Pope to Bartholomew: Only dialogue and encounter can overcome conflicts
By Lisa Zengarini
Following a long-standing tradition, on the occasion of today’s Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle, patron saint of Constantinople, Pope Francis has sent a delegation to Istanbul to convey his greetings and the assurance of his “fraternal affection” to the Ecumenic Patriarch Bartholomew.
The annual exchanges of Delegations
The visit is part of the annual exchange of Delegations between the Holy See and the Patriarchate for their respective patronal feasts, on 29 June in Rome, the Feast of St. Peter and Paul, and on 30 November in Istanbul.
In his message, Pope Francis notes that these visits are “an expression of the depth of the bonds” uniting the Catholic and Orthodox Church of Constantinople and “a visible sign” of their “cherished hope for ever deeper communion”, which he says is “an irrevocable commitment for every Christian” as well as “an urgent priority in today’s world”.
Divisions are the result of sinful action
The Pope further highlights the need to continue analyzing the historical and theological reasons at the origin of the ongoing divisions between the two Churches “in a spirit that is neither polemical nor apologetic but marked instead by authentic dialogue and mutual openness”.
Likewise, he continues, they must “acknowledge that divisions are the result of sinful actions and attitudes which impede the work of the Holy Spirit, who guides the faithful into unity in legitimate diversity”.
They are therefore called “to work towards the restoration of unity between Christians not merely through signed agreements but through fidelity to the Father’s will and discernment of the promptings of the Spirit”.
The Pope remarks that as they journey together toward the goal of unity, the Catholic Church and the Ecumenical Patriarchate are already working together for the common good of the human family in many areas including safeguarding creation, defending the dignity of every person, combatting modern forms of slavery, and promoting peace.
Dialogue and encounter are the only viable path for overcoming conflicts
One of the most fruitful areas of such cooperation, the message says, is interreligious dialogue.
The Pope recalls in particular his recent Apostolic Journey to Bahrain for the occasion of the Forum for Dialogue: East and West for Human Coexistence”, reiterating once again that “Dialogue and encounter are the only viable path for overcoming conflicts and all forms of violence”.
Prayers for the victims of the recent attack in Istanbul
Concluding his message Pope Francis recalls the victims of the recent terrorist attack in Istanbul on 12 November, entrusting them to the mercy of God, while praying he will convert the hearts of those who commit or support such evil actions.
Greetings to Bartholomew during the Wednesday General Audience
The Pope greeted his “dear brother” Bartholomew again during his Wednesday General audience. After his Catechesis, he asked the intercession of the Apostles Peter and Andrew for unity among Christians and peace in the world, especially in “tormented Ukraine”
May St Andrew "teach us to seek the Messiah at every moment of our lives and to proclaim him with joy to all those around us", he then said addressing the Spanish-speaking pilgrims.
The Vatican Delegation
According to the Holy See’s Press Office, the Pope’s message was consigned to H.B. Batholomew by Cardinal Leonardo Sandri and read out at the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy presided over by the Ecumenical Patriarch, His Holiness Bartholomew, in the Patriarchal church of St. George at the Fanar.
The Prefect Emeritus of the Dicastery for the Oriental Churches is accompanied by Mgr. Andrea Palmieri, Undersecretary of the Dicastery for the Promotion of Christian Unity. After the Liturgy presided over by the Ecumenic Patriarch, the Vatican Delegation, joined by the Apostolic Nuncio to Turkey, Archbishop Marek Solczyński. met with the Patriarch and held conversations with the Synodal Commission in charge of relations with the Catholic Church.
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