Torsdag møtte erkebiskop (over Aten og hele Hellas) Christodoulos pave Benedikt i et historisk møte – det var første gang Atens erkebiskop kom på offisielt møte i Vatikanet. De to skrev også under en felleserklæring, som bekrefter at katolikker og ortodokse ønsker å komme nærmere hverandre, og som spesielt tok opp livets hellighet og Europas kristne røtter.
Benedict XVI recalled the important steps that have been taken in the relationship between Catholics and Greek Orthodox, as a result of John Paul II’s visit to that country in May 2001, and then he invited his guest to turn «our gaze towards the future,» to address «an enormous field in which our mutual and pastoral collaboration will be able to grow.»
«Catholics and Orthodox are called to offer their cultural and, above all, their spiritual contribution,» the Holy Father said. «They have the duty to defend the Christian roots of the Continent, which have forged it in the course of the centuries, and thus allow Christian tradition to continue manifesting itself and operating with all its forces to safeguard the dignity of the human person, respect of minorities, being careful to avoid a cultural uniformity that would run the risk of losing immense riches of civilization.»
In his speech, Archbishop Christodoulos addressed virtually the same topics raised by the Pope.
«We come,» the Orthodox leader said, «to visit the eminent theologian and university professor, the assiduous researcher of ancient Greek thought and of the Greek Fathers of the East; but also the visionary of Christian unity and cooperation of religions to ensure the peace of the whole world.»
The archbishop said his visit offered the opportunity «to undertake a new stage on the common path of our Churches to address the problems of the present-day world.»
Archbishop Christodoulos spoke of his commitment to «overcome the dogmatic obstacles that hinder the journey of unity in faith» until Orthodox and Catholics attain «full unity,» and can «commune in the precious Body and Blood of the Lord in the same Chalice of Life.»
In this connection, the archbishop of Athens was confident about the work of the mixed international commission that is entrusted with the dialogue between the Orthodox and Catholic Church. The commission met last September in Belgrade, putting an end to years of stagnation.