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Pope Francis receives the Apostoliki Diaconia of the Orthodox Archdiocese of Athens Pope Francis receives the Apostoliki Diaconia of the Orthodox Archdiocese of Athens  (Vatican Media)

Pope to Greek Orthodox: ‘we have more in common than what keeps us apart'

Pope Francis receives in audience the Apostolikí Diaconía, the authority of the Orthodox Church of Greece, thanking it for its work to promote Christian Unity and to serve families.

By Linda Bordoni

Pope Francis on Monday reflected on the fruitfulness and importance of Catholic Orthodox dialogue on the journey to full communion.

He was speaking to the Apostolikí Diaconía and the Centre for the Family of the Orthodox Archdiocese of Athens whom he received in the Vatican.

The Apostolikí Diaconía is the authority of the Orthodox Church responsible for missions and evangelization and has a large press centre for the dissemination of theological and liturgical texts.

It is headed by Bishop Agathanghelos whom the Pope addressed personally asking him to convey his fraternal good wishes to His Beatitude Hieronymus upon his return to Athens.

In his discourse, the Pope noted that cooperation between Apostolikí Diaconía and the Vatican Council for Promoting Christian Unity has been taking place for over fifteen years and “has resulted in a number of praiseworthy cultural and educational projects”.

“It is a fine example of how fruitful it can be when Catholics and Orthodox work together” he said.

We have more in common than what keeps us apart

The Pope remarked on how during these years it has clearly emerged “that what we have in common is much greater than what keeps us apart”.

Working together, he said, helps us to see one another as brothers and sisters.  

He said young people urge us not to remain prisoners of our differences, “but to grow in the desire to journey together and to dream of surmounting the difficulties standing in the way of full communion”.

“It is up to us to continue to advance together, to work together and to see ourselves once more as brothers and sisters” he said.

Appeal to continue to the journey to communion

The Pope appealed for a joint commitment to make the journey to deeper communion “not as individuals going their separate ways and working for their own goals”, but “as brothers and sisters whom God’s providence has made us encounter as we journey together towards the one Lord, bearing one another’s burdens and rejoicing in each other’s progress”.

Pastoral care of the family

Pope Francis also mentioned the pastoral care of the family as another fruitful field for cooperation between Orthodox and Catholics.

He said that, particularly now, in our rapidly changing time, the challenges faced by Christian families are many. Thus, he said “We are called to remain close to them and to help families rediscover the gift of marriage”.

The Pope concluded highlighting the fact that we are called to be present also  “wherever family life does not correspond to the fullness of the evangelical ideal, or is not lived in peace and joy (cf. Amoris Laetitia, 5)”.

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25 February 2019, 12:32