CWN - Pope Francis told a delegation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople that the restoration of “full, visible communion” between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox churches “represents one of my main concerns, for which I do not cease to pray to God.”
The Ecumenical Patriarch customarily sends a delegation to Rome for the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, and the Pontiff in turn sends a delegation to Istanbul for the Feast of St. Andrew. This year, the Orthodox delegation included Metropolitan John Zizioulas of Pergamon, Metropolitan Maximos Vgenopoulos of Selyvria, and Father Heikki Huttunen of the Finnish Orthodox Church.
“It is my desire that we may be able to face, in truth but also with a fraternal spirit, the difficulties which still exist,” Pope Francis said on June 27. “In this way, I wish also to renew my support for the important work of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church.”
“The problems which we may encounter in the course of our theological dialogue must not lead us to discouragement or resignation,” he added. “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 assured the Orthodox delegation of his prayers for the upcoming Pan-Orthodox Synod and asked for prayers for the upcoming Synod of Bishops of the Catholic Church on the family.