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"Today the concept of truth is viewed with suspicion, because truth is identified with violence. Over history there have, unfortunately, been episodes when people sought to defend the truth with violence. But they are two contrasting realities. Truth cannot be imposed with means other than itself! Truth can only come with its own light. Yet, we need truth. ... Without truth we are blind in the world, we have no path to follow. The great gift of Christ was that He enabled us to see the face of God".Pope Benedict xvi, February 24th, 2012

The Church is ecumenical, catholic, God-human, ageless, and it is therefore a blasphemy—an unpardonable blasphemy against Christ and against the Holy Ghost—to turn the Church into a national institution, to narrow her down to petty, transient, time-bound aspirations and ways of doing things. Her purpose is beyond nationality, ecumenical, all-embracing: to unite all men in Christ, all without exception to nation or race or social strata. - St Justin Popovitch

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Wednesday, 7 December 2016

HIS BEATITUDE PATRIARCH BARTHOLOMEW II CROSSES FRONTIERS

Bartholomew delivers lectio magistralis on communion during historic visit to BariIn the lecture he gave in the southern Italian city of Bari - a crossroads of civilisations, languages, cultures and religions - the Ecumenical Patriarch referred to the synod in Crete as “an example of communion”
my source: Vatican Insider
STEFANIA FALASCA
BARI
Last June’s pan-Orthodox Council in Crete was not just “an example of communion” but a “‘sea of communion’ for the entire Orthodox Church and for the world”, said the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew in a lectio magistralis he delivered during his historic visit to the southern Italian city of Bari for the Feast of St. Nicholas. The lecture, which focused on communion, especially its theological significance, was delivered in the ancient Basilica dedicated to the patron saint, on the occasion of the inauguration of the academic year at the Theological Faculty of Puglia, Italy. The Ecumenical Institute presented him with the “St. Nicholas” prize. 


This is the first time the Italian seaside city of Bari has received an Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople. The city, which is a centre of co-existence and a bridge between Eastern and Western Christians has for over 1000 years been home to the relics of the saint of the undivided Church, forever venerated by Catholics and Orthodox faithful. The ecumenical importance of Bartholomew’s visit is furthered by the conviction that every local Church must commit to ecumenism. Bartholomew has led the Orthodox Churches in a spirit of charity and diakonia since 1991, tirelessly pursuing Christian unity and peace. The “substantial recognition” which the diocese of Bari conferred upon Bartholomew, was reiterated in Francis’ message as a “sign of gratitude for his service in promoting ever closer communion between all of Christ’s followers”. The Patriarch welcomed this sign as “prophetic of the unity of all of God’s Holy Churches,” underlining the theological journey “between our Churches and love, respect and collaboration”. 


Communion, Council, sharing, dialogue, integration. These were the themes covered in Bartholomew’s lectio magistralis in Bari, titled: “The Adriatic and the Ionian, seas of Communion”. In his lecture, which was completely in tune with Francis’ messages, the patriarch of Constantinople explained the concept of Communion as an expression of love of the Trinitarian relationship, quoting the Scriptures: “Communion is a joint participation in grace, love and communion in God’s life, which becomes the very experience of ‘being in a relationship’. It means participating in divine nature, through the grace granted to us by God in all aspects of Christian life. It means sharing in the faith, sharing spirituality, praying for each other, it means making this communion concrete in our lives, practicing it. So if we are reconciled with God through Jesus Christ, if we are intimate with Him, Bartholomew explained, “we perceive our brothers and sisters as people who belong to us, who share in our Trinitary origins and we walk towards the same destination which is Christ, who encapsulates everything”. “Trinitary love turns us into people who relate to one another, communional subjects, connatural in dialogue, capable of a loving relationship that transfigures our egos, making us capable of acting and thinking that peace stems from dialogue and dialogue leads to unity.” 


The Patriarch went on to stress that the Orthodox Church gave an example of communion in Crete: “Our Holy Orthodox Church demonstrated its “communion” in Crete last June, when the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church was convened, by unanimous decision of all Primates of the Autocephalous Orthodox Churches”. After almost 55 years of preparations, discussions, meetings and synaxes between Primates, despite the problems that arose a few days after its convocation and the absence of some Churches, the pan-Orthodox Council went ahead in a climate of prayer and dialogue, addressing current issues such as the Church’s mission in today’s world and the relationship of the Orthodox Church with the rest of the Christian world. 


Bartholomew said “this great conciliar assembly spoke with one single voice to its faithful, Churches and the world”. It was an example of communion and illustrative of a relationship lived in the image of the Trinitarian relationship. In the Encyclical to the world, it laid out the fundamental principles of communion: “The Church lives not for herself. She offers herself for the whole of humanity in order to raise up and renew the world into new heavens and a new earth”. It also described the way in which its Communion expresses itself: “The Church in herself is a Council, established by Christ and guided by the Holy Spirit, in accord with the apostolic words: ‘It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us’(Acts 15.28).” According to Bartholomew then, the Council felt the need for communion with the world and with everything connected to it. It looked at current changes, at the need for care to be shown towards the human person, even in the face of advances in science, genetics and the new sciences. It spoke out against widespread poverty and the imminent threat towards the natural environment. It also expressed itself on problems deriving from globalisation and the extreme phenomena of violence and immigration. A special emphasis was given to the communional vocation of the family as a “domestic Church” and dialogue as an experience that is intrinsic to the Orthodox spirit, in line with what was said about the concept of communion: “In this spirit of recognition of the need for testimony and willingness, the Orthodox Church has always attached a great deal of importance to dialogue and especially to dialogue with non-Orthodox Christians.” 


