Istanbul (Agenzia Fides) - The path to full Christian unity has not stopped and must be continued with tenacity, realism and "full trust in Providence" precisely because it is not based on a sterile "ecumenical utopia" but rather represents "the will of our Lord". This is emphasized by the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, on the occasion of the patronal feast of the apostle Andrew, celebrated yesterday, November 30. In his speech, delivered at the end of the divine liturgy, the Ecumenical Patriarch thanked the Vatican delegation led by Cardinal Kurt Koch (Prefect of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity), for visiting Istanbul for the feast of St. Andrew despite the difficulties of the pandemic. The Patriarch stressed that precisely in 2020 exactly forty years have passed since the beginning of the official theological dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, which began in 1980 with the meeting in Patmos and Rhodes and which pursued "the restoration of full communion" based on "the unity of faith according to the common experience and tradition of the early Church", which "should find its full expression in the common celebration of the Eucharist".
The desired unity of Christians – according to the Patriarch in his speech - was at this time also a fruitful gift for all of humanity in the face of social and moral crises all over the world, which threaten the stability of societies, and "not to break identity and the Christian dimension in ecclesial life". The Church of Christ must not adapt "the divine moral and anthropological principles" to the ‘alternative decisions’ of modern secularized civilization". Patriarch Bartholomew highlights that the life of the Church itself is "an indestructible answer to the questions of anthropology and morality". For this reason, according to the Patriarch, in this historical phase "the formulation of a generally accepted Christian anthropology and the practical respect for its principles will be an important support for the course of relations between our churches". In this regard, Patriarch Bartholomew, confirmed this in several passages in his fraternal pastoral harmony with Pope Francis and specifically quoted the recent papal Encyclical "Fratelli Tutti": "We support the initiative" said the Ecumenical Patriarch "which promotes peace and change. We share the philanthropic message of the Church by promoting brotherhood and solidarity, social justice and respect for human rights. We are involved in the effort to address the causes and consequences of the great contemporary crisis of refugees and immigration. We are shocked by the tragic episodes of violence in the name of God and religion. This reveals once again the value of interreligious dialogue, peace and cooperation between religions".
A delegation from Ukraine, led by Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, also took part in the liturgy in honor of the Apostle Andrew. In greeting the Ukrainian delegation, Patriarch Bartholomew confirmed his intention to visit Ukraine in 2021, on the 30th anniversary of the country’s independence. (GV) (Agenzia Fides,1/12/2020)