Vatican City, 27 June 2015 (VIS) – A delegation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople is present in Rome for the customary visit on the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, patrons of the Church of Rome, bearing witness to the profound relationship between the two Churches foreshadowed by the bond uniting their respective patrons, the apostles Peter and Andrew, “brothers in blood and faith, united in apostolic service and martyrdom”, as Pope Francis affirmed.
A Holy See delegation reciprocates every year with a visit to Istanbul, Turkey on 30 November, St. Andrew's Day, and the Holy Father recalled the warm welcome he received on this occasion last year from Patriarch Bartholomew and the clergy and faithful of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. “The ecumenical prayer on the vigil of the feast, and then the Divine Liturgy in the Patriarchal Church of Saint George, offered us the possibility of together praising the Lord and asking him with one voice for that day to draw nearer when full, visible communion between Orthodox and Catholics may be re-established”, he said.
“Attaining that goal, towards which we have set out together in trust, represents one of my main concerns, for which I do not cease to pray to God”, he added. “I hope, therefore, that opportunities may increase for meeting each other, for exchange and cooperation among Catholic and Orthodox faithful, in such a way that as we deepen our knowledge and esteem for one another, we may be able to overcome any prejudice and misunderstanding that may remain as a result of our long separation. It is my desire that we may be able to face, in truth but also with a fraternal spirit, the difficulties which still exist”. In this regard, Francis reiterated his support for the valuable work of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, emphasising that the problems that may arise during the course of theological dialogue must not lead to discouragement or resignation. “The careful examination of how in the Church the principle of synodality and the service of the one who presides are articulated, will make a significant contribution to the progress of relations between our Churches”.
The Pope gave the assurance of his prayers and those of many Catholics for the upcoming Pan-Orthodox Synod, and asked in turn for prayers for the Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops of the Catholic Church dedicated to the family, to be held in the Vatican this coming October, “at which we are looking forward also to the participation of a fraternal delegate from the Ecumenical Patriarchate”.