience and tradition of the first undivided thousand years.

Read more.


Fr. Ronald Roberson writes on the USCCB Blog, “Pope Francis Reaffirms the Path of Dialogue.” Here’s a taste,

Pope Francis met today with representatives of Christian churches, ecclesial communities and other world religions who had come to Rome for his inaugural Mass. He received them seated on an armchair at floor level, rather than on the customary raised throne.

After he was greeted by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, Pope Francis thanked him for his remarks, referring to him as “my brother Andrew.” This was significant because Andrew is the patron saint of Constantinople and Peter is that of Rome; the two represent two ancient churches who are trying to retrieve the fraternal relationship that the two brother apostles had. This was most probably the first time ever that an ecumenical patriarch was present at the inaugural Mass of a pope.

Pope Francis recalled the significance of the Second Vatican Council for ecumenism, and quoted Pope John XXIII who said at the opening session of the council, “The Catholic Church considers it her duty to actively work so as to bring about the great mystery of that unity for which Jesus Christ prayed so ardently to His Father in heaven on the eve of his sacrifice.” He went on to say that, “For my part, I wish to assure you, following in the path of my predecessors, of my firm will to continue on the path of ecumenical dialogue.”

Read the rest.

CNS has a brief video of today’s meetings up already.

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  • Hugh McFadden

    I actually had a dream about this which I shared with the members of my community the brothers and sisters of charity this past Monday. What a day in heaven if all of the Patriarchs, Moscow, Antioch, Jerusalem and Alexandria joined Bartholomew and Francis and prayed at the Church of the Holy Seplechure in humility and fraternal love. Tears would fall from heaven

  • Subsistent

    That, unlike the Eastern-Rite Uniats, the Eastern Orthodox are not in FULL communion with Rome, I admit. But there is a view among some educated Catholics which holds that actually, the communion between the two churches has not been entirely broken. For instance, after reading in 1971 an article by one Père M.-Vincent Leroy, the prominent 20th-century Catholic essayist Jacques Maritain was persuaded to the view that there has really never been a COMPLETE break from Rome. In note 35 of Chapter XIX (“The Canticle of Canticles”) of his posthumous book Untrammeled Approaches, he wrote that “despite all the historical misfortunes, the mutual violences and the mutual excommunications, a certain unity, obscurely lived in the depths, has in fact continued to exist in spite of the schism. One would say that under the instinct of the Holy Spirit the popes, even those who expressed themselves most harshly, have always taken care that, in fact, the rupture not be pushed all the way to the end, ne soit pas poussée jusqu’au bout: be it that they have ACCEPTED practically, and in refraining from every formal interdict, a good many things that make the very life of the Orthodox Church (as the validity of the episcopal and sacerdotal ordinations and in general of all the sacraments), be it that in certain cases (as in matter of spiritual jurisdiction), they have themselves given A FREE DELEGATION.”

  • Justinian

    The circumstanstances that led to the Great Schisma were unfortunate. It was a member of a delegation to Constantinople, Cardinal Humbert who excommunicated the Patrirch, who in turn excumminicated Humbert. The authority and validity of Humbert’s action is in question. Pope Leo was not involved, and in fact passed away before the delegation returned. In the turmol and uncertainty after Pope Leo’s death, nothing was done to correct the situation. It was not believed at the time that the skism would ever become prmanent. Subsequent events most notably the Sack of Constantinople by the west in the 4th Crusade closed the window on reconcilation.

    • Subsistent

      However, I understand that Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras put out a joint statement that “consigned to oblivion” those edicts of mutual excommunication.

    • Subsistent

      Also, I forget just when, but sometime in the second half of the 20th century, the Vatican returned to the Orthodox a relic of St. Andrew which the Crusaders had stolen.