-- ZENIT.org News Agency
Pope Receives Delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople
Traditional Meeting Takes Place Prior to Feast of Saints Peter and Paul
VATICAN CITY, June 28, 2013 (Zenit.org) - Pope Francis welcomed a delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, who arrived from Rome to celebrate the Solemnity of Sts. Peter & Paul. The traditional visit on the occasion of the Churches respective patronal feasts began in 1969, a tradition the Holy Father said, that "is an essential part of the journey towards towards unity."
"The search for unity among Christians is an urgent task-you have said that 'it is not a luxury, but an imperative'-from which, today more than ever, we cannot prescind," Pope Francis said.
"In our world that hungers and thirsts for truth, love, hope, peace, and unity, our witness demands that we should at last be able to proclaim, with one voice, the good news of the Gospel and celebrate together the Divine Mysteries of our new life in Christ. We are well aware that unity is primarily a gift from Gift that we must pray for unceasingly, but we all have the task of preparing the conditions, of cultivating the soil of the heart so that this extraordinary grace may be received."
The Holy Father also commended the Mixed International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Churches. The commission which is headed by Metropolitan Ioannis and Cardinal Kurt Koch was credited by the Pope as making a "fundamental contribution to the search for full communion."
"The Commission," he said, "has already produced many common texts and is now studying the theological and ecclesiological relationships between primacy and synodality in the life of the Church."
"It is significant that today we succeed in reflecting together, in truth and in charity, on these topics, beginning with what we have in common, without hiding, however, what still separates us. It is not a question of a mere theoretical exercise, but to know in depth the reciprocal traditions to understand them and, at times, to learn from them."
The Holy Father went on to say that he was comforted knowing that both the Catholic and Orthodox share the same concept of dialogue that is based on "the deepening of the truth that Christ has given to his Church."
Concluding his address, Pope Francis invoked both the patrons of the Church of Rome, Sts. Peter and Paul, and of the Church of Constantinople, St. Andrew, "to intercede for our faithful and for the needs of the whole world, especially the poor, the suffering, and those who are unjustly persecuted for their faith."
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