Goal of ecumenism is unity, not leveling differences

In an example of ecumenism in unity, Pope Francis and Orthodox Archbishop Job of Telmessos left mass together down the stairs under the main altar in St Peter’s Basilica and prayed together at St Peter’s tomb.

Job was representing Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople at the pope’s celebration of the feast of Sts Peter and Paul.

Greeting the archbishop in his homily last Saturday, Francis said:

“Your presence reminds us that we can spare no effort in the journey toward full unity among believers, in communion at every level.

“For together, reconciled to God and having forgiven one another, we are called to bear witness to Jesus by our lives.”

The day before, Francis had told members of the Orthodox delegation that Sts Peter and Paul are exemplars of “the apostolic courage of proclamation, which also entails a commitment to respond to the new challenges of the present time.”

Francis said Patriarch Bartholomew has been a source of inspiration to him, citing in particular the Patriarch’s long-standing theological and pastoral concern about climate change.

Another sign of Gospel courage, he said, is seen in Catholic-Orthodox cooperation in combating human trafficking, assisting migrants and refugees and working for peace.

In his recent meetings with Orthodox leaders in Romania and in Bulgaria, Francis told the Orthodox delegation that he was “increasingly convinced that the restoration of full unity between Catholics and Orthodox will come about through respect for specific identities and a harmonious coexistence in legitimate forms of diversity.

“As bishop of Rome,” he said, “I wish to reaffirm that, for us Catholics, the purpose of dialogue is full communion in legitimate forms of diversity, not a monotonous leveling, much less absorption.”


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