Apostles' Unity Seen as Link for 2 Churches

Patriarch Points to Brotherhood of Peter and Andrew

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ISTANBUL, Turkey, DEC. 2, 2008 (Zenit.org).- The social, political and economic crisis has an answer, Christian leaders say: the common path toward full union between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.



This was the main point of the homilies of Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I and Cardinal Walter Kasper, the president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, during a joint celebration of the feast of St. Andrew on Sunday, L'Osservatore Romano reported today.

The patriarch of Constantinople recalled the meeting in Jerusalem between Pope Paul VI and then Patriarch Athenagoras I, which began the journey of dialogue between the two Churches.

He went on to refer to the brotherhood -- not only spiritual, but also physical, of the Apostles Peter and Andrew. This fact, he said, should be recalled by both Catholics and Orthodox so that both sides respect unity: "Because one cannot think of Peter and Andrew as separated."

"This bond between two apostles, which has a beginning of a biological nature, becomes also a spiritual legacy in the name of Our Lord and ends by constituting the link that unites the two Churches," the patriarch said.

He also affirmed: "It is necessary to cut the thorns that have wounded relations between the two Churches for a millennium, and take as a precious guide toward unity the spirit of the common tradition of the seven councils of the first millennium."

For his part, Cardinal Kasper declared that unity "is not an option, it is a duty to Our Lord."

The cardinal said after the visit that, though the path of dialogue between Orthodox and Catholics will not be short, it is coming along well, "because with the Orthodox, we have much in common."