Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew greets Vatican delegation at the Phanar

From the Order of St. Andrew the Apostle:

Istanbul, Turkey

His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew addressed a Vatican delegation representing Pope Benedict XVI at the Thronal Feast of the Ecumenical Patriarchate on November 30, 2009. The delegation, led by Cardinal Walter Kasper also delivered greetings to His All Holiness on behalf of Pope Benedict. The Ecumenical Patriarch’s greeting on the feast of St. Andrew the First Called follows:

Your Eminence Cardinal Walter Kasper, representative of His Holiness the Pope and Bishop of Rome, Benedict XVI, and your honorable entourage,

Pat. Bartholomew and Card. Kasper

Pat. Bartholomew and Card. Kasper

It is with great joy that we welcome you once again to the courtyard of the Church of New Rome in order to concelebrate the sacred memory of its founder and protector Saint Andrew the First-Called of the Apostles. We express our heartfelt gratitude to our beloved brother in the Lord, His Holiness Pope Benedict of Old Rome, who deigned to delegate his representatives to the Thronal feast of our Church, following the custom established decades ago for an exchange of visitations during the patronal feasts of our two ancient and apostolic Churches as confirmation of their desire to lift the impediments, accumulated over a millennium and preventing the fullness of communion among them. We attribute great symbolical significance to your presence here inasmuch as it also reveals — in a deeply formal manner — the desire of the most holy Church of Rome to do whatever it can on its part, so that we may rediscover our unity in the same faith and sacramental communion according to the will of Him who has called us to unity “so that the world may believe.” (John 17.21)

As is known, St. Andrew the First-Called of the apostles, whom we celebrate today, was the brother of St. Peter the chief among the apostles; together, they knew Christ and believed in Him. The two brothers held this faith in common; the two Churches, which they founded and sanctified by means of their preaching and martyrdom, I did also hold this faith in common. This same faith was proclaimed as doctrine by our common Church Fathers, who gathered from east and west in ecumenical councils, where they transmitted it as an invaluable treasure to our Churches in order that we might build upon this faith our unity in Christ. It is this same faith, preserved intact for an entire millennium both in the east and the west, which we are again called to establish as the basis of our unity, cleansing it from any chance addition or alteration, so that “with one soul and one mind” (Phil. 2.2) we may proceed to communion in the divine Eucharist, wherein lies the fullness of the unity of the Church of Christ.

This journey toward achieving full communion, as enjoyed by our Churches in common during the first millennium, has already commenced with the dialogue of love and truth, and continues by God’s grace despite occasional difficulties. It is with vigilant concern and unceasing prayer that we follow the process of the ongoing official Theological Dialogue between our two Churches, co-chaired by Your Eminence, and now embarking upon the examination of critical ecclesiological issues, such as the question of primacy in general and that of the bishop of Rome in particular. Everyone is aware that this thorny issue proved a scandalous contention in the course of relations between our two Churches, which is why the eradication of this impediment from among us will surely greatly facilitate our journey toward unity. We are, therefore, convinced that the study of Church history during the first millennium, at least with regard to this matter, will also provide the touchstone for the further evaluation of later developments during the second millennium, which unfortunately led our Churches to greater estrangement and intensified our division.

In a world shattered by contrasts and conflicts, the exchange of peaceful and constructive dialogue constitutes the only way of achieving reconciliation and unity. In the apostolic passage read during this morning’s Divine Liturgy, the Apostles are promoted as an example of utter humility in imitation of the crucified Lord: “When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we speak kindly. We have become like the rubbish of the world, the dregs of all things, to this very day.” (1 Cor. 4. 12-13) If this ethos of humility must prevail in the relations of the faithful toward the persecutors of the Church, how much more so should it prevail in the relations among Christians themselves! The peaceful resolution of existing differences in inter-Christian relations by no means implies estrangement from truth. For truth does not fear dialogue; on the contrary, truth employs dialogue as a means of becoming acceptable even to those who for various reasons reject it. Hatred and fanaticism provoke the defensive entrenchment of each side in the blind persistence on its own positions and opinions, while consolidating differences and obliterating all hope of reconciliation. Such an attitude is absolutely unrelated to the spirit of the Christ’s Gospel and the apostolic example. For only by “speaking the truth in love” (Eph. 4.15) do we truly speak the truth, just as only by loving truthfully (2 John 1) do we truly love. A dialogue imbued by a sincere spirit of humility guarantees this blessed combination, which comprises the only divinely-inspired way for all those who wish to be imitators of the Apostles. (1 Cor. 4.16)

It is this spirit of sincere and loving dialogue that the Church of Christ itself is today called to implement in its relations among divided Christians, while at the same time proclaiming it to all persons of good will, wherever they happen to be. We know from bitter experience that religion can easily be misused as a banner of fanaticism and conflict among people. We have personally emphasized on numerous occasions that war in the name of religion is war against religion. This is why interfaith dialogue is particularly mandatory in our age, without entailing any compromise in one’s religious convictions. It is this dialogue that is encouraged and cultivated by our Ecumenical Patriarchate, which contributes in this way to the consolidation of peace in our contemporary world.