Bartholomew then turned his attention to the testimony of the ancient and peaceful co-existence between Greeks and Latins in the Puglia region. A cradle of history, civilisations, languages, cultures and religions capable of interconnections and exchanges that influenced social processes throughout the entire area for centuries, contributing to the growth of the peoples in the Mare Nostrum. Today as then, we cannot be in a relationship with God and our suffering brothers and sisters without putting the human and social proposals of the Orthodox Church Council into practice and nurturing the principles of dialogue, love and peace before a “Mare Nostrum that has turned into a grave for many of our brothers and sisters who dreamed of a better life. We believe that the role of religions,” the Patriarch said, “is fundamental in creating, launching and consolidating the principle of communion for collaboration and mutual understanding, eliminating the fundamentalist mind sets found in all societies and religions. There is a need for mutual respect among peoples, overcoming mistrust, violence, massacres and genocides. Social justice and justice among nations must prevail over the mere interests of the world economy and uncontrolled globalisation, in order to put an end to rampant migration.” 


Tomorrow, the Patriarch of Constantinople will refer back to these themes in his homily and will descend into the Basilica crypt to venerate the relics of St. Nicholas. He will also attend the Eucharistic concelebration for the feast of the patron saint, presided over by the Archbishop of Bari-Bitonto, Francesco Carucci. Carucci described the Patriarch’s historic visit to Bari as “an important step along the path that brings Catholic and Orthodox faithful closer, through their common remembrance of the saint of Myra and is the crowning moment of a long journey”.  
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Bartholomew: “‘Amoris Laetitia’ recalls the compassion of God”

The Patriarch of Constantinople comments on the Apostolic Exhortation, which he says, speaks of “mercy rather than solely the moral rules and canonical regulations of men”

Pubblicato il 02/12/2016
Ultima modifica il 02/12/2016 alle 
ANDREA TORNIELLI
VATICAN CITY


“‘Amoris Laetitia’ recalls first and foremost the mercy and compassion of God, rather than solely the moral rules and canonical regulations of men.” The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew wrote this in a comment about Pope Francis’ post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation. 

“When speaking of God,” Bartholomew observes, “the descriptive language that we adopt is love. And when speaking of love, the fundamental dimension that we attribute is divine. This is why the Apostle of Love defines God as love.” The Ecumenical Patriarch points out the fact that the publication of “Amoris Laetitia” coincided with the Pope and his own joint visit to the refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos. 

Bartholomew then goes on to explain that “‘Amoris Laetitia’ touches the very heart of love and family, just as it touches the heart of every living person born into this world. This is because the most sensitive issues of family life reflect the most vital questions of belonging and communion. Whether they concern the challenges of marriage and divorce, or even of sexuality and childrearing, they are all delicate and precious pieces of the sacred mystery that we call life.”  

“Over the last months,” the Patriarch adds in the article published by Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, “there have been many commentaries and evaluations on this significant document. People have wondered how specific doctrine has been developed or defended, whether pastoral questions have been reformed or resolved, and if particular rules have been either reinforced or mitigated. However, in light of the imminent feast of the Lord’s Incarnation -- a time when we commemorate and celebrate that the “divine word assumed human flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1.14) -- it is important to observe that ‘Amoris Laetitia’ recalls first and foremost the mercy and compassion of God, rather than solely the moral rules and canonical regulations of men. 

“What has undoubtedly smothered and hampered people in the past,” Bartholomew goes on to note, “is the fear that a “heavenly father” somehow dictates human conduct and prescribes human custom. The truth is quite the opposite, and religious leaders are called themselves to remember and in turn to remind that God is life and love and light. Indeed, these are the terms repeatedly emphasized by Pope Francis in his encyclical, which discerns the experience and challenges of contemporary society in order to discern a spirituality of marriage and family for today’s world. 

“The church fathers,” the Patriarch adds, “are not afraid to speak openly and honestly about the Christian life. Nonetheless, their starting point is always the loving and saving grace of God, which shines on all people without discrimination or disdain. The same fire of God, says Abba Isaac the Syrian in the seventh century, brings warmth and consolation to those who are accustomed to its energy, while searing and consuming those who have turned away from its fervor in their lives. The same light of God, says St. Symeon the New Theologian in the tenth century, serves as salvation for those who have desired it and enables them to see the divine glory, while bringing condemnation to those who have rejected it and preferred their own blindness.”  

“In the early months of this Jubilee Year of Mercy,” Bartholomew concludes, “it was most fitting that Pope Francis both encountered the families of the despondent refugees in Greece and embraced the families under his pastoral care throughout the world. In so doing, not only did he invoke the infinite charity and unconditional compassion of the living God upon the most vulnerable souls, but he also evoked a personal response from the recipients-readers of his words as well as all people of good will. For he invited people to assume personal responsibility for their salvation by searching for ways in which they can follow the divine commandments and mature in spiritual love.” 
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