The recent cruise on the Adriatic Sea by Patriarch Bartholomew -
accompanied by an assortment of prelates both Greek and Roman
culminated in the celebration of the Divine Liturgy by the Patriarch
in the Byzantine splendour of the Church of Saint Appolinare in
Ravenna, Italy on Sunday the 9th, and in the signing on Monday the
10th of June of an accord on the need to protect the environment.
For most of us this has passed unnoticed or been tucked away under
the "business as usual at the Phanar" file.
However, mention has been made on some lists, perhaps this one, I am
not sure, that at the celebration of the Divine Liturgy, the
Patriarch made an invitation, either overt or implied, that anyone
present, meaning the Roman Catholics who attended, could come and
receive Holy Communion.
The story is that it was observed that indeed
some of those who lined up and received Holy Communion made the sign
of the Cross in the Latin manner, with the implication that thus
Roman Catholics had indeed communed at the hands of the Ecumenical
Is this mere rumour, or can it be backed up by fact? Perhaps those
list members who read Greek and follow the Greek ecclesiastical press
might be able to throw some light on the matter. Rumours they MUST
remain and given no credence until or unless they are substantiated.
Distributed by The Associated Press, June 9, 2002
Patriarch Celebrates First Orthodox Liturgy for 12 Centuries in
Ancient Italian Church
By Elena Becatoros Associated Press Writer
RAVENNA,, June 9, 2002 (AP) -- With a passionate appeal for Christian
unity, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I on Sunday celebrated the
first Orthodox liturgy in 12 centuries in this ancient outpost of
Bartholomew, leader of the world's 200 million Orthodox Christians,
is determined to help heal the nearly 1,000-year-old division between
his faithful and the Vatican.
But dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church, which started in the
1980s, has often foundered over doctrinal and political disputes.
"Deep feelings of ... joy pervade me today because, by the grace of
God, we are given the opportunity to worship Him in this ... ancient
sacred church, built when His church was united," Bartholomew said at
the 6th century Byzantine church of Sant' Apollinare in Ravenna, 85
miles southwest of Venice.
"It is truly a blessing of God and heralds better relations between
the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches," he added.
The Divine Liturgy - in what was one of the westernmost reaches of
the Byzantine Empire - was the highlight of voyage through the
Adriatic Sea blending religion, the environment and science.
The trip, which wraps up in Venice, has covered Orthodox lands in the
Balkans to the heart of Catholicism.
At the Vatican, Pope John Paul II led off his weekly address in St.
Peter's Square with word of Bartholomew's travels.
John Paul said an accord calling for the protection of the
environment - which the two religious leaders will sign Monday - was
another example of joint efforts that "herald a renewed and full
He said Bartholomew's visits to Ravenna and Venice would "encourage
us to follow the path toward the full unity between Christians of the
East and West."
The two churches began drifting apart in the 5th century, with the
Eastern and Western branches of Christianity differing in how they
celebrated the liturgy.
The rift was cemented with the Great Schism of 1054, when they broke
in a dispute over papal authority that still remains a major thorn in
relations. The Orthodox patriarch is considered the "first among
equals" of the more than a dozen autonomous Orthodox churches.
Major stumbling blocks now include the Eastern Rites churches, which
carry on Orthodox traditions but maintain allegiance to the pope.
Many Orthodox clerics see this as an attempt to usurp Orthodoxy and
as a deliberate encroachment on their territory.
"We know of the problems and difficulties of the theological
dialogue," Bartholomew said.
"But we always have hope in God's desire for our unity, that the
light of His truth will shine in everyone's hearts and will lead the
minds, hearts and footsteps of all to the unity of faith," he noted.
Bartholomew said he was seeking spiritual rather than administrative
or organizational unity between the two churches.
Dressed in white ceremonial robes, Bartholomew celebrated the Divine
Liturgy - the Orthodox religious service that culminates with
Communion - flanked by copies of two mosaics from the Haghia Sophia
church, once the center of worship in the former Byzantine capital of
Constantinople, now Istanbul, Turkey. It is now a museum.
A choir of Orthodox clergy chanted beneath Sant' Apollinare's
spectacular mosaics, which depict the ideas and stories of the
The Orthodox liturgy "makes the mosaics smile with satisfaction
today," Bartholomew said, echoing the welcoming address of Archbishop
Copyright © 2002 The Associated Press. All rights reserved