Rorate Caeli

Pope meets Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
It is with profound gratitude and joy that I make this visit to the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem; a moment to which I have much looked forward.
I thank His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilus III for his kind words of fraternal greeting, which I warmly reciprocate. I also express to all of you my heartfelt gratitude for providing me with this opportunity to meet once again the many leaders of Churches and ecclesial communities present.
This morning I am mindful of the historic meetings that have taken place here in Jerusalem between my predecessor Pope Paul VI and the Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras I, and also between Pope John Paul II and His Beatitude Patriarch Diodoros. These encounters, including my visit today, are of great symbolic significance. They recall that the light of the East (cf. Is 60:1; Rev 21:10) has illumined the entire world from the very moment when a "rising sun" came to visit us (Lk 1:78) and they remind us too that from here the Gospel was preached to all nations.
Standing in this hallowed place, alongside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which marks the site where our crucified Lord rose from the dead for all humanity, and near the cenacle, where on the day of Pentecost "they were all together in one place" (Acts 2:1), who could not feel impelled to bring the fullness of goodwill, sound scholarship and spiritual desire to our ecumenical endeavors? I pray that our gathering today will give new impetus to the work of theological dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches, adding to the recent fruits of study documents and other joint initiatives.
Of particular joy for our Churches has been the participation of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, His Holiness Bartholomew I, at the recent Synod of Bishops in Rome dedicated to the theme: The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church. The warm welcome he received and his moving intervention were sincere expressions of the deep spiritual joy that arises from the extent to which communion is already present between our Churches. Such ecumenical experience bears clear witness to the link between the unity of the Church and her mission. Extending his arms on the Cross, Jesus revealed the fullness of his desire to draw all people to himself, uniting them together as one (cf. Jn 12:32). Breathing his Spirit upon us he revealed his power to enable us to participate in his mission of reconciliation (cf. Jn 19:30; 20:22-23). In that breath, through the redemption that unites, stands our mission! Little wonder, then, that it is precisely in our burning desire to bring Christ to others, to make known his message of reconciliation (cf. 2 Cor 5:19), that we experience the shame of our division. Yet, sent out into the world (cf. Jn 20:21), empowered by the unifying force of the Holy Spirit (ibid. v. 22), proclaiming the reconciliation that draws all to believe that Jesus is the Son of God (ibid. v. 31), we shall find the strength to redouble our efforts to perfect our communion, to make it complete, to bear united witness to the love of the Father who sends the Son so that the world may know his love for us (cf. Jn 17:23).
Some two thousand years ago, along these same streets, a group of Greeks put this request to Philip: "Sir, we should like to see Jesus" (Jn 12:21). It is a request made again of us today, here in Jerusalem, in the Holy Land, in the region and throughout the world. How do we respond? Is our response heard? Saint Paul alerts us to the gravity of our response: our mission to teach and preach. He says: "faith comes from hearing, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ" (Rm 10:17). It is imperative therefore that Christian leaders and their communities bear vibrant testimony to what our faith proclaims: the eternal Word, who entered space and time in this land, Jesus of Nazareth, who walked these streets, through his words and actions calls people of every age to his life of truth and love.
Dear friends, while encouraging you to proclaim joyfully the Risen Lord, I wish also to recognize the work to this end of the Heads of Christian communities, who meet together regularly in this city. It seems to me that the greatest service the Christians of Jerusalem can offer their fellow citizens is the upbringing and education of a further generation of well-formed and committed Christians, earnest in their desire to contribute generously to the religious and civic life of this unique and holy city. The fundamental priority of every Christian leader is the nurturing of the faith of the individuals and families entrusted to his pastoral care. This common pastoral concern will ensure that your regular meetings are marked by the wisdom and fraternal charity necessary to support one another and to engage with both the joys and the particular difficulties which mark the lives of your people. I pray that the aspirations of the Christians of Jerusalem will be understood as being concordant with the aspirations of all its inhabitants, whatever their religion: a life of religious freedom and peaceful coexistence and - for young people in particular - unimpeded access to education and employment, the prospect of suitable housing and family residency, and the chance to benefit from and contribute to economic stability.
Your Beatitude, I thank you again for your kindness in inviting me here, together with the other guests. Upon each of you and the communities you represent, I invoke an abundance of God’s blessings of fortitude and wisdom! May you all be strengthened by the hope of Christ which does not disappoint!
Benedict XVI
May 15, 2009
Note: The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem has in recent decades been the most anti-Catholic among all the Orthodox Patriarchates.
H/t for picture to


Anonymous said...

