Pope Francis meets with a delegation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in the Vatican’s Santa Marta guesthouse, June 30, 2022. / Vatican Media
Vatican City, Jun 30, 2022 / 09:23 am (CNA).
“Seeking Christian unity is not merely a question internal to the Churches,” he said June 30. “It is an essential condition for the realization of an authentic universal fraternity, manifested in justice and solidarity towards all.”
The pope spoke about the role of ecumenical dialogue in peace-building during a meeting with an Eastern Orthodox delegation at the Vatican.
Cardinal Kurt Koch, prefect of the Dicastery for the Promotion of Christian Unity, also took part in the meeting, which was held in the Vatican’s Santa Marta guesthouse, where Pope Francis lives.
The delegation was sent to Rome by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, and also participated in the pope’s Mass for the feast of Saints Peter and Paul on June 29, praying with Pope Francis at the tomb of St. Peter.
Pope Francis and the delegation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople pray before St. Peter’s tomb, June 29, 2022. Vatican Media
During the June 30 encounter, the pope emphasized that Christ is the source of peace in the world.
“Christ is our peace,” he said. “By his incarnation, death and resurrection for all, he has torn down the walls of enmity and division between people.”
“Let us start anew from him,” he continued, “and recognize that it is no longer the time to order our ecclesial agendas in accordance with the world’s standards of power and expediency, but in accordance with the Gospel’s bold prophetic message of peace.”
The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople is an autocephalous Eastern Orthodox Church with about 5.3 million members, most of whom are in Greece. Under Bartholomew I’s leadership, which began in 1991, the Church has emphasized ecumenical initiatives and dialogue between Christians.
Francis said “reconciliation among separated Christians, as a means of contributing to peace between peoples in conflict, is a most timely consideration these days, as our world is disrupted by a cruel and senseless war of aggression in which many, many Christians are fighting one another.”
This moment calls for serious reflection, he said, asking, “what kind of world do we want to emerge in the wake of this terrible outbreak of hostilities and conflict? And what contribution are we prepared to make even now towards a more fraternal humanity?”
“As believers, we must necessarily find the answers to these questions in the Gospel: in Jesus, who calls us to be merciful and never violent, to be perfect as the Father is perfect, and not be conformed to the world,” the pope said.
He said Christians should help each other “not to yield to the temptation to muffle the explosive newness of the Gospel with the seductions of this world.”
“Before the scandal of war, in the first place, our concern must not be for talking and discussing, but for weeping, for helping others and for experiencing conversion ourselves,” he said. “We need to weep for the victims and the overwhelming bloodshed, the deaths of so many innocent people, the trauma inflicted on families, cities and an entire people.”
Pope Francis also noted that Christians are obliged to exercise charity toward Christ present in the poor, wounded, and displaced.
“But we also need to experience conversion, and to recognize that armed conquest, expansionism and imperialism have nothing to do with the Kingdom that Jesus proclaimed,” he said.
The pope said it is his hope that theological dialogue between Catholics and Eastern Orthodox “will progress by promoting a new mentality that, conscious of the errors of the past, can help us to look together to the present and future.”
“Let us not be content with an ‘ecclesiastical diplomacy’ that would allow us to politely maintain our own points of view, but instead journey together as brothers,” he added.