Orthodox Says Dialogue Has Achieved "Bond of Peace and Love"

Bartholomew I Sends a Letter to John Paul II

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VATICAN CITY, JULY 2, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The Orthodox patriarch of Constantinople says that theological dialogue between Orthodox and Catholics can go forward because of the "bond of peace and love" that is in place.



In a letter to John Paul II on the occasion of the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Patriarch Bartholomew I said that "we have achieved the bond of peace and love, which is the necessary foundation for progress of the theological dialogue, which is carried on between our two Churches."

The letter was sent with the Orthodox delegation which participated in the Mass presided over by the Pope on Sunday, the solemnity of the two apostles.

The patriarch's letter, published Tuesday by the Vatican press office, notes the "fact that it has not yet become possible to achieve the unity of faith, which is the prerequisite of joint worship." This, it says, "casts a shadow on the joy of the feast and saddens our modesty."

However, Peter's example "is always timely, and particularly in our times, in which all of us have come to understand that the separate paths of the different Christian confessions lead to an impasse," the text reads.

Patriarch Bartholomew I -- regarded as "first among equals" in the Orthodox world -- also alluded to St. Peter's Letters, which contain "excellent and very concentrated counsels to the faithful."

In particular, the apostle's invitation to "purify" the soul by "obedience to the truth through the Spirit" is a teaching that is always timely, especially in this phase of the ecumenical dialogue, the patriarch said.

The patriarch ended his letter to the Pope expressing his "sincere fraternal affection" and hoping at the same time that "the Lord may grant us, through the intercessions of the" Apostle Peter "to be built as living stones into a spiritual dwelling, a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ."