Jan 8, 2014 / 12:06 am
Pope Francis’ pilgrimage to the Holy Land, to be held in May, will center on his encounter with Patriarch Bartholomew I, the Eastern Orthodox Archbishop of Constantinople, and their discussions on ecumenism.
Announcing the trip Jan. 5, Pope Francis said its “principal goal” is “to commemorate the historic meeting between Pope Paul VI and the Patriarch Athenagoras I, that occurred … 50 years ago today.”
That encounter was the beginning of ecumenical dialogue between the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches, and led to a joint declaration issued in 1965 which declared the two leaders’ desire “to overcome their differences in order to be again ‘one’ as the Lord Jesus asked of his Father for them”, and which lifted the mutual excommunications of their predecessors issued in 1054, which profoundly contributed to the schism between Eastern Orthodoxy and Catholicism.
Pope Francis is visiting with Patriarch Bartholomew at the Patriarch’s request, which was made at the Roman Pontiff’s inaugural Mass on March 19. That was the first time the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople had attended such an event since 1054.
Following the Mass, Patriarch Bartholomew suggested that they visit the Holy Land together, commemorating and hopefully replicating the embrace between their predecessors; Pope Francis responded by embracing the Patriarch.
Pope Francis’ visit will take place May 24-26, where he and the Patriarch will celebrate an ecumenical meeting at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the site of Christ’s burial in Jerusalem, which is shared among Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Catholics.
In addition to visiting Jerusalem, Pope Francis will travel to Bethlehem, in Palestine, and to Amman, in Jordan.
Pope Francis’ good relations build with Patriarch Bartholomew build on those of his predecessors since Paul VI. …
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