His Holiness Pope John Paul II and His Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch
Dimitrios I signed a joint declaration on Monday morning, 7 December, at
the conclusion of the Ecumenical Patriarch's visit to the Holy Father
and to the Church of Rome. The text of the declaration follows.
We, Pope John Paul II and the Ecumenical Patriarch Dimitrios I, give
thanks to God who has granted us to meet in order to pray together
with the faithful of the Church of Rome, venerable by the memory of the
principal Apostles Peter and Paul, and to converse with one another
concerning the life of Christ's Church and its mission in the world.
Our meeting is a sign of the fraternal spirit which exists between
the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church. This brotherly spirit which
has been manifested on numerous occasions and in diverse ways, does not
cease to grow and to bear fruit for the glory of God. We experience
again the joy of being together as brothers (cf. Psalm 133).
As we give thanks "to the Father of lights from whom every
perfect gift comes" (cf. James 1: 17), we pray and we invite
all the faithful of the Catholic Church and of the Orthodox Church to
intercede with us before God: may he bring to perfection the work which
he has begun among us! In making our own St Paul's words, we exhort
them: "Make my joy complete by living in full harmony" (Phil
2:2). May the heart of all be constantly disposed to receiving unity as
a gift which the Lord makes to his Church!
We express our joy and satisfaction in taking note of the first
results and the positive evolution of the theological dialogue announced
at the time of our meeting at the Phanar on 30 November 1979. The
documents accepted by the mixed commission constitute important points
of reference for the continuation of the dialogue. Indeed, they seek to
express what the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church can already
profess together as their common faith regarding the mystery of the
Church and the bond between faith and sacraments. Since each of our
Churches has received and celebrates the same sacraments, they perceive
better that, when unity in faith is assured, a certain diversity of
expressions, often complementary, and of proper usages does not create
an obstacle but enriches the life of the Church and the understanding,
always imperfect, of the mystery revealed (cf. 1 Cor 13:12).
In view of these first results of the effort undertaken in common, in
"the obedience of faith" (Rom 1:5), to re-establish full
communion between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, we thank
and encourage the members of the mixed commission for theological
dialogue. We desire that the faithful be informed of this in order that
they may give thanks to God, may join in prayer to the Lord "that
all may be one" (Jn 17.21), may remain vigilant in intercession and
may grow together in faith and hope. We desire as well that advances of
the dialogue may bring Catholics and Orthodox to grow in better mutual
understanding and in greater charity. By preaching, catechesis and
theological formation oriented in this direction, the dialogue will bear
all its fruits in the People of God.
We beseech the Spirit of the Lord, who at Pentecost manifest unity in
the diversity of tongues, to "lead us to the whole, truth"
(cf. Jn 16:13) and to ensure that solutions will be found to the
difficulties which still hinder the full communion which will be made
rnanifest in the Eucharistic celebration.
Our meeting takes place in this year of the twelfth centennial of the
Second Council of Nicaea prepared by a long collaboration without rift
between the Church of Rome and the Church of Constantinople, which
caused the Orthodox faith to triumph. The Churches of East and West,
through the centuries, have celebrated together the ecumenical councils
which have proclaimed and defended "the faith handed on to the
saints once and for all" (Jude 3). "Called to one single
hope" (Eph 4:4), we await the day willed by God when refound unity
will be celebrated and when full communion will be established by a
concelebration of the Lord's Eucharist. We renew before God our common
commitment to promote the dialogue of charity in every possible manner,
following the example of Christ in nourishing his Church and surrounding
it with the solicitude of his charity (cf. Eph 5:29). In this spirit, we
reject every form of proselytism, every attitude which would or could be
perceived as a lack of respect.
This creative charity leads us to collaborate for justice and peace
both on the global as well as on the regional and local level. It urges
us not to limit this collaboration but to open it out beyond Christians
to those who, in other religions, search for God, his justice and
his peace. It makes us ready to work together for the welfare of
humanity with all people of good will. Indeed, the Church's mission
towards the world which Christ comes to save implies the defence of
human dignity wherever it is directly or indirectly called into question
in a multitude of ways: among others, by the misery which hinders a
decent life; by everything which impedes the life of couples and of
families, the basis of the whole of society; by the limitation of the
freedom of individuals and communities to live and profess their faith
and develop according to their own culture; by the use of and traffic in
human beings, youths in particular, in order to gratify the lust of
others or to make them slaves to drug addition; by a pursuit of pleasure
beyond moral limits; by the fear which generates the existence of means
which gravely damage the integrity of creation; by racist ideologies
denying the fundamental equality of all before God, ideologies
particularly inadmissable for Christians who must reveal to the world
the face of Christ the Saviour and thus aid it to overcome its
contradictions, its tensions and its anguish because they believe that
God so loved the world that he gave his own Son in order that all might
be saved by him (cf. Jn 3:16-17) and become in him one single body where
they are members one of another (cf. Rom 12:5).
In these moments full of joy when we experience a profound spiritual
communion which we wish to share with the pastors and faithful both of
the East and the West, we raise our hearts to him who is the Head,
Christ. It is from him that the whole body acts in harmony and agreement
thanks to the structures which serve it according to an activity divided
in the capacity of each one. Thus the body realizes its proper growth.
Thus it builds itself up in love (cf. Eph 4:16).
May all glory be given to God through Christ in the Holy Spirit!
At the Vatican, 7 December 1987.