Vatican City, 30 November 2012 (VIS) – Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, is leading a delegation sent by the Holy See to Istanbul to participate in celebrations marking the Feast of St. Andrew, patron of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. The Holy See and the Patriarchate exchange regular annual visits for the feast days of their respective patrons.
The Holy See delegation to this year’s celebration is made up of Cardinal Koch; Bishop Brian Farrell, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity; Fr. Andrea Palmieri, an official of the same dicastery, and Archbishop Antonio Lucibello, apostolic nuncio to Turkey. The group attended a divine liturgy celebrated by Bartholomew I in the patriarchal church of Fanar, then met with the Patriarch and the synodal commission which oversees relations with the Catholic Church.
Cardinal Koch gave Bartholomew I a gift and a message from the Holy Father which was read out at the end of the divine liturgy. He then met with representatives of the local Catholic community and the ecumenical council of the apostolic vicariate of the Catholic Church in Istanbul.
In his message, the Pope explains that this annual exchange of delegations “is testimony to the fraternal bonds which join us together. It is a profound and genuine communion, if still imperfect, which is based not on human motives of courtesy or convenience but rather on our common faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. … This solid foundation allows us to proceed together confidently on the path to the re-establishment of full communion”.
“In our times, the most urgent challenge, about which we have always been in perfect agreement, … is how we must connect the proclamation of God’s merciful love for contemporary man, so often distracted and incapable of reflection on the meaning of his own existence, and as such often misled by plans and utopias that can lead only to disillusionment. The Church has only one message, ‘God’s Gospel’, and no method other than its apostolic proclamation, supported and guaranteed by the testimony and sanctity of the life of priests and the people of God. The Lord Jesus told us that ‘the harvest is rich’, and we must not accept that it may be lost as a result of our weaknesses and divisions”, concluded the Holy Father.