Pope Francis wants full communion with Orthodox

Pope Francis, Sunday wished Patriarch Bartholomew a blessed feast of Saint Andrew and praised their shared friendship.

He then went further, expressing his desire for full communion between the Catholic and Orthodox churches.

Following a long-standing custom, the Holy See sent a delegation to Istanbul to celebrate the feast of Saint Andrew, the patron saint of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, on November 30th.

The delegation was led by Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

“It is with great spiritual joy and in profound communion of faith and charity that I join the prayer of the Church of Constantinople in celebrating the feast of its holy patron, the Apostle Andrew, the first-called and brother of the Apostle Peter,” the pope said in his letter.

“I convey the assurance of the unwavering intention of the Catholic Church, as well as my own, to continue in our commitment to working towards the re-establishment of full communion among the Christians of the East and the West,” Pope Francis said.

Francis noted it has been 40 years since the establishment of a Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic and Orthodox churches.

“The search for the re-establishment of full communion among Catholics and Orthodox is certainly not confined to theological dialogue, but is also accomplished through other channels of ecclesial life,” the pope continued.

“Our relations are nourished above all through authentic gestures of mutual respect and esteem,” he said. “Such actions show a shared fidelity to the word of our one Lord Jesus Christ, and the will to remain together in his love.”

The pope pointed out that Catholics and Orthodox share a common Baptism, but that joint initiatives take it further.

“The Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church,” he said, “have already embarked upon this promising journey, as testified by our joint initiatives.”

And he urged Catholics and Orthodox faithful to strengthen “the daily dialogue of love and life” by praying and working together in harmony.


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