Pope open to Orthodox synod structure

 — June 28, 201328 juin 2013
By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service

Pope says ecumenical dialogue leads to growth in faith, evangelization

[Vatican City] Pope Francis, who recently spoke of a need to increase the common responsibility all bishops hold for the universal church, told a delegation of Orthodox leaders that the Catholic Church can learn from the synod structure of the Eastern Christian churches.

Dialogue for Christian unity is not a theoretical exercise for theologians, but an essential, practical tool for growing in faith and for evangelization, Pope Francis told a delegation from the Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarchate of Constantinople.

“This is not merely a theoretical exercise, but one of getting to know each other’s traditions in order to understand and even learn from them,” the pope said during the meeting June 28.

Pope Francis said he was referring particularly “to the reflection of the Catholic Church on the meaning of episcopal collegiality and the tradition of synodality, so typical of the Orthodox churches,” in which the synods function as a symbol of the unity of the local churches and as a governing body united to the patriarch or spiritual leader of the church.

During a meeting June 13 with members of the Catholic Church’s council for the world Synod of Bishops, Pope Francis had said he and others were studying how the synod could develop “to further promote dialogue and collaboration among the bishops and between the bishops and the bishop of Rome.”

In his address to the Orthodox, Pope Francis said that while ecumenical dialogue can and should contribute to the internal lives and faith of the churches, the goal of full unity is a response to Jesus’ desire that his disciples would be one so that the world would believe.

“In our world, which is hungering and thirsting for truth, love, hope, peace and unity,” the pope said, “it is important for our witness that we finally are able to proclaim the good news of the Gospel with one voice and celebrate together the divine mysteries of new life in Christ.”

Metropolitan John of Pergamon, the Orthodox co-chairman of the international Catholic-Orthodox theological dialogue, led the delegation from the Patriarchate of Constantinople to Rome for the June 29 feast of Ss. Peter and Paul.

Since 1969, the patriarchs have sent delegations to the Vatican each year on the feast of the Vatican’s patron saints, and the popes have sent a delegation to Turkey each year for the feast of St. Andrew, patron of the patriarchate.

The annual meetings and prayerful participation in each other’s feast day liturgies are “an essential part of the journey toward unity,” said the pope, who also hosted a luncheon for the delegation.

Metropolitan John said the exchange of delegations is a sign of the Catholic and Orthodox churches’ “strong commitment to the sacred cause of the restoration of the full communion that existed between them in the first Christian millennium.”

“This communion was broken on account of disagreements on matters of faith, but also because of the freezing of love,” the Orthodox leader said. “It is only through a dialogue of love and faith that this communion can be restored.

“Christian unity is not a luxury, but an imperative for the church,” Metropolitan John told the pope. “We cannot preach love and peace to the world unless we first practice them ourselves. This makes humility and dialogue the only path we can follow in order to be faithful to the Gospel of our Lord.”

The metropolitan began his address by honouring the See of Rome, “which presides in love” over the entire Christian community. He said the pope’s “simplicity and Christian humility” are traits that “offer us the hope that the difficult and thorny issue of Roman primacy, which has divided Christendom in the past, can be placed in a true spirit of Christian communion and synodality as it was understood and practised in the early, undivided church.”

The international Catholic-Orthodox theological dialogue is studying collegiality and how the bishop of Rome, the pope, exercised his primacy and authority before the 1054 Great Schism in which Orthodox and Catholics split. The hope is that a thorough understanding of how it worked in the past could give Catholics and Orthodox ideas for how the pope could exercise his role in a re-united Christian church.

“I am confident that the effort of shared reflection, so complex and laborious, will bear fruit in due time,” Pope Francis said.

The pope also said he was “comforted to know that Catholics and Orthodox share the same understanding of dialogue,” which is not one of seeking the least common denominator or a theological compromise, but is based on an ever-deeper understanding of the truth and the will of Christ.

“For this reason,” he said, “we should not be afraid of encounter and of true dialogue. It does not take us away from the truth, but rather, through an exchange of gifts, it leads us, under the guidance of the Spirit of truth, to the whole truth.”

Posted: June 28, 2013 • Permanent link: ecumenism.net/?p=6448
Categories: CNSIn this article: Catholic, church reform, collegiality, dialogue, Orthodox, Pope Francis, synodality
Transmis : 28 juin 2013 • Lien permanente : ecumenism.net/?p=6448
Catégorie : CNSDans cet article : Catholic, church reform, collegiality, dialogue, Orthodox, Pope Francis, synodality

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