Pope Francis – to Phanar: We are determined to restore full communion
The Roman pontiff wrote in his traditional message to Patriarch Bartholomew about the work aimed at "re-establishing full communion" between Catholics and Orthodox.
On November 30, 2019, the head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis, sent a congratulatory message to the Patriarch of Bartholomew on the occasion of the feast of the Holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called – the holy patron of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.
In the message, the Roman pontiff emphasized that through the delegation of the RCC, which participates in the festivities of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, he conveys "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 Christians of the East and the West."
Recalling the 40th anniversary of the Joint International Commission on Theological Dialogue between the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches which is celebrated this year, the head of the RCC noted that the issue of restoring communion “continues to challenge our Churches”.
“During his visit to Phanar, Pope John Paul II said that “the question we should ask ourselves is not whether we can re-establish full communion but rather whether we have the right to remain separated,” the pontiff wrote. “This question, which is only seemingly rhetorical, continues to challenge our Churches and demands that all the faithful respond with a renewal of both attitude and conduct.”
At the same time, he emphasized that "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."
“Our relations are nourished above all through authentic gestures of mutual respect and esteem. <...> The Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church have already embarked upon this promising journey, as testified by our joint initiatives. I trust also that in local contexts all of us will increasingly strengthen the daily dialogue of love and life in shared spiritual, pastoral, cultural and charitable projects,” wrote the RCC head in his address to Patriarch Bartholomew.
As reported by the UOJ, on November 29 and 30, 2019 at the Phanar, celebrations are held on the occasion of the feast of St. Apostle Andrew the First-Called, attended by Patriarch Theodore, Primate of the Alexandrian Orthodox Church, and representatives of the Roman Catholic Church, headed by Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity.