Tag Archives: ecumenism

Popes of Rome and Alexandria meet: Francis and Tawadros

Rome and Alexandria popes.jpg

A rare meeting between two Popes, that is, between the Patriarch of the West and the Patriarch of Alexandria happened earlier today in Rome when Pope Francis received Pope Tawadros of Alexandria, who heads the largest Christian Church in the Middle East. The first meeting between the two churches happened 40 years ago to the day with the Servant of God Pope Paul VI and Pope Shenouda III; at that meeting a Christological agreement was signed and a hope expressed to find a path to unity. Tawadros is on his first pilgrimage outside of Egypt since becoming the head of the Coptic Church in November. He is in Italy for 5 days. 

Pope Tawadros proposed that 10 May each year should be marked as a day of celebration between the two churches. He also invited Francis to visit his Church, founded by Saint Mark the Evangelist around the middle of the First century.

Here is Pope Francis’ address:

For me it is a great joy and a truly graced moment to be able to receive all of you here, at the tomb of Saint Peter, as we recall that historic meeting forty years ago between our predecessors, Pope Paul VI and the late Pope Shenouda III, in an embrace of peace and fraternity, after centuries of mutual distrust. So it is with deep affection that I welcome Your Holiness and the distinguished members of your delegation, and I thank you for your words. Through you, I extend my cordial greetings in the Lord to the bishops, the clergy, the monks and the whole Coptic Orthodox Church.

Today’s visit strengthens the bonds of friendship and brotherhood that already exist between the See of Peter and the See of Mark, heir to an inestimable heritage of martyrs, theologians, holy monks and faithful disciples of Christ, who have borne witness to the Gospel from generation to generation, often in situations of great adversity.

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Pope Francis meets with ecumenical partners and representatives of world religions

The Pope met today with Orthodox leaders, Byzantine and Oriental Orthodox, the Anglicans, other ecclesial communities and leaders of various other religions. Of particular interest is the personal meeting of Francis and Bartholomew; the Pope also met with Metropolitan Hilarion of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Rome Reports has a review of this important ecumenical meeting.

Francis and Bartholomew March 20 2013.jpg

First of all, heartfelt thanks for what my Brother Andrew told us. Thank you so much! Thank you so much!

It is a source of particular joy to meet you today, delegates of the Orthodox Churches, the Oriental Orthodox Churches and Ecclesial Communities of the West. Thank you for wanting to take part in the celebration that marked the beginning of my ministry as Bishop of Rome and Successor of Peter.

Yesterday morning, during the Mass, through you , I recognized the communities you represent. In this manifestation of faith, I had the feeling of taking part in an even more urgent fashion the prayer for the unity of all believers in Christ, and together to see somehow prefigured the full realization of full unity which depends on God’s plan and on our own loyal collaboration.

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Metropolitan Hilarion on the offensive

It’s not been a week into the exercise of the Petrine ministry of Pope Francis and members of the Russian Orthodox Church hierarchy are “expressing hope” about the Bishop of Rome will or will not do with regard to the so-called “expansion” of the Ukrainian Byzantine Catholic Church. Really, they are setting conditions for dialogue and fraternal cooperation.

Recognizable is the fact that Russians want to be the dominant Church body in Eastern Europe and they want no “competition” from anyone else. They believe that to be Russian, or Ukrainian, for that matter, is to be Orthodox. They will not accept the possibility of a person’s freedom in choosing which Church to belong and that historically the Byzantine and Latin Catholics have been part of the cultural makeup of the Christian East. As a condition for good relations Metropolitan Hilarion and other Orthodox leaders want to pressure the Bishop of Rome not to work with the Byzantine Ukrainian Church in any way. Pope Francis, and the entire Roman Church wants good and fruitful relationships with the Orthodox Church worldwide, and in Russia. It will not be the case that we turn our back on the Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk and Ukrainian Byzantine Catholic Synod. Lingering disagreements are not resolved by pressure and being agenda-driven.
You would never know that Metropolitan Hilarion was educated at Oxford and that he’s spent much of his youthful days enjoying certain freedom of education and culture in the West with ignorant comments such as he’s made about the Jesuits. His suspicion is greatly exaggerated and offensive. It betrays another level of insecurity of his person and his Church. His comments about the Jesuits, and therefore, Pope Francis, show yet example of that he is not a serious churchman. One only has to recall that it’s been the Jesuits in the 20th and 21st centuries who have provided rigorous educational opportunities at the Pontifical Oriental Institute (PIO) in Rome for the service to the Churches. And an education, I might add, to plenty of Orthodox priests, bishops and laity at the expense of the PIO. An anti-Jesuit stance in this case is clichéd and will bear no fruit.
May the great Mother of God bless the Churches.

Ecumenical and Interfaith leaders respond to the election of Pope Francis

Surveying what the ecumenical crowd has to say about this papal election is mixed at best. Time will tell about our interfaith friends, namely the Jewish and Muslim communities. It is said that Pope Francis has had very strong friendships with the Jewish community of Argentina.

On Wednesday night when Pope Francis was introduced to the world on the loggia he said, “And now let us begin this journey, the bishop and people, this journey of the Church of Rome which presides in charity over all the churches, a journey of brotherhood in love, of mutual trust. Let us always pray for one another. Let us pray for the whole world that there might be a great sense of brotherhood.”

Pope Francis Portrait Painting

Pope Francis Portrait Painting (Photo credit: faithmouse)

His All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew (of Constantinople) will attend the enthronement of the newly-elected Pope of Rome on March 19. This is the first time since 1054 that Orthodox bishops will be in attendance. Bartholomew will be accompanied by the Metropolitan of Pergamum, John (Zizoulas), the Metropolitan of Buenos Aires, Tarasios (a native of San Antonio, Texas) and the Metropolitan of Italy, Gennadios.

The Russian Orthodox Church’s Department for External Relations, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, spoke on Thursday that he thought a meeting between the Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow was “possible but the place and timing will depend on how quickly we will overcome the consequences of the conflicts from the turn of 1980s and 1990s.” Hilarion notes, “on several occasions, Pope Francis has shown spiritual sympathy towards the Orthodox Church and a desire for closer contacts.” The Orthodox still refuse to accept the fact that some Christians in the Byzantine East want, in their own freedom, be in communion with the bishop of Rome. Tensions run high when it comes to thinking about the Ukrainian Byzantine Church using the title of Patriarch for their head and the existence of Latin Catholic dioceses in Russia.

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The Patriarch of Constantinople’s letter to Benedict

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The Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, wrote a letter on occasion of the abdication of Pope Benedict. It is a warm letter and testimony to his co-worker in the vineyard. In an era of lots of change in the leadership of many changes, it is interesting to what is said,

It is with regret that we have learned of the decision by His Holiness Pope Benedict to retire from his Throne, because with his wisdom and experience he could have provided much more to the Church and the world.

Pope Benedict leaves an indelible mark on the life and history of the Roman Catholic Church, sealed not only by his brief papacy, but also by his broad and longstanding contribution as a theologian and hierarch of his Church, as well as his universally acknowledged prestige.

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About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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