Your Eminence Cardinal Kasper and your honorable entourage,

Through the order established by the holy Ecumenical Councils, Divine Providence has assigned to the Church of this City the ministry of serving as the first-throne of the Orthodox Church, bearing the responsibility of coordinating and expressing the unanimity of the local holy Orthodox Churches. With this responsibility, then, we are now working diligently in preparation for the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church, by activating the appropriate preconciliar instruments. Thus, only last June, we successfully convened the 4th Preconciliar Panorthodox Consultation, which dealt with the question of the Orthodox Diaspora; soon, we shall convene the Preparatory Commission for the study and preparation of other issues for the Great Council. The purpose of this entire endeavor is to forge the unity of the Orthodox Church, so that “with one mind and one heart” it may contribute to the witness of the Gospel in our modern world. In this effort and overall variously difficult service, the Church of Constantinople always considers the support of the Old Church of Rome as invaluable, and so with great love we also direct our thought there at this moment.

Greeting you — and through you, him who sent you here, namely our beloved brother in the Lord — with a sacred embrace, we pray that the Lord our God, through the intercessions of the Holy glorious and First-Called Apostle Andrew, will protect His Church from all evil, guiding it to the fulfillment of His divine will.

Welcome here among us, beloved brothers!


  1. “It is this same faith, preserved intact for an entire millennium both in the east and the west, which we are again called to establish as the basis of our unity, cleansing it from any chance addition or alteration….”

    Chance addition or alteration? So, the EP now views all of the heresies promulgated by Rome to be “chance additions or alterations”.

    Little accidents rather than concious choices. Rather than Rome repenting, we just need them to do a little tweaking. Let’s tweak Vatican I a little: “The Pope is infallabile”. Oops! Forgot. Tweak. Tweak. Ah! “The Pope and EP are infallible”.

    Let’s tweak Filioque: “We will not alter the creed and insert it. But we will profess a belief in the double procession”. Nice compromise. New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia: “The Councils of Lyons and Florence did not require the Greeks to insert the Filioque into the Creed, but only to accept the Catholic doctrine of the double Procession of the Holy Ghost.” Big job: how do they plan on tweaking Mark of Ephesus?

    When the time comes, who wants to join me in nailing Mark’s letters to the door of the EP?

  2. I missed this on the first read: “Everyone is aware that this thorny issue [Papal Primacy] proved a scandalous contention in the course of relations between our two Churches, which is why the eradication of this impediment from among us will surely greatly facilitate our journey toward unity”.

    It sounds like the EP has accepted the two-lung theory and/or the branch theory. A careful read indicates that he is referring in the past to the first millenium. ROCOR in 1983 described these theories as follows:

    “Those who attack the Church of Christ by teaching that Christ’s Church is divided into so-called “branches” which differ in doctrine and way of life, or that the Church does not exist visibly, but will be formed in the future when all “branches” or sects or denominations, and even religions will be united into one body; and who do not distinguish the priesthood and mysteries of the Church from those of the heretics, but say that the baptism and eucharist of heretics is effectual for salvation; therefore, to those who knowingly have communion with these aforementioned heretics or who advocate, disseminate, or defend their new heresy of Ecumenism under the pretext of brotherly love or the supposed unification of separated Christians, Anathema!”

    It would seem that ROCOR’s position comports with St. Cyprian of Carthage and all others of the first millenia.

  3. Michael Bauman :

    I would say that most people, including me, are uncomfortable with a black and white ecclesiology that consigns all those not in the Orthodox Church (which one BTW) to hell. I see genuine Christian truth, mercy and love of God amongst the hetrodox that often exceeds our own. That being said, I am not at all comfortable with an egalitarian approach that ignores or minimizes real differences for the sake of a false unity.

    Clearly, entering into communion with Rome while the Pope is proclaiming his infallibility; the filioque, etc. is a bad idea. The same with the indviudual papacy and legalistic reductionism of many Protestants. Any hierarch who does so should be anathametized. There is no good reason for union with Rome, let Rome go. She made the decision to leave long ago and has done nothing to return.

