Pope tells Greek bishops pray for unity, have perseverance in working for recognition
Pope tells Greek bishops pray for unity, have perseverance in working for
Vatican City (CNA) -- Pope Benedict XVI greeted members of the Greek
Episcopal Conference Oct. 30 at the Vatican, expressing hope that one day
the Greek Orthodox Church, which makes up the majority of the Greek
population will one day be reunited with the Catholic Church.
The bishops were visiting the Vatican as part of their "ad Limina" visit.
The Pope told his brother bishops that there is a need, "to intensify
prayer so as to accelerate the coming of that blessed day when it will be
granted us to break the Bread together, and drink together from the same
Chalice." On this subject, he expressed his hope for the opening of "ever
greater prospects of constructive dialogue between the Greek Orthodox
Church and the Catholic Church," and for an increase in "shared spiritual,
cultural and practical initiatives."
"Moreover," the Holy Father continued, "it is my pleasure to send my best
wishes to His Beatitude Christodoulos, archbishop of Athens and of all
Greece," and through him "to the Holy Synod of the Greek Orthodox Church
and to all the faithful."
The Pope also encouraged and affirmed the Greek Catholic bishops in their
desire to finally receive a "recognized juridical status," in Greece. The
Greek government currently only recognizes the Greek Orthodox Church, and
there remain tensions between many Greek Orthodox and the minority of Greek
Catholics who are present in their communities.
"Dialogue on this question is underway," the Holy Father offered, "a
dialogue in which the Apostolic See is not the main player."
"Apart from dialogue, this question also requires perseverance," the Pope
said. "It is unnecessary to add that the Catholic Church seeks no
privileges, but only asks for her identity and mission to be recognized, in
such a way as to be able effectively to make her contribution to the
overall wellbeing of the noble Greek people, of which you are an integral
part. With patience and respect for legitimate procedures it will be
possible, with everyone's commitment, to achieve the desired agreement."
As it is, the Pope noted, there is an "abundant influx" of Catholic
immigrants to Greece who face the Greek bishops and clergy with, ""new
requirements of ministerial service that are not easy to meet."
Bearing in mind the diversity of languages and rites of the faithful, said
Pope Benedict, "I believe the development of constructive dialogue with
other episcopates is more than ever appropriate." From this, he added, will
emerge "prudent decisions" on how to find the ministers and resources
necessary. "Obviously, respect for specific identities must be borne in
mind, but without sacrificing ... the life and plans of the Churches that
Christ entrusted to you."
The Holy Father called upon the prelates "to continue your efforts to
encourage vocational pastoral care;" on the one hand "carefully cultivating
the seeds of vocation," and on the other, "inviting Christian communities
to pray more intensely" for a greater number of priestly and religious
vocations, He also emphasized "the spiritual needs of so many immigrants
who have found a dignified and cordial welcome in your country. This," he
added, "is the style typical of your people."
The Holy Father concluded his talk by recalling the distress felt by many
communities "at the internal displacement of their faithful. Many of them
are scattered over the territory and this leads to difficulties in their
relationships with their respective pastors. It is also phenomena such as
this that reveal the importance of affective and effective unity among you
bishops through greater internal coordination."