Orthodox leader at pope inauguration ‘a sign of immense hope’

By ACNS staff
Posted Mar 18, 2013

[Anglican Communion News Service] The news that the leader of the Orthodox Church will attend the inauguration of the new pope is being described as an historic moment for Christianity.

According to a report in Asia News, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew’s decision to attend the March 19 installation mass in Rome is the first time such an event has taken place since the Great Schism of 1054.

The Rev. Alyson Barnett-Cowan, director for Unity, Faith and Order, facilitates the Anglican Communion’s global dialogues with
other Christian world communions. Speaking from Rome, she said, “It is a sign of immense hope for the unity of Christians everywhere that the Ecumenical Patriarch, the leader of the Orthodox Church, will attend the inauguration of Pope Francis, the first time since the split of Eastern and Western Christians over a thousand years ago.”

Barnett-Cowan is part of the official Anglican Communion delegation for the inauguration.

It is reported that 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 Orthodox Metropolitan Tarassios of Argentina, and Orthodox Metropolitan Gennadios of Sassima of Italy.

Relations between the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches have been improving since the Second Vatican Council through mutual visits, acts of friendship and theological dialogue.

Immediately following the election of Pope Francis on the evening of March 13, His All-Holiness wrote to Pope Francis: “In the joy and jubilation of Your election as the pastoral leader of Roman Catholic Christians throughout the world, we are communicating with Your Holiness in order to express to You and the devout faithful of Your blessed Church our wholehearted congratulations and sincerest salutations on this special day.

“Permit us also, on this historic occasion, to convey our unfeigned wishes and fervent prayers that your papal tenure may prove to be a source of peace in our world of turmoil and division, a refuge and consolation for our Lord’s poor and suffering brothers and sisters, as well as a continuation of our journey toward reconciliation and consolidation of the dialogue for the unity of our Sister Churches.

May God grant Your Holiness many years of healthy and fruitful ministry to serve His people with Your distinctive humility, simplicity, and charity.”


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Comments (3)

  1. Julian Malakar says:

    All we need Christian unity at this time of declining Christian faith and Christian prosecution in different parts of world. Western Church is facing with church scandal, dilemma with church doctrine resulting declining true Christians. Asian and African churches are facing physical prosecution at witnessing Jesus as Christ and Son of God in non-Christian countries. We need unified Church as Holy Trinity is united.

  2. Does this mean Pope Francis has (or has indicated he would) repent of the Roman Church’s transgressions which led to the Great Schism? Or, has the Greek Patriarch simply ignored this…if so for what purpose?

    Indeed, this presents an opportunity. There had been THREE new Popes elected in the past year: Coptic Pope, Antiochian Pope and Catholic Pope. God is trying to tell us something. Let us hear what the Spirit is saying to the Churches!

  3. Fr. Alexander Resnikoff says:

    It is a bit of a misnomer to call His Beatitude Bartholomew the ‘leader’ of the Orthodox Church. We have no papal leadership structure as maintained in the Roman Catholic Church. Each Patriarchate is autonomous and independent – though joined in communion by the Mystical Body of Christ (the Church) as expressed in a common Theological position regarding dogma.

    i.e. If you are Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox or Bulgarian Orthodox your Local Church affiliations in no way alters the teaching of Orthodoxy.

    Leaving aside troubling differences in Theology between the Orthodox and the RC; as ‘first-among-equals’ in the Orthodox world, Pat. Bartholomew would lose this title and primacy in the event of a union with the Roman Catholic Church.

    While we should love one another and pray for one another – I do not see a union with Rome occurring within our lifetimes.

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