It’s like having your favorite but not too seen aunt Gretchen over the house for coffee to remember what she looks like and to keep up some appearances of genuine love. I shouldn’t make light of such encounters; they are important. It’s tradition and tradition is a very good thing. On the feast of Saints Peter and Paul a delegation is sent to Rome to meet the Pope, to exchange fraternal greetings, to listen to a brief discourse that’s on the mind of the Pope, to hear what the Patriarch of Constantinople has to say, etc. The whole thing is repeated on November 30 when Rome sends a delegation to Constantinople for the feast of Saint Andrew. The trouble is, does anything concrete result from these yearly meetings? What are the implications of this type of high level meeting?  Note the Pope’s perspective and his hope. There is an important rhythm of dialogue that happens in coming to understand human and ecclesial complexities which have an end in mind. Two of the Pope’s paragraphs are noted below. 

The Orthodox delegation included: His Eminence, Emmanuel, metropolitan of France and Director of the Office of the Orthodox Church to the European Union, Bishop Athenagoras, Bishop of Sinope and auxiliary to the metropolitan of Belgium and Archimandrite Maximus Pothos, vicar general of the metropolitan of Switerland.

Watch the video report from H2O News.

Orthodox rchbishop with Pope June 28 2011.jpg

We follow with great attention the work of the Mixed Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church as a whole. From a purely human point of view, one might have the impression that the theological dialogue is having trouble in progressing. In reality, the rhythm of dialogue is linked to the complexity of the themes being discussed, which call for an extraordinary effort of study, of reflection and of reciprocal openness. We are called to continue this course together in charity, invoking light and inspiration from the Holy Spirit, in the certainty that He wishes to lead us to the full accomplishment of the will of Christ: that they may all be one (John 17:21). I am particularly grateful to all the members of the Mixed Commission and in particular to the co-Presidents, His Eminence the Metropolitan of Pergamum Ioannis and His Eminence Cardinal Kurt Koch, for their tireless dedication, their patience and their competence.

In a historical context of violence, of indifference and of egoism, many men and women of our time feel lost. It is precisely by the common testimony of the truth of the Gospel that we can help people of our time to rediscover the way that leads them to truth. The search for truth, in fact, is always also the search for justice and peace, and it is with great joy that I witness the important involvement with which His Holiness Bartholomew spends himself on these subjects. Uniting myself to this intention which is common to us, and recalling the beautiful example of my predecessor, Blessed John Paul II, I wish to invite Christian brothers, representatives of other religious traditions of the world and personalities of the world of culture and science, to participate next October 27 in the city of Assisi, in a Day of Reflection, of Dialogue and of Prayer for Peace and Justice in the World, whose theme will be: “Pilgrims in Truth, Pilgrims in Peace.” Walking together along the streets of St. Francis’ city will be a sign of the will to continue to advance on the path of dialogue and fraternity.