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Pope optimistic on Catholic-Orthodox dialogue

June 30, 2011

Pope Benedict XVI suggested that the theological differences between the Catholic and Orthodox churches are sometimes exaggerated, as he met with a group of Orthodox prelates representing Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople.

The Pope thanked the Orthodox delegation—led by Metropolitan Emmanuel of France—for coming to Rome to join in celebrations of the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul. “The spiritual intimacy we experience each time we meet causes me profound joy and a sense of gratitude towards God,” the Pontiff said.

Acknowledging the differences that remain between the Catholic and Orthodox faiths, the Holy Father said that “the incomplete communion which already binds us must grow until it becomes full visible unity.” In that context, he spoke about the common perception that theological talks have bogged down:

From a purely human perspective, one could get the impression that theological dialogue proceeds with difficulty. The truth is that its rhythm is linked to the complexity of the questions under discussion, which require extraordinary efforts of scholarship, of reflection, of mutual openness.

For the immediate future, the Pope said, Catholic and Orthodox believers must maintain a “shared witness of the truth of the Gospel,” which can “help mankind of our time to rediscover the path that leads to truth.” That common witness is essential, he said, in an age marked by “violence, indifference, and selfishness,” in which “many men and women feel lost.”


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