- Mass in the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit: the Church shows fidelity to the Holy Spirit when she does not seek to control or tame Him
- Prayer at the Ecumenical Patriarchate: brothers in hope of Jesus resurrected
- Francis participates in the Divine Liturgy on the Solemnity of St. Andrew, patron of the Church of Constantinople
- Joint declaration of Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomaios I: “We call on all religious leaders to pursue and strengthen interreligious dialogue”
Mass in the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit: the Church shows fidelity to the Holy Spirit when she does not seek to control or tame Him
Vatican City, 30 November 2014 (VIS) – Early yesterday afternoon, Pope Francis visited the Latin Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, opened for worship in 1846. In the courtyard there is a statue of Pope Benedict XV, erected by the Turks in 1919 during the Pope's lifetime, to thank him for his efforts in favour of the Turkish victims of the First World War. It bears the inscription: “To the great Pope of the world's tragic hour, Benedict XV, benefactor of the people, without discrimination of nationality or religion, a token of gratitude from the Orient”. During his papacy, Armenian Christians were massacred in the Ottoman Empire, and Benedict XV used every means available to him – words, humanitarian aid and diplomatic activity – to bring an end to the slaughter.
Pope Francis celebrated an inter-ritual Mass with prayers in Armenian, Turkish, Aramaic (Chaldean rite), Syro-Turkish, Italian, French, English and Spanish , attended by the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomaios I, the Syro-Catholic Patriarch Ignacio III Youna, the patriarchal Armenian apostolic vicar of Istanbul, Archbishop Aram Ateshian, the Syro-Orthodox Metropolitan of Istanbul Filuksinos Yusf Cetin and other representatives of various evangelical confessions.
“In the Gospel”, explained Pope Francis, “Jesus shows himself to be the font from which those who thirst for salvation draw upon, as the Rock from whom the Father brings forth living waters for all who believe in him. In openly proclaiming this prophecy in Jerusalem, Jesus heralds the gift of the Holy Spirit whom the disciples will receive after his glorification, that is, after his death and resurrection. The Holy Spirit is the soul of the Church. He gives life, he brings forth different charisms which enrich the people of God and, above all, he creates unity among believers: from the many he makes one body, the Body of Christ. The Church’s whole life and mission depend on the Holy Spirit; he fulfils all things”.
The profession of faith itself, as Saint Paul reminds us in today’s first reading, “is only possible because it is prompted by the Holy Spirit: 'No one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit'. When we pray, it is because the Holy Spirit inspires prayer in our heart. When we break the cycle of our self-centredness, and move beyond ourselves and go out to encounter others, to listen to them and help them, it is the Spirit of God who impels us to do so. When we find within a hitherto unknown ability to forgive, to love someone who doesn’t love us in return, it is the Spirit who has taken hold of us. When we move beyond mere self-serving words and turn to our brothers and sisters with that tenderness which warms the heart, we have indeed been touched by the Holy Spirit”.
“It is true”, observed the Pontiff, “that the Holy Spirit brings forth different charisms in the Church, which at first glance, may seem to create disorder. Under His guidance, however, they constitute an immense richness, because the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of unity, which is not the same thing as uniformity. Only the Holy Spirit is able to kindle diversity, multiplicity and, at the same time, bring about unity. When we try to create diversity, but are closed within our own particular and exclusive ways of seeing things, we create division. When we try to create unity through our own human designs, we end up with uniformity and homogenisation. If we let ourselves be led by the Spirit, however, richness, variety and diversity will never create conflict, because the Spirit spurs us to experience variety in the communion of the Church.
“The diversity of members and charisms is harmonised in the Spirit of Christ, Whom the Father sent and whom He continues to send, in order to achieve unity among believers. The Holy Spirit brings unity to the Church: unity in faith, unity in love, unity in interior life. The Church and other Churches and ecclesial communities are called to let themselves be guided by the Holy Spirit, and to remain always open, docile and obedient”.
He continued, “Ours is a hopeful perspective, but one which is also demanding. The temptation is always within us to resist the Holy Spirit, because He takes us out of our comfort zone and unsettles us; He makes us get up and drives the Church forward. It is always easier and more comfortable to settle in our sedentary and unchanging ways. In truth, the Church shows her fidelity to the Holy Spirit in as much as she does not try to control or tame Him. We Christians become true missionary disciples, able to challenge consciences, when we throw off our defensiveness and allow ourselves to be led by the Spirit. He is freshness, imagination and newness”.
Our defensiveness is evident “when we are entrenched within our ideas and our own strengths – in which case we slip into Pelagianism – or when we are ambitious or vain. These defensive mechanisms prevent us from truly understanding other people and from opening ourselves to a sincere dialogue with them. But the Church, flowing from Pentecost, is given the fire of the Holy Spirit, which does not so much fill the mind with ideas, but inflames the heart; she is moved by the breath of the Spirit which does not transmit a power, but rather an ability to serve in love, a language which everyone is able to understand. In our journey of faith and fraternal living, the more we allow ourselves to be humbly guided by the Spirit of the Lord, the more we will overcome misunderstandings, divisions, and disagreements and be a credible sign of unity and peace”.
The Pope extended his embrace “with this joyful conviction” to all those present at the Mass, and expressed his gratitude to the representatives of the Protestant communities, who joined in prayer with the Catholic faithful for this celebration. He also greeted the Armenian Patriarch, His Beatitude Mesrob II, who was unable to attend.
“Brothers and sisters”, he concluded, “let us turn our thoughts to the Virgin Mary, Mother of God. With her, she who prayed with the Apostles in the Upper Room as they awaited Pentecost, let us pray to the Lord asking him to send his Holy Spirit into our hearts and to make us witnesses of his Gospel in all the world”.
Prayer at the Ecumenical Patriarchate: brothers in hope of Jesus resurrected
Vatican City, 30 November 2014 (VIS) – After celebrating Holy Mass in the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, Francis transferred at midday to the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Phanar, the world centre of Orthodoxy.
The Orthodox Church has 300 million faithful, present especially in Eastern and Northern Europe, along the north-east coast of the Mediterranean and in the Middle East. It consists of various patriarchal Churches who maintain their autonomy while remaining linked to each other in a spirit of faith. The Ecumenical Patriarchate is the “primus inter pares” with respect to the other Orthodox patriarchates, and co-ordinates their activities. Its ecclesiastical jurisdiction includes not only Istanbul, but extends also to four other Turkish dioceses, Mount Athos, Crete, Patmos and the Islands of the Dodecanese and, following emigration, dioceses in Central and Western Europe, the Americas, Pakistan and Japan. Finally, it is the point of reference for Orthodox faithful throughout the world in territories not under the direct jurisdiction of the other Orthodox patriarchates. For centuries, the seat of the Patriarchate was next to the Cathedral of Hagia Sophia. Following the fall of Constantinople in 1453, it was transferred from 1601 to the quarter of Phanar. The Ecumenical Patriarch is His Holiness Bartholomaios I, whose commitment to inter-orthodox cooperation and ecumenical dialogue is well-known, as well as his interest in the protection of the environment, earning him the moniker “the green Patriarch”.
The Pope was received by the Patriarch in the Church of St. George, where an ecumenical liturgy took place in which both prayed for the unity of God's holy Churches. After Bartholomaios' discourse, Pope Francis addressed those present.
“Each evening brings a mixed feeling of gratitude for the day which is ending and of yearning trust before the oncoming night. This evening my heart is full of gratitude to God who allows me to be here in prayer with Your Holiness and with this sister Church after an eventful day during my Apostolic Visit. At the same time my heart awaits the day which we have already begun liturgically: the Feast of the Apostle Saint Andrew, Patron of this Church. In the words of the prophet Zachariah, the Lord gives us anew in this evening prayer, the foundation that sustains our moving forward from one day to the next, the solid rock upon which we advance together in joy and hope. The foundation rock is the Lord’s promise: 'Behold, I will save my people from the countries of the east and from the countries of the west… in faithfulness and in righteousness'.
