For the first time since the Great Schism, ecumenical patriarch to attend pope's inaugural Mass
TURKEY - VATICAN
For the first time since the Great Schism, ecumenical patriarch to
attend pope's inaugural Mass
The metropolitans of Argentina and Italy will accompany Bartholomew.
Moscow Patriarchate hopes in closer cooperation with Rome but excludes
for now a meeting between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill.
Istanbul (AsiaNews) – The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople
Bartholomew I will attend Pope Francis’s inaugural Mass. The Ecumenical
Patriarchate Press Office informed AsiaNews about the decision, noting
that this is the first time such an event occurs since the
Catholic-Orthodox split in 1054, an important sign for Christian unity.
The ecumenical patriarch will be accompanied by Ioannis Zizioulas,
metropolitan of Pergamon and co-president of the Joint International
Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Roman Catholic and the
Orthodox Church, as well as Tarassios, Orthodox Metropolitan of
Argentina, and Gennadios, Orthodox Metropolitan of Italy.
Relations between Catholics and Orthodox have been improving since the
Second Vatican Council through mutual visits, acts of friendship and
Under Benedict XVI, the dialogue picked up in earnest after a lull. In
trying to promote it, the pope suggested ways to express the primacy of
Peter’s successor that could be acceptable to the Orthodox, finding his
inspiration from the undivided Church of the first millennium.
Catholic ecumenism has met however with great resistance from the
Russian Orthodox Church and the Moscow Patriarchate, seat of the ‘Third
The head of the Russian Orthodox Church’s Department for External
Relations, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, said on Thursday that a
meeting between the pope and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow was “possible
but the place and timing will depend on how quickly we will overcome the
consequences of the conflicts from the turn of 1980s and 1990s”.
The issue of the Ukrainian Catholic Church is at the core of the
“conflicts” to which Hilarion was referring. Although it was unbanned
following the collapse of the Soviet Union, it was left without its
original churches, which had been seized by the Communists under Soviet
rule and later transferred to the Orthodox Church.
Still, “on several occasions, Pope Francis has shown spiritual sympathy
towards the Orthodox Church and a desire for closer contacts,” Hilarion
It is his hope that under the new pontificate “relations of alliance
will develop and that our ties will be strengthened.”