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Romania and Rome

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  • P. Joshua Hatala
    Most of you have probably already seen this in some form. Strange stuff. Sovereign Pontiff and Patriarch Teoctist to Work Together for Restoring the Unity of
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 29, 2002
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      Most of you have probably already seen this in some
      form. Strange stuff.

      Sovereign Pontiff and Patriarch Teoctist to Work
      Together for Restoring the Unity of All Christians

      By Gabriela Bogdan

      ROME, October 14, 2002 (NineO'Clock) -- Thousands of
      believers participated at the San Pietro Church, on
      Sunday, in what represented the apex of the eight-day
      ecumenical visit undertaken by His Beatitude,
      Patriarch Teoctist, the head of the Romanian Orthodox
      Church, to Vatican. The Patriarch was present, next to
      His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, at the mass
      containing numerous episodes when the two high-ranking
      clergymen delivered the religious service together, at
      times in Romanian. Both the Holy Father and the
      Romanian Patriarch could not help once more reminding
      of the voices of the thousands of young people and
      believers who, in Bucharest, in May 1999, and now in
      Rome, scanned from the bottoms of their hearts:
      �Unity! Unity!�. �Our being present and praying at the
      San Pietro Basilica during the solemn pontifical mass
      - said the Patriarch - is an opportunity for us to
      renew and rejuvenate the common works of restoration
      of the Christian unity, of restoring the close
      relationship between our Churches. As far as we are
      concerned, we happily appreciate the important and
      permanent efforts Your Holiness is making to the
      benefit of the Latin Catholic Church and, beyond it,
      to promote the Christian unity in the contemporary

      In the same spirit inviting to closeness and
      understanding between the two Churches, Pope John Paul
      II prayed in Romanian to God to be always by Romania�s
      side and also uttered words of high appreciation of
      his historic visit to Bucharest, of the warm welcome
      and atmosphere, of the enthusiastic and hopeful
      response on behalf of the young people.

      A special moment of the visit of the Patriarch to
      Vatican was the signing of the common declaration on
      Sunday at noon, the first act of this kind established
      between a Pontiff Sovereign and an Orthodox Patriarch,
      as observers reckon. �Our meeting - the declaration
      reads, among other - strengthens our commitment to
      praying and working towards a complete unity of all
      Jesus Christ�s disciples. Our ardent aim and desire is
      to achieve a plenary communion, which is not
      absorption, but a merger in truth and love. This is
      one irreversible way with no alternative provided;
      this is the way of the Church of Christ�.

      In the common declaration, where the phrase of
      �sister-Churches� is used again after quite a long
      time, the Sovereign Pontiff and Patriarch Teoctist
      call upon the parties involved to get past the hurdles
      emerging between the Christian communities in Romania,
      by means of a honest dialogue, pointing out that those
      disagreements had been generated during the
      totalitarian communist regime. �Our relationship must
      be the mirrored image of a genuine and deep communion
      in Christ, which exists between ourselves, but is not
      yet complete�, reads the Declaration, pointing out
      that the common belief-based martyrdoms during the
      lapses of oppression of the past century were a embryo
      of hope.

      The two heads of Church concurrently express their
      concerns about the difficult times encountered by the
      International Catholic-Orthodox Theological Dialogue
      Commission at the late, stating their wish to fructify
      any initiative assessed as being able to lead to the
      re-launch of the work of that forum. �We are bound by
      this duty if we want the theological dialogue to
      become the strongest assertion of the common wish to
      deepen the communion to stand up to this current state
      of dissipation, it is being affirmed in the
      declaration, with the specification that the expansion
      of the European unity towards the Centre and East of
      the continent is a challenge Christians from both East
      and West need to face together.

      The common Declaration was signed upon the end of the
      private audience the Sovereign Pontiff granted to the
      Patriarch, followed by a meeting in the plenum of the
      delegations of the two Churches. On that occasion, the
      two high clergymen gave addresses where they expressed
      their concerns about the proselytism manifestations
      the two historical Churches are being faced with. The
      meeting was extremely warm, towards the end the two
      heads of Churches exchanging gifts. Within a ceremony
      held on Friday afternoon, at the San Giovanni in
      Laterano Church, the Saint Sylvester Church from Rome,
      through Cardinal Camillo Ruini, donated part of the
      relics of Saint Sylvester of Rome to the Bucharest
      Parish of Saint Sylvester, through Patriarch Teoctist.
      �We want Bucharest and Rome twinned by Saint
      Sylvester, the saint who took Christians out of Rome�s
      catacombs�, said Cardinal Ruini, who handed into the
      Patriarch the authenticity certificates of the relics.

      On Sunday afternoon, Patriarch Teoctist travelled to
      Milan, where he met up with the Romanian Orthodox
      Christian community from the North of Italy. He is due
      back in Bucharest on Monday. Although the fruits of
      the visit made by the Patriarch of the Romanian
      Orthodox Church to Vatican will only become obvious in
      time, among the circles of observers from Vatican the
      special importance it carries as to the dialogue and
      continuous process of tightening of relations - not at
      all easy, there is no argument about that - of the two
      sister - Churches is being already evinced.

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