Greeting a delegation of the leader of Eastern Orthodoxy on Saturday, Pope Francis voiced hope that Catholics and Eastern Orthodox would encounter each other more often, so as to overcome prejudices. “I hope, therefore, that opportunities may increase for meeting each other, for exchange and cooperation among Catholic and Orthodox faithful, in such a way that as we deepen our knowledge and esteem for one another, we may be able to overcome any prejudice and misunderstanding that may remain as a result of our long separation,” the Bishop of Rome said June 27 at the Vatican's Apostolic Palace. He was receiving representatives of Bartholomew I, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, who are in Rome to observe the June 29 feast of Saints Peter and Paul, who were martyred in the city and who are the principal patrons of the Church of Rome. “Your presence at the celebrations of our feast testifies once again to the deep relationship between the sister Churches of Rome and Constantinople, foreshadowed by the bond which unites the respective patron Saints of our Churches, the Apostles Peter and Andrew, brothers in blood and faith, united in apostolic service and martyrdom,” Francis told them. He recalled his own visit to Constantinople and to Patriarch Bartholomew, for the feast of St. Andrew, that Church's patron, saying, “The embrace of peace exchanged with His Holiness was an eloquent sign of that fraternal charity which encourages us along the path of reconciliation, and which will enable us one day to participate together at the altar of the Eucharist.” “Attaining that goal, towards which we have set out together in trust, represents one of my main concerns, for which I do not cease to pray to God,” reflected the Bishop of Rome. “It is my desire that we may be able to face, in truth but also with a fraternal spirit, the difficulties which still exist.” He mentioned his support for the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, adding that “the problems which we may encounter in the course of our theological dialogue must not lead us to discouragement or resignation.” “The careful examination of how in the Church the principle of synodality and the service of the one who presides are articulated, will make a significant contribution to the progress of relations between our Churches.” The Pope looked forward to the Pan-Orthodox Synod, assuring the delegates of his prayers “and that of many Catholics,” adding that “I trust also in your prayers for the Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops of the Catholic Church, on the theme of the family, which will take place here in the Vatican this coming October, at which we are looking forward also to the participation of a fraternal delegate from the Ecumenical Patriarchate.” “I renew my gratitude for your presence and for your cordial expressions of closeness,” he concluded. “I ask you to convey my fraternal greeting to His Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew and to the Holy Synod, together with my most heartfelt appreciation for having desired to send eminent representatives to share our joy.” “Please pray for me and for my ministry.”
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