Pope Francis to Orthodox priests: ‘Unity does not come about by standing still’

Courtney Mares   By Courtney Mares for CNA

 

Pope Francis meets with a delegation of priests and monks from Eastern Orthodox churches at the Vatican on June 3, 2022. / Vatican Media. See CNA article for full slideshow. 

Vatican City, Jun 3, 2022 / 10:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis met Friday with a delegation of priests and monks from Eastern Orthodox churches at the Vatican.

“Unity is not simply an end in itself, but is closely tied to the fruitfulness of the Christian proclamation: unity is for mission. Jesus prayed for his disciples that they ‘may all be one … so that the world may believe,’” the pope told the Orthodox delegation on June 3.

“At Pentecost, the Church was born as a missionary Church. Today too, the world is waiting, however unconsciously, to hear the Gospel message of charity, freedom and peace. It is a message that we are called to bear witness to with one another, not against one another or apart from one another.”

The Orthodox delegation visiting the Vatican was made up of 18 priests and monks from Egypt, Armenia, Lebanon, Syria, India, Ethiopia, and Eritrea.

Within the group, clergy from the Coptic Orthodox Church, Armenian Apostolic Church, Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch, and many others were represented.

In his speech to the delegation, Pope Francis spoke about the Solemnity of Pentecost and the gift of Christian unity.

He said that unity is a gift “of the working of the Holy Spirit, to whom we need to open our hearts in trust, so that he can guide us along the path to full communion.”

The pope also noted that “unity is not uniformity,” but rather a “harmony in the diversity of the charisms bestowed by the Spirit.”

The Orthodox delegation was invited to the Vatican by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. Cardinal Kurt Koch, the president of the council, welcomed the group to Rome on May 31.

While in Rome, the delegation is scheduled to visit the Vatican Secretariat of State, the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Congregation for Catholic Education, Pontifical Armenian College, and the Pontifical Maronite College.

“Unity does not come about by standing still, but by moving forward with the new energy that the Spirit, from the day of Pentecost, impresses on the disciples,” Pope Francis said.

Quoting St. Irenaeus of Lyon, whom the pope recently declared the “Doctor of Unity,” the pope said that the Church is “tõn adelphõn synodía, a caravan of brothers.”

Pope Francis also thanked the priests who have witnessed to the Gospel amid Christian persecution and violence in their countries.

“Dear brothers, may the cross of Christ be the compass that directs us on our journey towards full unity. For on that cross Christ, our peace, reconciled us and gathered us into one people,” he said.


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7 Comments

  1. This from St. Irenaeus, on synodal “moving forward” while also remaining steadfast in “our hearts”:

    “From the beginning, God had implanted in the heart of man the precepts of the natural law. Then he was content to remind him of them. This was the Decalogue” (Ratzinger, On the Way to Jesus Christ, translated by Michael J. Miller, Ignatius, 2005; 162).

    • Simply an unrelated analogy and nothing more, but THIS about “movement,” from Henry VIII (versus Thomas More who is “honest,” in “A Man for All Seasons” by Robert Bolt):

      “…There are those like Norfolk who follow me because I wear the crown, and there are those like Master Cromwell who follow me because they are jackals with sharp teeth and I am their lion, and there is a mass that follows me because it follows anything that moves….”

  2. Rigidly standing still can be detrimental to Unity. The Pentecost festivities have the potential to infuse malleability and flexibility in fellow mortals, accustomed to standing still, come what may.

    • It didn’t take us long to land, again, on the cliche of “rigidity!”
      Consider, instead, that the deepest rut of all is progressivism…
      Or, this, from Thomas More (in “A Man for All Seasons”) about “rigidly” standing fast:

      “If we lived in a State [or Church?] where virtue was profitable, common sense would make us good, and greed would make us saintly. And we’d live like animals or angels in the happy land that needs no heroes. But since in fact we see that avarice, anger, envy, pride, sloth, lust and stupidity [and name calling?] commonly profit far beyond humility, chastity [!], fortitude, justice and thought [!], and have to choose, to be human at all…why then perhaps we must STAND FAST A LITTLE [caps added]–even at the risk of being heroes.”

    • Some people may never have seen good Christian soldiers, standing at attention, in allied formation. Not only are they a sign of unity, their uniform position and formation signal alert attention to their commander. Rigidity is good. Rigidity is VERY good to those who are alert and attentive to God, their commander-in-chief. We do not follow those who do not follow Him. We are not gelatinous, formless, chaotic confused messes. Good Christian soldiers are firm, ready, strong, together, following their Christ-like leader. They do not follow leaders who disrupt, destroy, destruct, deceive, and deny.

  3. Unity is destroyed by ignoring the word of God. Some feel cultural marxism serves mankind in a better way! Manmade institutions do not nurture the soul of man. Unity begins and ends through Jesus Christ.

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