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Patriarch Kirill, Pope Francis pained by loss of church unity

February 13, 2:46 updated at: February 13, 7:29 UTC+3
The two religious leaders also said that ‘uniatism’ is not the way to reestablish unity
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© EPA/Alejandro Ernesto/POOL

HAVANA, February 13. /TASS/. Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill and Pope Francis are pained by the loss of church unity, a declaration they signed at today's meeting says.

"Notwithstanding this shared Tradition of the first ten centuries, for nearly one thousand years Catholics and Orthodox have been deprived of communion in the Eucharist," the declaration states.

"We have been divided by wounds caused by old and recent conflicts, by differences inherited from our ancestors, in the understanding and expression of our faith in God, one in three Persons - Father, Son and Holy Spirit," it says.

"We are pained by the loss of unity, the outcome of human weakness and of sin, which has occurred despite the priestly prayer of Christ the Savior: "So that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you … so that they may be one, as we are one" (Jn17:21)," the document says.

About terrorism on the planet

Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia and Pope Francis have called on the world community to consolidate to do away with terrorism on the planet.

"We urge the international community to seek an end to the violence and terrorism and, at the same time, to contribute through dialogue to a swift return to civil peace," they said in a declaration.

The two religious leaders noted that violence in Syria and Iraq has claimed thousands of victims and that many other millions have been left without a home or means of sustenance. "Large-scale humanitarian aid must be assured to the afflicted populations and to the many refugees seeking safety in neighbouring lands," the declaration says.

"We call upon the international community to act urgently in order to prevent the further expulsion of Christians from the Middle East. In raising our voice in defence of persecuted Christians, we wish to express our compassion for the suffering experienced by the faithful of other religious traditions who have also become victims of civil war, chaos and terrorist violence," the declaration says.

Uniatism is not way to reestablish unity

Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia and Pope Francis also said that ‘uniatism’ is not the way to reestablish unity.

"It is today clear that the past method of "uniatism", understood as the union of one community to the other, separating it from its Church, is not the way to re-establish unity," the document says.

"Nonetheless, the ecclesial communities which emerged in these historical circumstances have the right to exist and to undertake all that is necessary to meet the spiritual needs of their faithful, while seeking to live in peace with their neighbours," the declaration says. "Orthodox and Greek Catholics are in need of reconciliation and of mutually acceptable forms of co-existence."

The meeting will inspire Christians of entire world to pray for unity

The two religious leaders hope their meeting will inspire Christians worldwide to pray for full unity of the churches, a declaration signed at their meeting said.

"Mindful of the permanence of many obstacles, it is our hope that our meeting may contribute to the re-establishment of this unity willed by God, for which Christ prayed," it said.

"May our meeting inspire Christians throughout the world to pray to the Lord with renewed fervor for the full unity of all His disciples. In a world which yearns not only for our words but also for tangible gestures, may this meeting be a sign of hope for all people of goodwill!" the declaration said.

Orthodox, Catholics rule out any forms of proselytism

Orthodox Christians and Roman Catholics rule out any forms of proselytism, says the text of the declaration.

"Orthodox and Catholics are united not only by the shared Tradition of the Church of the first millennium, but also by the mission to preach the Gospel of Christ in the world today. This mission entails mutual respect for members of the Christian communities and excludes any form of proselytism," it says.

"We are not competitors but brothers, and this concept must guide all our mutual actions as well as those directed to the outside world. We urge Catholics and Orthodox in all countries to learn to live together in peace and love, and to be "in harmony with one another" (Rm15:5)," it says.

"Consequently, it cannot be accepted that disloyal means be used to incite believers to pass from one Church to another, denying them their religious freedom and their traditions. We are called upon to put into practice the precept of the apostle Paul: "Thus I aspire to proclaim the gospel not where Christ has already been named, so that I do not build on another's foundation" (Rm15:20)," the declaration says.

"It is our hope that our meeting may also contribute to reconciliation wherever tensions exist between Greek Catholics and Orthodox. It is today clear that the past method of "uniatism", understood as the union of one community to the other, separating it from its Church, is not the way to re-establish unity," it says.

"Nonetheless, the ecclesial communities which emerged in these historical circumstances have the right to exist and to undertake all that is necessary to meet the spiritual needs of their faithful, while seeking to live in peace with their neighbours. Orthodox and Greek Catholics are in need of reconciliation and of mutually acceptable forms of co-existence," the declaration says.

Respect right to life of seriously ill people

Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill and Pope Francis have called on everyone to respect the right to life for newborns and seriously sick people, says a joint declaration.

"We call on all to respect the inalienable right to life. Millions are denied the very right to be born into the world. The blood of the unborn cries out to God (cf.Gen4:10)," it says. The emergence of so-called euthanasia leads elderly people and the disabled begin to feel that they are a burden on their families and on society in general."

"We are also concerned about the development of biomedical reproduction technology, as the manipulation of human life represents an attack on the foundations of human existence, created in the image of God. We believe that it is our duty to recall the immutability of Christian moral principles, based on respect for the dignity of the individual called into being according to the Creator’s plan," the declaration says.

About preserving Christian tradition

The two religious leaders have called on Christians of the Western and Eastern Europe to unite to preserve Christian tradition.

"The process of European integration, which began after centuries of blood-soaked conflicts, was welcomed by many with hope, as a guarantee of peace and security. Nonetheless, we invite vigilance against an integration that is devoid of respect for religious identities," says a joint declaration .

"While remaining open to the contribution of other religions to our civilization, it is our conviction that Europe must remain faithful to its Christian roots. We call upon Christians of Eastern and Western Europe to unite in their shared witness to Christ and the Gospel, so that Europe may preserve its soul, shaped by two thousand years of Christian tradition," the document says.

Two churches’ leaders are able to work together - Patriarch Kirill

The results of the conversation between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill show that the two churches may work jointly protecting Christians, Patriarch Kirill said after a meeting with Pope Francis.

"We spent two hours in brotherly discussions with full understanding of responsibility for our churches, our people who believes, the future of Christianity and the future of human civilization," the patriarch said.

"This was a very substantive discussion, which allowed us to realize and feel each other’s positions, and the results of this conversation allow me to say that the two churches may jointly work, protect Christians, jointly work to prevent war, for human life to be respected, for the foundations of family, private, public morality to be strengthened and for the Most Holy and Blessed name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit to be glorified through participation of the church in the life of modern society," he said.

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