That all nice but what has that gotten us? 40 plus years of dialouge and they still are OUT OF THE TRUE CHURCH.

Iakovos said...

And perhaps one of the reasons for your complaint, my friend Anonymous, is your strident triumphalism too typical in the past of the Roman Church -- let us have more of the Catholic church which our good Pope is such a wonderful example.

Dan Hunter said...

I shall stick with Peter and his Barque.

New Catholic said...

Great speech!

Iakovos said...

The more I remain in the Barque, the more I see how lovingly it is has been built and how enormous are its rooms, one leading after another, endlessly it seems. The so called Barque of Peter does not merely sail from the port of Rome, but all over the world while never losing its distinctive Ortho-Catholic character.

Gideon Ertner said...

"That all nice but what has that gotten us? 40 plus years of dialouge and they still are OUT OF THE TRUE CHURCH."

Are you seriously suggesting that no progress has been made? Why, the simple fact that HH is able to come to a Greek Patriarchal cathedral and deliver an address is an immense improvement on the way things were 40 years ago.

One Orthodox Bishop open to Rome has stated, "We moved apart gradually, over many centuries; we will also move closer gradually." Unity isn't going to be restored in one day. In fact, it didn't even start 40 years ago but has been a process which has been going on ever since the break occurred; cf., for example, the Council of Florence.

Portions of Eastern churches (and sometimes whole churches) have gradually been brought into communion with Rome, starting with the Maronites and continuing with the Ukrainians, the Malabars, the Chaldeans, the Syrians etc. But in the past, these reconciliations have depended much upon conversions of individual Bishops/Patriarchs, whereas the theological dialogue of today is designed to bring about corporate reunion. To my mind, this can only be achieved by gradually making the Easterners accept that Western theological traditions are not antithetical but rather supplemental to Eastern ones. This will take a long time, but I think we are beginning to see good fruits of it.

Carlos Antonio Palad said...

"Why, the simple fact that HH is able to come to a Greek Patriarchal cathedral and deliver an address is an immense improvement on the way things were 40 years ago..."

Yes. And take note that this is a warm meeting not just with any Orthodox patriarch, but with the head of the most anti-Catholic of the Orthodox patriarchates.

I hope that Kirill of Moscow is next in line.

Anonymous said...

Could someone who has followed the papal trip closely help me sort out an issue? I would very much appreciate it. In the past, the S.S.P.X and other traditionalists have criticised John Paul II and Benedict XVI for praying in non-Catholic places or with non-Catholic religious people.

I am trying to determine if Benedict XVI is setting a new policy here. The first principle, never violated by John Paul II, is that a Pope or bishop should never pray the *same* prayers together with infidels. As far as I know, Benedict XVI has never violated this principle. Under pre-conciliar rules, I believe that a Pope would not pray together with even other Christians, but this has gone by the board for some time now.

The second principle was that a Pope or bishop should never pray concurrently with a non-Christian, the two (or more) using different prayers, each according to his own religion. This 'principle' has been broken by John Paul II (esp. at Assisi, 1986) and, perhaps, by Benedict XVI when he visited the Blue Mosque in Turkey. Of course, I am not claiming that this is a true principle here. That is debateable.

In the third case, a pope or bishop should not offer public prayers at a place dedicated to non-Christian worship. For example, he should not offer public prayers in a synagogue or mosque or at an ashram. Of course, John Paul II and his successor have both done this. But Benedict XVI's prayer at the Wailing Wall might be different, since the prayer was private and the site is arguably holy to Christians as well.

In regard to this papal trip, as far as I can see, Benedict XVI said only a private prayer at the Wailing Wall and not concurrently with the prayers of Jews, nor sharing a prayer with them. Is this correct?

At the mosque in Jordan, he apparently walked on a carpet through a mosque but did not stop to pray there, at least not by any sign made public.

I am confused about the case of the Dome of the Rock. He did remove his shoes before entering but no one has commented on whether or not he prayed inside. Does anyone know?

