Yesterday, as part of an annual tradition established by his predecessors to commemorate the feast of St. Andrew (November 30, 2021), Pope Francis sent a message to the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople expressing hopes that Catholics and Orthodox Christians will collaborate together more often “to make visible our communion.”
(The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople is regarded as the successor St. Andrew the Apostle and “first among equals” in the Eastern Orthodox Church. In Western Latin Christianity, the Pope is regarded as the successor of St. Peter the Apostle.)
In his message, Pope Francis emphasized that Christian unity would be realized through the work of the Holy Spirit. He said, “Beloved brother in Christ, along the path towards full communion between our Churches, we are sustained by the intercession of the holy brothers Peter and Andrew, our patron saints,” Pope Francis said on Nov. 30.
“The full unity for which we yearn is, of course, a gift from God, through the grace of the Holy Spirit. May our Lord help us to be ready to embrace this gift through prayer, interior conversion, and openness to seeking and offering pardon.”
Recalling his recent meeting with Bartholomew I in Rome back in October during an interreligious prayer gathering, Pope Francis noted how their cooperation to promote peace, environmental sustainability, and commitment to “achieve net-zero carbon emissions” demonstrate God’s grace at work in the church.
“It was a source of joy for me that during your recent visit to Rome we were able not only to share our concerns regarding the present and future of our world but also to express our shared commitment to addressing issues of crucial significance for our whole human family, including the care of creation, the education of future generations, dialogue among the different religious traditions and the pursuit of peace,” Francis said.
“In this way, we as Pastors, together with our Churches, strengthen the profound bond that already unites us, since our common responsibility in the face of current challenges flows from our shared faith in God the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth; in the one Lord Jesus Christ, his Son, who became man for our salvation, died and rose from the dead; and in the Holy Spirit, Lord and giver of life, who harmonizes differences without abolishing them.”Francis’ message comes on the eve of the pope’s departure for an apostolic visit to the predominantly Orthodox countries of Cyprus and Greece. According to the Vatican, the visit is scheduled for December 2-6, during which the Pope will meet with the Chrysostomos II, the Orthodox Archbishop of Cyprus, and Ieronymos II, Archbishop of Athens and All Greece.
Source: National Catholic Register