Patriarch Bartholomew: Christian martyrdom makes unity urgent
November 30, 2014
Calling Pope Francis his “beloved brother in Christ,” the head of the Orthodox Church, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I on Sunday recalled their gathering last May at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem on the fiftieth anniversary of the historic ecumenical meeting of their predecessors, Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras.
Welcoming the Pope after a celebration of the Divine Liturgy at the Patriarchal Church of St. George in Istanbul, Patriarch Bartholomew said “the path toward unity is more urgent than ever for those who invoke the name of the great Peacemaker.”
Citing the “diverse divisions, conflicts and animosities, frequently even in the name of God,” the Patriarch said Christians have a “great” responsibility “before God, humankind and history.”
He noted that the Orthodox Church is preparing for its Great Council planned for 2016 and asked Pope Francis to pray for its success. The Patriarch expressed satisfaction that members of both Churches are present as observers in each other’s synodal life and said he hoped that once full communion is restored, “the significant and special day” of holding a joint Great Ecumenical Council will “not be prolonged.”
In concluding, the Patriarch said “the challenges presented to our Churches by today’s historical circumstances oblige us to transcend our introversion in order to meet them with the greatest degree of collaboration. We no longer have the luxury of isolated action. The modern persecutors of Christians do not ask which Church their victims belong to. The unity that concerns us is regrettably already occurring in certain regions of the world through the blood of martyrdom.”