“Yes, my venerable and dear Brother Bartholomaios, as I express my heartfelt 'thank you' for your fraternal welcome, I sense that our joy is greater because its source is from beyond; it is not in us, not in our commitment, not in our efforts – that are certainly necessary – but in our shared trust in God’s faithfulness which lays the foundation for the reconstruction of his temple that is the Church. 'For there shall be a sowing of peace'; truly, a sowing of joy. It is the joy and the peace that the world cannot give, but which the Lord Jesus promised to his disciples and, as the Risen One, bestowed upon them in the power of the Holy Spirit”.
He continued, “Andrew and Peter heard this promise; they received this gift. They were blood brothers, yet their encounter with Christ transformed them into brothers in faith and charity. In this joyful evening, at this prayer vigil, I want to emphasise this; they became brothers in hope. What a grace, Your Holiness, to be brothers in the hope of the Risen Lord! What a grace, and what a responsibility, to walk together in this hope, sustained by the intercession of the holy Apostles and brothers, Andrew and Peter! And to know that this shared hope does non deceive us because it is founded, not upon us or our poor efforts, but rather upon God’s faithfulness”.
“With this joyful hope, filled with gratitude and eager expectation, I extend to Your Holiness and to all present, and to the Church of Constantinople, my warm and fraternal best wishes on the Feast of your holy Patron”.
Francis and Bartholomaios then recited the Lord's Prayer together in Latin and imparted their blessing, the Pope in Latin and the Patriarch in Greek, after which they retired to the second floor for a private meeting.
Francis participates in the Divine Liturgy on the Solemnity of St. Andrew, patron of the Church of Constantinople
Vatican City, 30 November 2014 (VIS) – Pope Francis' final day in Turkey began with a meeting, early in the morning at the Pontifical Representation in Istanbul, of the Chief Rabbi of Turkey, Ishak Haleva. The Jewish community in Turkey, consisting of around 25 thousand people, is numerically the second largest in an Islamic country, following that of Iran. The most substantial Jewish settlement in Turkey dates from the period of the Spanish Inquisition (1492). At the beginning of the nineteenth century there were around 100 thousand, but this figure dropped drastically as a result of emigration to America and Israel. Pope Benedict XVI also met with the Chief Rabbi during his trip to Turkey in 2006.
Following the celebration and after listening to the Patriarch's words, the Pope addressed those present, recalling how as Archbishop of Buenos Aires he had frequently participated in the Divine Liturgy of the city's Orthodox communities, but “today, the Lord has given me the singular grace to be present in this Patriarchal Church of Saint George for the celebration of the Feast of the holy Apostle Andrew, the first-called, the brother of Saint Peter, and the Patron Saint of the Ecumenical Patriarchate”.
He continued, “Meeting each other, seeing each other face to face, exchanging the embrace of peace, and praying for each other, are all essential aspects of our journey towards the restoration of full communion. All of this precedes and always accompanies that other essential aspect of this journey, namely, theological dialogue. An authentic dialogue is, in every case, an encounter between persons with a name, a face, a past, and not merely a meeting of ideas.
“This is especially true for us Christians, because for us the truth is the person of Jesus Christ”, observed the Pontiff. “The example of Saint Andrew, who with another disciple accepted the invitation of the Divine Master, 'Come and see', and 'stayed with him that day', shows us plainly that the Christian life is a personal experience, a transforming encounter with the One who loves us and who wants to save us. In addition, the Christian message is spread thanks to men and women who are in love with Christ, and cannot help but pass on the joy of being loved and saved. Here again, the example of the apostle Andrew is instructive. After following Jesus to his home and spending time with Him, Andrew 'first found his brother Simon, and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (meaning Christ). He brought him to Jesus'. It is clear, therefore, that not even dialogue among Christians can prescind from this logic of personal encounter”.
Therefore, “it is not by chance that the path of reconciliation and peace between Catholics and Orthodox was, in some way, ushered in by an encounter, by an embrace between our venerable predecessors, Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras and Pope Paul VI, which took place fifty years ago in Jerusalem. Your Holiness and I wished to commemorate that moment when we met recently in the same city where our Lord Jesus Christ died and rose.
