Catholic World News

Pope Francis, Ecumenical Patriarch meet in Jerusalem, issue common declaration

May 25, 2014

Pope Francis met privately with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, who holds a primacy of honor in Eastern Orthodoxy, at the apostolic delegation in Jerusalem on May 25.

The meeting took place 50 years after their predecessors, Venerable Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras I, met in Jerusalem and lifted the mutual excommunications imposed in 1054.

“Our fraternal encounter today is a new and necessary step on the journey towards the unity to which only the Holy Spirit can lead us, that of communion in legitimate diversity,” Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I said in a common declaration. “We call to mind with profound gratitude the steps that the Lord has already enabled us to undertake … While fully aware of not having reached the goal of full communion, today we confirm our commitment to continue walking together towards the unity for which Christ our Lord prayed to the Father so ‘that all may be one’” (Jn 17:21).

“The theological dialogue undertaken by the Joint International Commission offers a fundamental contribution to the search for full communion among Catholics and Orthodox,” they continued. “We affirm once again that the theological dialogue does not seek a theological lowest common denominator on which to reach a compromise, but is rather about deepening one’s grasp of the whole truth that Christ has given to his Church.”

The Pope and the Ecumenical Patriarch then focused on areas of common action, including the sanctity of life, the sanctity of marriage, and safeguarding creation:

Yet even as we make this journey towards full communion we already have the duty to offer common witness to the love of God for all people by working together in the service of humanity, especially in defending the dignity of the human person at every stage of life and the sanctity of family based on marriage, in promoting peace and the common good, and in responding to the suffering that continues to afflict our world. We acknowledge that hunger, poverty, illiteracy, the inequitable distribution of resources must constantly be addressed …

It is our profound conviction that the future of the human family depends also on how we safeguard – both prudently and compassionately, with justice and fairness – the gift of creation that our Creator has entrusted to us. Therefore, we acknowledge in repentance the wrongful mistreatment of our planet, which is tantamount to sin before the eyes of God. We reaffirm our responsibility and obligation to foster a sense of humility and moderation so that all may feel the need to respect creation and to safeguard it with care.

Turning to religious freedom and the persecution of Christians, the Pope and the Ecumenical Patriarch spoke of the “urgent need for effective and committed cooperation of Christians in order to safeguard everywhere the right to express publicly one’s faith and to be treated fairly when promoting that which Christianity continues to offer to contemporary society and culture. In this regard, we invite all Christians to promote an authentic dialogue with Judaism, Islam and other religious traditions.”

“We express our shared profound concern for the situation of Christians in the Middle East and for their right to remain full citizens of their homelands,” they continued. “In trust we turn to the almighty and merciful God in a prayer for peace in the Holy Land and in the Middle East in general. We especially pray for the Churches in Egypt, Syria, and Iraq, which have suffered most grievously due to recent events.”

They concluded:

In undertaking this shared pilgrimage to the site where our one same Lord Jesus Christ was crucified, buried and rose again, we humbly commend to the intercession of the Most Holy and Ever Virgin Mary our future steps on the path towards the fullness of unity, entrusting to God’s infinite love the entire human family. “May the Lord let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you! The Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace!” (Num 6:25-26).


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Show 2 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: jeremiahjj - May. 26, 2014 7:42 PM ET USA

    This unity in Christ is all that matters. Filioque clause and that sort of thing -- pfft! -- the Holy Spirit will lead church theologians to the truth. The very idea that these churches split apart over such nonsense is ridiculous. I mean, let them argue over how many angels can dance on the head of a pin if they want to argue over something.

  • Posted by: Gregory108 - May. 26, 2014 7:31 PM ET USA

    Sadly, this Patriarch is not the Patriarch the Pope needs to meet with to discuss unity or closer ties. That Patriarch is in Moscow and continues to delight in his importance to the whole process. He does not want to meet with Pope. Every time a meeting is arranged, he finds a reason to cancel it. Usually it's complaints of those horrible "Uniates" proselytizing in his "Canonical Territory." If the Pope wants to pray for a miracle, this would be the one. Likely not in our lifetime or century.