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Ecumenical Patriarch pays tribute to Pope Benedict

Catholic World News - February 26, 2013

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople has issued a statement paying tribute to Pope Benedict XVI and his commitment to Christian unity.

“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,” he said.

“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,” the Ecumenical Patriarch added. “His writings will long speak of his deep theological understanding, through his knowledge of the Fathers of the undivided Church, his familiarity with contemporary reality, and his keen interest in the problems of humankind.”

Patriarch Bartholomew continued:

We Orthodox will always honor him as a friend of our Church and a faithful servant of the sacred proposition for the union of all. Moreover, we shall rejoice upon learning of his sound health and the productivity of his theological work.

Personally, we remember with emotion his visit to the See of the Ecumenical Patriarchate over six years ago, together with the numerous encounters and excellent cooperation, which we enjoyed throughout the duration of his primatial ministry.

From the Phanar, we pray that the Lord will manifest his worthy successor as the head of the sister Church of Rome, and that we may also continue with this successor on our common journey toward the unity of all unto the glory of God.

The Ecumenical Patriarch holds a primacy of honor, though not of jurisdiction, among the autocephalous Eastern Orthodox churches. The Ecumenical Patriarchate has 3.5 million members, while the largest Orthodox church (the Russian Orthodox) has 110 million members.

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