“By happy coincidence, my visit falls a few days after the fiftieth anniversary of the promulgation of Unitatis Redintegratio, the Second Vatican Council’s Decree on Christian Unity. This is a fundamental document which opened new avenues for encounter between Catholics and their brothers and sisters of other Churches and ecclesial communities. In particular, in that Decree the Catholic Church acknowledges that the Orthodox Churches 'possess true sacraments, above all – by apostolic succession – the priesthood and the Eucharist, whereby they are still joined to us in closest intimacy'. The Decree goes on to state that in order to guard faithfully the fullness of the Christian tradition and to bring to fulfilment the reconciliation of Eastern and Western Christians, it is of the greatest importance to preserve and support the rich patrimony of the Eastern Churches. This regards not only their liturgical and spiritual traditions, but also their canonical disciplines, sanctioned as they are by the Fathers and by Councils, which regulate the lives of these Churches”.
The Pope emphasised the importance of reaffirming respect for this principle “as an essential condition, accepted by both, for the restoration of full communion, which does not signify the submission of one to the other, or assimilation. Rather, it means welcoming all the gifts that God has given to each, thus demonstrating to the entire world the great mystery of salvation accomplished by Christ the Lord through the Holy Spirit. I want to assure each one of you here that, to reach the desired goal of full unity, the Catholic Church does not intend to impose any conditions except that of the shared profession of faith. Further, I would add that we are ready to seek together, in light of Scriptural teaching and the experience of the first millennium, the ways in which we can guarantee the needed unity of the Church in the present circumstances. The one thing that the Catholic Church desires, and that I seek as Bishop of Rome, 'the Church which presides in charity', is communion with the Orthodox Churches. Such communion will always be the fruit of that love which 'has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us', a fraternal love which expresses the spiritual and transcendent bond which unites us as disciples of the Lord”.
In today’s world, “voices are being raised which we cannot ignore and which implore our Churches to live deeply our identity as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. The first of these voices is that of the poor. In the world, there are too many women and men who suffer from severe malnutrition, growing unemployment, the rising numbers of unemployed youth, and from increasing social exclusion. These can give rise to criminal activity and even the recruitment of terrorists. We cannot remain indifferent before the cries of our brothers and sisters. These ask of us not only material assistance – needed in so many circumstances – but above all,our help to defend their dignity as human persons, so that they can find the spiritual energy to become once again protagonists in their own lives. They ask us to fight, in the light of the Gospel, the structural causes of poverty: inequality, the shortage of dignified work and housing, and the denial of their rights as members of society and as workers. As Christians we are called together to eliminate that globalisation of indifference which today seems to reign supreme, while building a new civilisation of love and solidarity”.
A second plea, he said, “comes from the victims of the conflicts in so many parts of our world. We hear this resoundingly here, because some neighbouring countries are scarred by an inhumane and brutal war. I think in a particular way of the numerous victims of the grotesque and senseless attack which recently killed and injured so many Muslims who were praying in a Mosque in Kano, Nigeria. Taking away the peace of a people, committing every act of violence – or consenting to such acts – especially when directed against the weakest and defenceless, is a profoundly grave sin against God, since it means showing contempt for the image of God which is in man. The cry of the victims of conflict urges us to move with haste along the path of reconciliation and communion between Catholics and Orthodox. Indeed, how can we credibly proclaim the Gospel of peace which comes from Christ, if there continues to be rivalry and disagreement between us?”
A third cry is that of young people. “Today, tragically, there are many young men and women who live without hope, overcome by mistrust and resignation. Many of the young, influenced by the prevailing culture, seek happiness solely in possessing material things and in satisfying their fleeting emotions. New generations will never be able to acquire true wisdom and keep hope alive unless we are able to esteem and transmit the true humanism which comes from the Gospel and from the Church’s age-old experience. It is precisely the young who today implore us to make progress towards full communion. I think for example of the many Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant youth who come together at meetings organised by the Taize community. They do this not because they ignore the differences which still separate us, but because they are able to see beyond them; they are able to embrace what is essential and what already unites us.
Pope Francis concluded by addressing Bartholomaios I: “We are already on the way, on the path towards full communion and already we can experience eloquent signs of an authentic, albeit incomplete union. This offers us reassurance and encourages us to continue on this journey. We are certain that along this journey we are helped by the intercession of the Apostle Andrew and his brother Peter, held by tradition to be the founders of the Churches of Constantinople and of Rome. We ask God for the great gift of full unity, and the ability to accept it in our lives. Let us never forget to pray for one another”.
