Pope Benedict on RC/Orthodox Relations
"The pallium is an expression of our apostolic mission. It is an expression of our communion, which has its visible greatness in the Petrine ministry. Linked with the unity, as well as with the apostolicity, is the Petrine ministry, which gathers visibly the Church of all parts and of all times, defending in this way each one of us from sliding into false autonomies, which too easily are transformed into internal particularizations of the Church and can so compromise her internal independence. Together with this we do not want to forget that the meaning of all the functions and ministries is, at the end, that "we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ," so that the body of Christ will grow "and build itself up in love" (Ephesians 4:13,16).
In this perspective I greet from my heart and with gratitude the delegation of the Orthodox Church of Constantinople, which is sent by ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, to whom I address a cordial remembrance. Led by Metropolitan Ioannis, it has come to our feast and participates in our celebration. Even if we still do not agree on the question of the interpretation and of the capacity of the Petrine ministry, we are however together in the apostolic succession, we are profoundly united with the others by the episcopal ministry and by the sacrament of the priesthood and we confess together the faith of the apostles as it is given in Scripture and as it is interpreted in the great Councils.
In this hour of the world, full of skepticism and doubts but rich in the desire for God, we acknowledge again our common mission to witness together Christ the Lord and, on the basis of that unity that is already given to us, to help the world believe. And we entreat the Lord with all our heart to guide us to full unity so that the splendor of the truth, which alone can create unity, will again become visible in the world."
The entire homily may be found here. But that is not all. Zenit also reports that the Pope pushed ahead on Thusday during an audience with the Orthodox delegation:
"During today's audience, Benedict XVI thanked Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, as "he is dedicating himself to reactivate the work of the [Catholic-Orthodox international mixed commission]." "It is my firm determination to support and encourage this work," the Pope said. "The theological search, which must address complex questions and find solutions that are not reductive, is a serious commitment, from which we cannot exempt ourselves. If we cannot ignore that the division makes less effective the most holy cause of preaching the Gospel to every creature, how can we exempt ourselves from the task of examining our differences with clarity and good will, addressing them with the profound conviction that they be resolved?"
Benedict XVI added that "the unity we seek is neither absorption nor fusion, but respect for the multiform fullness of the Church which, according to the will of her founder, Jesus Christ, must always be one, holy, catholic and apostolic." Finally, the Bishop of Rome manifested the richness that the Eastern Churches contribute, in particular the Orthodox, to the Catholic Church itself. Quoting the Second Vatican Council decree on ecumenism, "Unitatis Redintegratio," Benedict XVI concluded: "It is hardly surprising, then, if from time to time one tradition has come nearer to a full appreciation of some aspects of a mystery of revelation than the other, or has expressed it to better advantage. In such cases, these various theological expressions are to be considered often as mutually complementary rather than conflicting."
In another piece today, Zenit also reported that the Pope quoted the Second Vatican Council's dogmatic constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium. "Benedict XVI said: "Within the Church particular Churches hold a rightful place; these Churches retain their own traditions, without in any way opposing the primacy of the Chair of Peter, which presides over the whole assembly of charity and protects legitimate differences, while at the same time assuring that such differences do not hinder unity but rather contribute toward it." Because of this, the Holy Father said he hoped that "the Petrine ministry of the Bishop of Rome is not seen as a stumbling block but as a support on the journey toward unity." After praying the Angelus, the Pope and several members of the Roman Curia lunched in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, the Vatican guesthouse, with the Orthodox delegation from Constantinople."