VATICAN CITY (CNS): Pope John Paul II welcomed Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople to the Vatican and said it was time the Catholic and Orthodox Churches took a “leap forward” in resolving longstanding ecumenical problems.
The meeting on June 29 was the first in a series of Vatican ceremonies to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the historic embrace between Pope Paul VI and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras in Jerusalem in 1964.
Pope John Paul called the 1964 encounter “courageous” and said it should inspire similar steps today, at a time when ecumenical dialogue has been bogged down by local disagreements.
The international Catholic-Orthodox theological dialogue commission has not met since 2000 because of tensions between individual Orthodox Churches and local Catholic communities.
A joint statement signed on July 1 by the Pope and Patriarch Bartholomew said as the European Union moves to include more Eastern countries, members of both Churches should join in a common witness of the faith against terrorism, religious intolerance and attacks against human life.