Pope’s Message for Catholic-Orthodox Symposium

“We All Look With Hope” Toward Full Communion

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 17, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the Sept. 12 message Benedict XVI sent to Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, on the occasion of the 10th Inter-Christian Symposium, dedicated to dialogue between Catholics and Orthodox.
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With great joy I learned that the Tenth Inter-Christian Symposium, promoted by the Franciscan Institute of Spirituality of the Pontifical Antonianum University and by the Department of Theology of the Theological Faculty of the Aristotle University of Thessalonica, will take place on the Island of Tinos, where Catholics and Orthodox live together in brotherly love.
The ecumenical cooperation in the academic field contributes to maintaining an impetus toward the longed for communion among all Christians. To this regard, the Second Vatican Council had glimpsed in this field a possible opportunity to involve all of God’s people in the search for full unity. “This importance is the greater because the instruction and spiritual formation of the faithful and of religious depends so largely on the formation which their priests have received” (“Unitatis Redintegratio,” 10).
The theme of the symposium: “St. John Chrysostom: Bridge Between East and West,” coinciding with the 1,600th anniversary of his death on Sept. 14, 497, will offer the occasion to commemorate an illustrious Father of the Church venerated in the East as in the West — a valiant, illuminated and faithful preacher of the Word of God, upon which he founded his pastoral action; such an extraordinary hermeneutist and speaker that, from the fifth century, he was given the title of Chrysostom, which means golden-mouthed. A man whose contribution to the formation of the Byzantine liturgy is known to everyone.
For the courage and faithfulness of his evangelical witness he was able to suffer persecution and exile. After complex historical events, from May 1, 1626, his body reposed in St. Peter’s Basilica, and on Nov. 27, 2004, my venerated predecessor John Paul II gave part of the relics to His Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I and, thus, this great Father of the Church is now venerated in the Vatican basilica as well as in the Church of St. George in Fanar.
The reflection of your symposium, which will deal with a theme related to John Chrysostom and communion with the Church of the West while analyzing some problems that exist today, will contribute to upholding and corroborating the real — though imperfect — communion that exists between Catholics and Orthodox, so that we may reach that fullness which will one day enable us to concelebrate the one Eucharist. And it is to that blessed day that we all look with hope, organizing practical initiatives such as this one.
With these sentiments, I invoke God’s abundant blessing upon your meeting and all of the participants: May the Holy Spirit illuminate the minds, warm the hearts and fill each one with the joy and peace of the Lord.
I would like to take this opportunity to send a brotherly greeting to the Orthodox and Catholic faithful in Greece, and in a truly special way, to the archbishop of Athens and all Greece, His Beatitude Chrystodoulos, wishing him a full recovery in health, so that he may return to his pastoral service as soon as possible, and I assure my prayers for this intention. May the “Theotokos,” loved and venerated with special devotion on the island of Tinos, offer her motherly intercession so that our shared intentions will be crowned by the much wished for spiritual successes.
From Castel Gandolfo, Sept. 12, 2007

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