|Archimandrite Ignatios Sotiriadis|
Archimandrite Ignatios: First of all, I feel proud to see His Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I in the Sistine Chapel, where popes are elected, also famous worldwide for its artistic value, because I consider the invitation from Pope Benedict to the "primus inter pares" of the Orthodox Church a most great honor. ...
It was a historical event, in which a Pope celebrates vespers before the representatives of the entire Catholic episcopate and on this occasion, doesn't exercise his ministry as teacher, but concedes it to the second bishop of the Church when it was not yet divided.
What most impressed me was what the Pope said when the patriarch's homily, received with long applause, was over: "If we have common fathers, how can we not be brothers?" ....
Q: But the great novelty, perhaps, has not been the patriarch's intervention, but rather the desire of the Pope, expressed at the end of vespers, to include the patriarch's proposals in the synodal proposals. This is an initiative that appears to have been welcomed by the synod fathers. In this way, for the first time in history, the magisterium of an ecumenical patriarch could be taken up by the official magisterium of the Catholic Church in the postsynodal apostolic exhortation.
Archimandrite Ignatios: When we are united in the Word of God, our path inevitably leads us toward a second stage, which is full unity, that is, a common celebration of the Eucharist. But this will not be reached as much with human efforts as with the breath and will of the Holy Spirit.
Q: Yet those who hope for this unity sometimes see it as something far off …
Archimandrite Ignatios: The separation of the Eastern and Western Church occurred over various centuries; it was not an isolated event in the year 1054, but a long cultural, linguistic process. … I think that the re-encounter will happen in the same way, following a gradual path. We separated slowly, and slowly we will unite. But it is not for us to talk of dates.
What is certain is the desire of the Orthodox Church that the Church of Rome parts with its temporal power and dedicates itself totally to its spiritual mission for the transformation of the world.
[My original post on this event, as well as the Patriarch's address to the Synod, can be found here. Please continue to pray daily for the full visible unity of all Christians.]