JERUSALEM – His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and His Holiness Pope Francis crossed a fifty-year milestone today, continuing the legacy of their predecessors Pope Paul VI and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras. In 1964, those leaders broke a silence of centuries and paved the way toward greater dialogue.
Meeting this afternoon (May 25, 2014) at the Apostolic Delegation in the Old City of Jerusalem, the global heads of the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox Churches signed a Joint Declaration affirming their commitment to seek unity between their respective ecclesial bodies. Moreover, they expressed their profound concern for the situation of Christians in the Middle East and for their fundamental right to remain full citizens of their homelands:
We are persuaded that it is not arms, but dialogue, pardon and reconciliation that are the only possible means to achieve peace.
The Pope and the Ecumenical Patriarch also reaffirmed their responsibility and obligation to foster a sense of humility and moderation so that all may feel the need to respect creation and to safeguard it with care:
Together, we pledge our commitment to raising awareness about the stewardship of creation; we appeal to all people of goodwill to consider ways of living less wastefully and more frugally, manifesting less greed and more generosity for the protection of God’s world and the benefit of His people.
Finally, the two world leaders underlined the importance of religious understanding and dialogue:
We invite all Christians to promote an authentic dialogue with Judaism, Islam and other religious traditions. Indifference and mutual ignorance can only lead to mistrust and unfortunately even conflict.
Among those in attendance were His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America, His Eminence Metropolitan John of Pergamon, His Eminence Metropolitan Emmanuel of France, His Eminence Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State, His Eminence Cardinal Kurt Loch, President of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, and His Excellency Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto, Papal Nuncio in Jerusalem
(see full text of the Joint Declaration here)
photos by Nikos Manginas