Francis in address to delegation led by Moscow Foreign Minister Archbishop Hilarion: The way of unity is the "only way" - No mission among non-Catholic Christians
Vatican City (kath.net/KAP) Unusually, Pope Francis has reaffirmed his commitment to ecumenism with the Russian Orthodox Church and its Patriarch Kyrill. The path of unity is "the only way that promises us something certain, the path of division will only bring us war and destruction," the Pope said in a short speech to a Russian Orthodox delegation whose text the Vatican published on Saturday.
"The only patriarch in Moscow, in Russia, is yours," Francis assured the delegation. This was under the direction of Metropolitan Hilarion, the foreign chief of the Moscow Patriarchate, who visited Italy from Monday to Wednesday. Shortly before returning to Russia, the group had been received by the Pope.
In his address, Francis gave a clear rejection to any Uniatism, that is, the mission among non-Catholic Christians. If "some Catholic believers - whether lay people, priests or bishops" propagate this, he says: "That does not work anymore, that's over." Of course, the existing Eastern churches unified with Rome, which have arisen in past centuries, must be respected. Today, however, this is no longer a way to unity, according to the Pope.
However, Francis also urged the Russian Orthodox Church to take concrete steps in ecumenism. As examples Francis called for prayer, charitable commitment or pilgrimages. Although one must continue to discuss the theological divergences, one should not wait until at some point, for agreement to exist in all teaching differences.
As a further clear assurance to the Orthodox side, the Pope said: "The Catholic Churches in Russia must not interfere in the internal affairs of the Russian Orthodox Church, as well as in politics." This is his attitude and that of the Holy See, the Pope said. Finally, he called on Orthodox and Catholic believers for mutual prayer for each other. This brings the sisters and brothers of both churches closer together.
Trans: Tancred firstname.lastname@example.org