    However, that should not, IMO, prevent us from acknowledging truth were it is and then telling the rest of the story. That is the approach the missionaries to Alaska used with great success. Real unity lies in calling to those who really do seek union with God to come home, not in marco-ecclesial power plays. We must seek those who are lost in the wilderness in a personal and intimate manner. Salvation is always personal.

    The EP no longer seems to remember the personal dimension of union with Christ that is the fundamental reality of the Church which is after all a communion of persons because she reflects the Holy Trinity. The Church is incarntate presence because she is the Body of Christ. The Holy Mysteries are what allows us to be in His Body and ultimately in His Kingdom. To throw the doors wide-open is to deny everything the Church is; to deny the sacrifice of the marytrs and the testimony of the saints.

    If those who love God and seek union with Him who are currently outside the Church are going to hell, where does that leave us who refuse to evangelize and share the truth with them–will we not share the fate of the rich man. I have seen nothing from ROCOR that indicates they care about evangelizing the United States. My impression is that they simply want to maintain the purity of the faith. Laudable to a point, but inadequate.

    If union with Jesus Christ is salvation, that is what we must practice, teach and help form in others. Anything else is futile.

    • Yes. Apostosle means “sent.” If a Church is not evengelizing all nations as commmanded by the One Head, then it is not sent by the Lord, and is NOT Apostolic. No matter what it has preserved in the attic and the basement.

      • George Michalopulos :

        We Orthodox have been guilty of “losing our first love.” What is our first love? I can tell you what it is not: concerns of the Old World patriarchates and their lackeys here in the “diaspora” regarding seat-placement, primacy, nostalgia, etc. In North America, there was only one primate concerned with “making America Orthodox,” and that was +Philip. However, this past year has been a retrenchment due to ethnic backlash and his own on regrettable missteps. The Lord has been merciful and sent us another primate. Let us pray that we not fail Him this time.

        +Jonah however cannot do it alone. For this to happen, all Orthodox bishops in America (especially those that represent the ethnic exarchates) must repent of this lapse, otherwise the Holy Spirit will depart. He is long-suffering and merciful, but as with the Israelites of old, He did not hesitate to leave them to their devices.

  4. Assuming, for the sake of discussion, that Orthodox theology is correct (and, thus, Catholic theology is incorrect) isn’t it necessary for Orthodox to talk to Catholics to get them to the point where they see the error of their ways?

    This inveterate shunning of dialogue continues to be a mystery to me.

    • I am not suggesting (as does ROCOR) that one should not talk. I am suggesting that the EP’s view of Rome is not in accord with the teaching of Mark of Ephesus and most other Orthodox. See how Pope Benedict put it in his address: “Our growing friendship and mutual respect, and our willingness to encounter one another and to recognize one another as brothers in Christ, should not be hindered by those who remain bound to the remembrance of historical differences, which impedes their openness to the Holy Spirit who guides the Church and is able to transform all human failings into opportunities for good.” See whole address at:

      The bottom line is that Rome is full of heresy. Sweeping heresy under the rug in the guise of calling it “chance addition or alteration” or “historical differences” is a lie against Truth. One definition of blashpemy is irreverance towards a belief. Brushing heresy aside under the guise of “chance addition or alteration” or “historical differences” is therefore blasphemy against Truth. The consequences can have grave results: Matthew 12:31.

  5. Michael Bauman :


    Good assumption to start with, but the ‘dialog’ that has been attempted over the centuries has always been on RC terms largely due to the political instability of the east. That hasn’t changed. Pope Benedict, in one of his ,early statements after becoming Pope, clearly stated that the way to RC-Orthodox unity was simple, we must submit to the authority of the Papacy.

    The Orthodox historical position has always been that the institution of the Papacy is heretical and schismatic. That position is clearly reflected in the ROCOR statement. Rome offically considers us schismatics.

    Four choices: 1. We submit to the Pope; 2. The Pope submits to the Church; 3. We choose to have nothing to do with each other; 4. Half measures are employed that dishonor the theology, history and witness of both the RC and we Orthodox. In the meantime while all of the political posturing is going on precious oppoprtunities to actually preach the Gospel are squandered, especially here in the United States.

    The whole hierarchical approach to unity is a farce and only leads to emasculation as the passion for ‘unity’ overwhelms all else. As I stated, real unity is a personal, intimate work powered by the Holy Spirit.

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