Cypriot Orthodox Metropolitan Vasilios: Unity makes us stronger
By Vatican News staff reporter
One highlight of Pope Francis' second day in Cyprus was his meeting with the Holy Synod of the Cypriot Orthodox Church at Nicosia's Orthodox Cathedral of St. Barnabas.
Speaking to Vatican Radio’s Christine Seuss as the community prepared to welcome Pope Francis to the country, Metropolitan Vasilios of Constantia and Famagusta said that for the Orthodox Church in Cyprus, dialogue with the Catholic Church is of utmost importance.
Adding that the Pope’s presence and his words in this occasion represent an important step forward in the journey to full unity, the Metropolitan highlighted the crucial role of Christian unity in a world that is facing many challenges.
“We have not to isolate ourselves from each other. It is also a very important act not to be isolated, but to live fraternity as Christians.”
He notes that if the Primate of the Orthodox Church visits an Orthodox Church the main act is the participation in the Eucharistic service. And this is what is missing now, as the Pope comes to Cyprus: “we are not able to share the Holy Eucharist. But this hopefully will be a step to which we are looking for.”
Otherwise, he added, a unity made only of social meetings and an exchange of visits is not complete.
“This is our hope and we have to work hard to get to this point because the unity of the Christians in the world today is very important, not only to give the message of the faith but also to face many, many social issues, (..) for example the pandemic, the problem of the refugees, the secularization of society,” he said.
Christian solidarity drives ecumenical dialogue
He expressed his belief that it is important not to be introspective, but to show the world that “this is the message of the gospel, so we hope and we are very sure that this message will be given by the Pope as he visits Cyprus.
In the interview, Metropolitan Vasilios also speaks about the evolution of the relationship between the Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Church and about how both sides are continuing to pursue dialogue, as well as about the particular issues faced by the population in Cyprus and about how Christian solidarity makes the difference.
He is confident, he concludes, that the Holy Spirit is inspiring those engaged in dialogue and helping them to open their hearts: "because the Holy Spirit goes where he likes, because we don’t guide the Holy Spirit, he guides us!”
“If we are divided, our message for the world is weakened.”