I don't worry about the Holocaust museum because that is not a religious site and, as far as I know, he did not pray together with others.

I imagine that he did share prayers in non-Catholic Christian places. Comments?

In the case of the Blue Mosque in Turkey, I believe that the Pope prayed silently while the Muslim clerics prayed aloud. I have not heard that the Pope prostrated himself Muslim-style, although one cantankerous but untrustworthy website I've seen suggested otherwise.

I am trying to see if Benedict XVI is departing in any way from the policies of John Paul II, particularly in light of criticism from the S.S.P.X.


papabear said...

Is the Dome of the Rock considered holy only by the Muslims? Or do non-Muslims go to venerate the site because it was the location of the Temple and Abraham's sacrifice?

beng said...

To Iakovos:

Triumphalism? Is it really that or is it the same mantra propagated by the Jews on holocaust?

What I mean is just saying that the Orthodox should submit to Pastor Aeternus if they want to be saved then suddenly they say it's triumphalist.

It seems that every time we (Catholics) try to get them into full communion, they shout "triumphalist."

Sounds like the jews with their Holocaust to me (how anyone who question their "superdogma" [ie. the holocaust] suddenly get labeled heretics, literally [eg. +Williamson]).

I've seen one too many Eastern Catholics who deny Pastor Aeternus. (and I also see many who defend it zealously. Sometime against their own Eastern Catholics brethren. May God bless them).

Anonymous said...

It needs to be remembered that Theophilos became Patriarch of Jerusalem during an internal upheaval and is widely considered to be the imposed puppet of Bartholomeos of Constantinople. The latter in turn is widely considered to be practically an Eastern Rite Catholic/Uniate. The Greek Orthodox Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchre is not as sanguine towards the Roman Catholic Church as the diplomatic smiles of the Sacred Synod would appear. The common plight of all Christians in the Holy Land has caused more cooperation out of necessity than ever was the case in the past. It is purely pragmatic.

Anonymous said...

The Orthodox are not reluctant because of "triumphalism" but because of perceived Roman Catholic heresies, a whole stack of them. Patriarch Bartholomeos and those like him who endlessly speak of "dialogue" and "solidarity" are realistic enough to know that the Orthodox faithful will simply not follow them into any union with Rome. They remember the Council of Florence.

Ogard said...

"Under pre-conciliar rules, I believe that a Pope would not pray together with even other Christians, but this has gone by the board for some time now."

Regarding various meeting and gatherings of Christians in which Catholic participate, Instruction from the Holy Office, March 4,1950, says: "Although every sort of communicatio in sacris is to be avoided on all such conferences and meetings, it is not forbidden to open or close these gatherings with the common recitation of Lord's Prayer or some other prayer approved by the Catholic Church."

Iakovos said...

To "being":

Two points to keep in mind: 1) in my first post I confined the term "triumphalism" first to an individual, "anonymous", and, 2) when I associated with the RC Church, I said, "in the past...". As to of the rest of your comments, whose point is difficult for me to see,I do not follow the excursion into the tragedy of the Jewish Holocaust, (egads! Bishop Williamson, who is saved and who isn't, and the office of the Papacy.

God's speed (to heaven) on all us sinners.

Anonymous said...

On Ogard's reponse:

I had meant to refer to participation at non-Catholic places of worship, not to praying the Pater at conferences.

It used to be that laics could attend for social or state reasons but popes did not.


Ogard said...

The popes used to be cokooned in Vatican, and stood no chance to pray with anybody.

If a common prayer is ok at conferences - it was actually forbidden before the overruling 1950 - there is no reason why it should be excluded from churches, provided it contains nothing contrary to faith.

During the siege of Constantinople 1453 a common service was held in the Cathedral of Holy Wisdom. Are we to assume that the Catholics who participated ended in Hell because of it, when the city was sacked?

I doubt that the Western Church rule was ever taken seriouly by the Eastern Rite Catholics.

The union Councils of Lyon and Florence must have started with prayer or another service.

The basic doctrinal position taken by Vatican II is that the separated Christian Churches and Communities haven't abandoned everything but something, and that in various degree; so, what they have retained is still an element of union which should be sustained. They are still Catholics by what they have retained; better: they never ceased to be Catholic in that sense.