Full unity is gift of the Spirit, Pope tells Orthodox delegation
Pope Francis on Friday welcomed members of a Delegation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople who had come to Rome for the Solemnity of Sts Peter and Paul. The visit is traditionally reciprocated with a Delegation from Rome on the feast of St Andrew, the patron of Constantinople.
Path toward unity
In his Address to the Delegation, Pope Francis highlighted the values of unity and peace. He expressed his joy at the outcome of the Plenary Session of the Joint International Commission for Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, which resulted in a document on Synodality and Primacy in the Second Millenium and Today.
“It was important”, he said, “to have engaged in a joint reading of the way in which the relationship between synodality and primacy developed in East and West during the second millennium.”
Today, he continued, “we are called to seek together a modality of exercising the primacy that, within the context of synodality, is at the service of the Church’s communion on the universal level”.
He also clarified that the prerogatives enjoyed by the Bishop of Rome “with regard his own Diocese and the Catholic community” need not necessarily be extended to the Orthodox communities, emphasizing that when the Churches are “fully united in faith and love, the form in which the Bishop of Rome will exercise his service of communion in the Church at the universal level will have to be the result of an inseparable relationship between primacy and synodality”.
At the same time, the Pope recalled “that full unity will be the gift of the Holy Spirit, and is to be sought in the Spirit”; and must arise from “fraternal charity” among sisters and brothers who “are capable of setting their diversity within a larger context”.
Overriding concern for peace
A common fraternal outlook, he said, can be an impulse “to share, as brothers, all those things we bare in our hearts: our sorrows and joys, our hardships and hopes” – as well as our concerns, “including our overriding concern for peace, especially in wartorn Ukraine.”
Every war, he said, is an “utter” disaster, which harms individuals, families, and, indeed, all of creation “as we have seen recently following the destruction of the Nova Kakhovka dam.” The Pope insisted that “as followers of Christ, we must not grow resigned to war, but work together for peace”.
“As followers of Christ, we must not grow resigned to war, but work together for peace.”
Peace, he continued, “is not something we can attain by ourselves, but first and foremost a gift of the Lord”. But at the same time, “it remains a gift that requires acceptance by men and women, particularly believers, who are called to share in God’s work of peacemaking”.
Pope Francis went on to insist that peace must “rise up from the human heart”, and must stem from a genuine “conversion of hearts” that results in a love “that cannot be confined to our own group”.
He added that, especially for Christians, “Self-centred and self-seeking attitudes must be countered by God’s own ‘style’ which, as Christ taught us by His example, is one of service and self-renunciation”, adding, “We can be sure that, by incarnating that style, Christians will grow in reciprocal communion and will assist our world, marked as it is by division and discord”.
The Holy Father concluded his address with an assurance of prayers, and asked in turn for prayers for himself and his ministry, while praying that “through the intercession of Saints Peter and Paul, and Saint Andrew, brother of Peter, this encounter may be a further step along our journey towards visible unity in faith and love”.