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No impediments remain to full communion, Pope tells Orthodox Patriarch

November 30, 2015

In a message to the Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, Pope Francis wrote that “there is no longer any impediment to Eucharistic communion which cannot be overcome through prayer, the purification of hearts, dialogue and the affirmation of truth.”

The Pope’s message to the Ecumenical Patriarch was timed for November 30, the feast of St. Andrew, patron of the Constantinople see. Each year the Holy See sends a delegation to celebrate that feast with the Ecumenical Patriarch, just as the Orthodox leader sends representatives to Rome for the patronal feast of Sts. Peter and Paul on June 29. This year Cardinal Kurt Koch, the president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, led the Vatican delegation.

In his message Pope Francis took note of the 50th anniversary of a joint declaration signed by Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras I, which lifted the mutual excommunications that had been pronounced in 1054 and “consigned those painful memories to oblivion.” Church leaders today should draw inspiration from that anniversary, the Pope said.

Having restored fraternal ties, the Pope wrote, the Catholic and Orthodox churches should complete the restoration of full communion. He observed that “the symbol of the fraternal embrace finds its most profound truth in the embrace of peace exchanged in the Eucharistic celebration.”


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  • Posted by: AimezLoyaute - Dec. 03, 2015 10:33 AM ET USA

    We have been having a dialog of Charity which is necessary and right. Perhaps now, there may be also introduced, in more profound ways, a dialog of Truth.

  • Posted by: AgnesDay - Dec. 01, 2015 1:16 PM ET USA

    Point taken, loumiamo. So what's changed? When have there EVER been impediments to Eucharistic Communion that cannot be overcome, etc.?

  • Posted by: Lucius49 - Dec. 01, 2015 9:41 AM ET USA

    No impediments? As mentioned in the prior post, there is the marriage problem. There is also the problem of acceptance of all the Councils and doctrinal development after the schism as well as the issue of the universal jurisdiction of the Pope. Recall Bl Paul VI signed the documents of Vatican II, Paul Bishop of the Catholic Church. It's news to me that these issues have been resolved.

  • Posted by: loumiamo - Dec. 01, 2015 7:24 AM ET USA

    Is Pope Francis ur new headline writer/spinner? After all, the first quote in this story can accurately be rephrased thusly: ALL the impediments to Eucharistic communion can STILL be overcome by prayer, etc. But maybe the millions, billions of people smarter than I can benefit from Francis's phraseology.

  • Posted by: Gregory108 - Dec. 01, 2015 1:38 AM ET USA

    Only one impediment remains: Patriarch Kiril of Moscow. As long as he is the head of such a very large percentage of Orthodox adherents, and as long as he has so great a dislike of the Catholic Church that he sees every Catholic person who has the misfortune of setting foot in his "canonical territory" as a personal threat to his power and sees Catholic Farmer Sergius talking to Orthodox Farmer Vanya about the Catholic Church at the seed store as "impermissible proselytizing," it won't happen!

  • Posted by: TheJournalist64 - Nov. 30, 2015 9:52 PM ET USA

    So when we celebrate together and arrive at the Filioque clause in the creed, what then happens?

  • Posted by: AgnesDay - Nov. 30, 2015 5:17 PM ET USA

    I'm a great admirer of Patriarch Bartholomew, but I am concerned about the differences in discipline regarding the Sacrament of Matrimony between the Orthodox and Uniate Churches. What has happened regarding this?