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Pope Francis: message to Bartholomew, “synodality and primacy” open issues

“Synodality” and “primacy”: these are the two open issues in ecumenism, as Pope Francis wrote in his message to Bartholomew today on the occasion of the Feast of St Andrew. In his letter, Pope Francis took stock of the ecumenical journey so far, giving thanks for the advances made in the last few decades in the “process of dialogue” between Catholics and Orthodox who “have begun to recognize one another as brothers and sisters and to value each other’s gifts, and together have proclaimed the Gospel, served humanity and the cause of peace, promoted the dignity of the human being and the inestimable value of the family, and cared for those most in need, as well as creation, our common home”. The Pope said he was particularly grateful to the Joint International Commission for its “significant contribution to mutual understanding”, particularly in the recent document on “Synodality and Primacy in the First Millennium”. “Though many questions remain – Pope Francis conceded -, this shared reflection on the relationship between synodality and primacy in the first millennium can offer a sure foundation for discerning ways in which primacy may be exercised in the Church when all Christians of East and West are finally reconciled”. The Pontiff also expressed his appreciation for the recent meeting in Assisi in which “Christians and representatives of religious traditions gathered to offer a united appeal for peace throughout the world”: “a joyful opportunity – as the Pope called it – to deepen our friendship, which finds expression in a shared vision regarding the great questions that affect the life of the Church and of all society”.

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