Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople attend an ecumenical celebration in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem May 25. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
Jerusalem, Israel, May 25, 2014 / 11:56 am (CNA/EWTN News).-
In a declaration delivered at the end of a private meeting, Pope
Francis and the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I
marked a new step on the journey towards unity, stressing their
commonality in areas such as respect for the sanctity of life and the
protection of the family.
Pope Francis and Patriarch
Bartholomew met in Mount Scopus, Jerusalem on May 25 during the
pontiff's current three-day visit to the region.
The two signed
a common declaration after a private meeting and an exchange of gifts,
and then held an ecumenical celebration in the Basilica of the Holy
Sepulchre in Jerusalem.
The meeting between the Pope and
Patriarch marks the 50th anniversary of the meeting between Paul VI and
the then Patriarch Athenagoras in Jerusalem Jan. 6 1964, which concluded
with the historical embrace between the two.
Pope Francis and
the Patriarch Bartholomew wanted to commemorate that historical meeting
again in Jerusalem, thus pushing to foster the ecumenical path toward
the Unity of Christians.
“Our fraternal encounter today is a
new and necessary step on the journey toward the unity to which only the
Holy Spirit can lead us, that of communion in legitimate diversity,”
the common declaration read.
Pope Francis and the Patriarch
Bartholomew declared to look forward “in eager anticipation to the day
in which we will finally partake together in the Eucharistic banquet,”
and that Christians are “preparing to receive this gift of Eucharistic
communion” through “the confession of the one faith, persevering prayer,
inner conversion, renewal of life and fraternal dialogue.”
The Pope and the Patriarch underscored the “substantial progress” of the
theological encounters which took place under the predecessors St. John
Paul II, Benedict XVI and Patriarch Dimitrios.
theological dialogue “does not seek a theological lowest common
denominator on which to reach a compromise, but is rather about
deepening one’s grasp f the whole truth that Christ has given to his
Church,” the common declaration said.
“Our faithfulness to the
Lord demands fraternal encounter and true dialogue,” a common pursuit
that does not “lead us away from the truth,” but “rather, through an
exchange of gifts, it will lead us into all truth,” the Pope and the
The common declaration provided the fields
in which the Catholic Church and the Ecumenical Patriarchate may work
together in the service of humanity.
The common fields are:
the defense of the dignity of the human person at every stage of life and the sanctity of family based on marriage; the promotion of peace and
the common good; the response to the suffering that afflict the world.
“We acknowledge that hunger, poverty, illiteracy, the inequitable
distribution of resources must constantly be addressed,” and “it is
our duty to seek to build together a just and humane society in which no
one feels excluded or emarginated,” the Pope and the Patriarch
The Pope and the Patriarch also announced their
common commitment for the safeguard of the creation, acknowledging “in
repentance the wrongful mistreatment of our planet, which is tantamount
to sin before before the eyes of God.”
“We reaffirm our
responsibility and obligation to foster a sense of humility and
moderation so that all may feel the need to respect creation and to
safeguard it with care,” the Common declaration reads.
Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew also urged an “effective cooperation of Christians in
order to safeguard everywhere the right to express publicly one’s faith
and to be treated fairly when prompting that which Christianity
continues to offer to contemporary society.”
While inviting to
the promotion of “authentic dialogue” with Judaism, Islam and other
religious tradition, the Pope and the Patriarch expressed “profound
concern” for the situation of the Christian in Middle East and “for
their right to remain full citizens of their homelands.”
Roman Pontiff and the Patriarch of Constantinople especially prayed for
the Churches in Egypt, Syria and Iraq, and encouraged “all parties,
regardless their religious convictions, to continue to work for the
reconciliation and for the just recognition of people’s rights.”
“We are persuaded that it is not arms, but dialogue, pardon and
reconciliation that are the only possible means to achieve peace,” the
common declaration read.
For this purpose, the Pope and the
Patriarch stressed that “it is precisely through our common witness to
the good news of the Gospel that we may be able to help the people of
our time to rediscover the way that leads to truth, justice and peace.”