Pope, Eastern Patriarchs and other brothers and sisters

This morning Pope Francis had a private audience with His Holiness, Bartholomew I, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, and Hilarian, the Patriarch of Moscow. Both are of the Orthodox churches.

The fact that this meeting even took place at this time is an extraordinary event. First, it is the first time that the Ecumenical Patriarch and other Eastern Orthodox bishops and patriarchs have attended the installation of a Roman Pontiff since the break which caused the Great Schism in 1054. Eastern Patriarchs and Popes have met before, but not in anyway taking part in a papal installation.

This is a marvelous gesture, and certainly a step forward, in our relations with our Eastern brothers and sisters. Hopefully, there will be translation of what was said in the special audience which was held later in the day for the delegations of religious leaders from the Orthodox world, as well as the Jewish, Protestant, Buddhist, Sikh, Hindu, Moslem and other faith groups.

It has also been reported that at the larger audience, the Pope’s chair was not raised, but was on the same level as the Patriarchs and others in attendance. In his remarks, it has been reported that the Holy Father referred to Bartholomew I, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, as “my brother Andrew.” This recognizes the Orthodox tradition of seeing St. Andrew and the primary missionary of the Eastern Church, and St. Peter for the Western Church.

I am sure that there will be lots more to come about this historic meeting and audience, and I will get it to you as soon as it is available.

These are extremely important events in the life of the Church.

Meanwhile, let us pray for a continued move for unity, especially between the Catholic and Orthodox churches.

The Concho Padre

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