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The Church in the World

Pope and patriarch set target of Catholic-Orthodox unity
05 June 2014 by Jonathan Luxmoore

Catholic and Orthodox leaders have agreed to further meetings to build on progress achieved at the encounter in Jerusalem last month between Pope Francis and the ecumenical patriarch, including major joint celebrations in a decade’s time of the Nicene Creed.

“The dialogue for unity between Catholics and Orthodox will start again from Jerusalem, and everyone must commit themselves without hypocrisy,” Patriarch Bartholomew I told the Rome-based AsiaNews agency. “We agreed to leave as a legacy to ourselves and our successors a gathering at Nicaea [now Iznik, Turkey] in 2025, to celebrate together, after 17 centuries, the first truly ecumenical synod where the Creed was first promulgated.”

The patriarch made the announcement following his meeting with Pope Francis at Jerusalem’s Holy Sepulchre basilica on 25 May. He said theologians from both Churches would also attend a session in Jerusalem this autumn of the Catholic-Orthodox Joint Commission, which drew up a “road map” to unity in 2007 and finalised an agreed document on papal primacy at Paris in November 2012.

Meanwhile, the Vatican confirmed the patriarch had now also accepted an invitation to a joint prayer service for peace in the Middle East tomorrow at the Vatican.

In their joint declaration last week, the Pope and the patriarch said the aim of “communion in legitimate diversity” could be achieved with help from the Holy Spirit, and they hoped to reach “the goal of full communion”. It was published amid preparations for a universal Pan-Orthodox Council at Istanbul in 2016. However, a Moscow patriarchate official, Vladimir Legoyda, said he doubted the council would be “truly universal or ecumenical”.


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