From “Unity as Calling, Conversion and Mission,” the opening address of His All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to the Plenary of the World Council of Churches’ Commission on Faith and Order event, “Called to be One Church” (Crete, Greece, October 7, 2009):
We should not be frustrated by our human limitations, which unfortunately determine our disagreements and divisions. Our ongoing and persistent pursuit of unity is a testimony to the fact that what we seek will occur in God’s time and not our own; it is, by the same token, the fruit of heavenly grace and divine kairos.
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… genuine humility demands from all of us a sense of openness to the past and the future; in other words, much like the ancient god Janus, we are called to manifest respect for the time-tested ways of the past and regard for the heavenly city that we seek (cf. Heb. 13.14). This “turning” toward the past and the future is surely part and parcel of conversion.
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… it is the preservation of creation as the proper way of worshipping the Creator and the promotion of tolerance and understanding among religions and peoples in our world. Working closely together on issues of ecological awareness and ecumenical dialogue is a crucial reflection of the “everlasting covenant” (verses 25-26), whereby Ezekiel’s God proclaims: “I will be their God and they shall be my people … forevermore” (verses 27-28).
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If, then, we are to submit to the authority of God, the authority of the kingdom, then we must be authentic and prophetic in our criticism of the world’s consumerism. We must remember and remind our faithful that the land – and all the fullness thereof – belongs to the Lord (cf. Psalm 24.1), that the world’s resources must be oriented toward others.
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Beloved brothers and sisters, the unity that we seek is a gift from above, which we must pursue persistently as well as patiently; it is not something that depends solely on us, but primarily on God’s judgment and kairos. Nevertheless, this sacred gift of unity is something that also demands of us radical conversion and re-orientation so that we may turn humbly toward our common roots in the Apostolic Church and the communion of saints, but also so that we may entrust ourselves and submit to God’s heavenly kingdom and authority.