Separation between christians is “scandal”

At the culmination of his trip to Turkey, Pope Benedict XVI took. Thursday morning at an ecumenical service with Patriarch Bartholomew I. Part. Celebrations of the Orthodox Feast of St. Andrew were the highlight of the four-day visit to the Muslim-majority country. In his address, the pope vehemently advocated for Christian unity. Afterwards, the church leaders signed a joint declaration on the rapprochement of the two Christian churches.

At the Orthodox celebratory service, the pope called the division between Christians a "scandal for the world and an obstacle to the proclamation of the Gospel". Orthodox and Catholics should be animated by "fervent desire" to celebrate Eucharist together, Benedict XVI said. – So far this has not been possible. The pope did not receive communion at the Orthodox service either.Benedict XVI. Announced his intention to further reconciliation with the Orthodox Church. "I can are you that the Catholic Church is willing to do everything possible to overcome the obstacles," the pope said. The heads of the churches have to perform their tasks in different ways, he said, alluding to the theological dispute about the primacy of the Roman pope or the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople. Benedict XVI emphatically confessed. on the goal of restoring "full communion between the Church of Rome and the Church of Constantinople "Europe must become aware of its Christian roots At the same time, Benedict XVI lamented. a progressive secularization in Europe. The Christian tradition is being doubted and rejected. "Faced with this fact, we are called, together with all other Christian communities, to renew Europe's awareness of its Christian roots, traditions and values and to give them new vitality," the pope stressed.He urged political leaders worldwide to recognize religious freedom as a fundamental human right. The past century has seen "courageous witnesses to the faith, both in the East and in the West," the 79-year-old said. Also in the present there are many such witnesses.

Settle dispute over papacy Like his predecessor John Paul II. invited Benedict XVI. Invited Orthodox Church to dialogue on redefining papacy. The legal supremacy claimed by the bishop of Rome is one of the central points of contention between the Catholic and Orthodox churches. Jesus had given the same task to the apostle brothers Peter and Andrew. However, this has taken on different forms.The question of the universal ministry of Peter and his successors "unfortunately gave rise to differences of opinion," said Benedict XVI. But he said he hoped to overcome it, thanks in part to the recently resumed theological dialogue. In September, a joint Vatican-Orthodox theological commission met again for the first time after years of interruption.

Two sister churches Several times the pope underlined the special bond between the two sister churches, which venerate the apostle-brothers Andrew and Peter as their first bishops. He recalled the lifting of the "tragic excommunications of 1054" by Paul VI. and Athenagoras I. in the year 1965. Since then, important steps of rapprochement have taken place, such as the visit of John Paul II. in the Istanbul Patriarchate in 1979 and several stays of Bartholomew I. in Rome.The pope described the Eastern Church tradition as a treasure from which the church still draws riches. The apostle Andrew stands for the encounter between the early church and Greekity, especially in Asia Minor. Christians should be deeply grateful for this "fruitful encounter between the Christian message and Hellenistic culture". Their heritage has a lasting influence on the churches of the East and the West.

Bartholomew I.Sad that unity has not been achieved The Orthodox patriarch also called for continuing on the path to church unity. "We pray that the day will come when sacramental communion will be fully restored," said Bartholomew I. During the service. He said it was sad that this community had not yet been reached at present.At the same time, he reiterated his great joy about the Pope's visit. The presence of Benedict XVI. is an expression of God's blessing. At the same time, he said, it was clear from this that both churches, in brotherly love, wanted to "continue unswervingly on the path to church unity in accordance with the will and mission of God".

Visit to Hagia Sophia In the afternoon, Benedict XVI. visit the Hagia Sophia. The once most important house of worship of the Eastern Church is now a museum.Afterwards he is the second pope in church history to visit a mosque. After that, several meetings with Christian and Jewish religious leaders are on the program. As in Ankara and Ephesus, the Pope's visit is under tight security measures. Parts of the historic city center were closed to traffic.

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