Joint declaration of Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomaios I: “We call on all religious leaders to pursue and strengthen interreligious dialogue”
Vatican City, 30 November 2014 (VIS) – Following the Divine Liturgy, Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomaios I appeared on the balcony of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and blessed the faithful gathered in the street. Francis imparted the blessing in Latin, and Bartholomaios I in Greek. They subsequently ascended to the Throne Room where they signed and read the following joint Declaration:
“We, Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I,express our profound gratitude to God for the gift of this new encounter enabling us,in the presence of the members of the Holy Synod, the clergy and the faithful of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, to celebrate together the feast of Saint Andrew, the first–called and brother of the Apostle Peter. Our remembrance of the Apostles, who proclaimed the good news of the Gospel to the world through their preaching and their witness of martyrdom, strengthens in us the aspiration to continue to walk together in order to overcome, in love and in truth, the obstacles that divide us.
“On the occasion of our meeting in Jerusalem last May, in which we remembered the historical embrace of our venerable predecessors Pope Paul VI and the Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras, we signed a joint declaration. Today on the happy occasion of this further fraternal encounter, we wish to re–affirm together our shared intentions and concerns.
“We express our sincere and firm resolution, in obedience to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ, to intensify our efforts to promote the full unity of all Christians, and above all between Catholics and Orthodox. As well, we intend to support the theological dialogue promoted by the Joint International Commission, instituted exactly thirty–five years ago by the Ecumenical Patriarch Dimitrios and Pope John Paul II here at the Phanar, and which is currently dealing with the most difficult questions that have marked the history of our division and that require careful and detailed study. To this end, we offer the assurance of our fervent prayer as Pastors of the Church, asking our faithful to join us in praying 'that all may be one, that the world may believe'.
“We express our common concern for the current situation in Iraq, Syria and the whole Middle East. We are united in the desire for peace and stability and in the will to promote the resolution of conflicts through dialogue and reconciliation. While recognising the efforts already being made to offer assistance to the region, at the same time, we call on all those who bear responsibility for the destiny of peoples to deepen their commitment to suffering communities, and to enable them, including the Christian ones, to remain in their native land. We cannot resign ourselves to a Middle East without Christians, who have professed the name of Jesus there for two thousand years. Many of our brothers and sisters are being persecuted and have been forced violently from their homes. It even seems that the value of human life has been lost, that the human person no longer matters and may be sacrificed to other interests. And, tragically, all this is met by the indifference of many. As Saint Paul reminds us, 'If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together'. This is the law of the Christian life, and in this sense we can say that there is also an ecumenism of suffering. Just as the blood of the martyrs was a seed of strength and fertility for the Church, so too the sharing of daily sufferings can become an effective instrument of unity. The terrible situation of Christians and all those who are suffering in the Middle East calls not only for our constant prayer, but also for an appropriate response on the part of the international community.
“The grave challenges facing the world in the present situation require the solidarity of all people of good will, and so we also recognise the importance of promoting a constructive dialogue with Islam based on mutual respect and friendship. Inspired by common values and strengthened by genuine fraternal sentiments, Muslims and Christians are called to work together for the sake of justice, peace and respect for the dignity and rights of every person, especially in those regions where they once lived for centuries in peaceful coexistence and now tragically suffer together the horrors of war. Moreover, as Christian leaders, we call on all religious leaders to pursue and to strengthen interreligious dialogue and to make every effort to build a culture of peace and solidarity between persons and between peoples. We also remember all the people who experience the sufferings of war. In particular, we pray for peace in Ukraine, a country of ancient Christian tradition, while we call upon all parties involved to pursue the path of dialogue and of respect for international law in order to bring an end to the conflict and allow all Ukrainians to live in harmony.
“Our thoughts turn to all the faithful of our Churches throughout the world, whom we greet, entrusting them to Christ our Saviour, that they may be untiring witnesses to the love of God. We raise our fervent prayer that the Lord may grant the gift of peace in love and unity to the entire human family.
“'May the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you'”.
After the signing of the Declaration, the Pope, the Ecumenical Patriarch and various members of the respective delegations lunched together on the third floor of the Phanar.
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