Catholic-Orthodox Dialogue Needs a Deep Spirituality, Pope Says

Message to Inter-Christian Symposium Under Way in Greece

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VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 3, 2003 ( John Paul II says a profound spirituality is needed to make progress in the dialogue between Catholics and Orthodox, divided by a millennium-old schism.

The Pope expressed this in a letter sent to Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, in which he asks that his greetings be relayed to the participants in the Inter-Christian Symposium, being held in Ioannina, Greece, through Sunday.

The Holy Father notes that the Franciscan Institute of Spirituality of the Antonianum Pontifical Athenaeum in Rome and the Theology Faculty of the Aristotle University of Thessalonica of the Greek Orthodox Church began a series of such symposiums in 1992. The events focus on such themes as prayer and contemplation, monastic spirituality, and the ecclesial dimension of spirituality.

The theme of the 2003 meeting is “The Relation Between Spirituality and Christian Dogma in the East and West,” in an effort to study the “contribution that spirituality can offer to doctrine, nourishing its development and a deeper study of it.”

“Spirituality,” the papal message says, “in influencing the dispositions of the spirit and the heart, creates the proper psychological context to undertake the dialogue in an open and confident way.”

“This is particularly important when Catholics and Orthodox address questions and problems that still divide them,” the Pope adds.

The Holy Father encourages the effort of the organizers of the meeting, as this type of event “involves the different contexts of ecclesial life, in particular, the academic and formative.”

“In this way, that spirit of openness and of listening is promoted which helps so much to make progress in the way which, we hope, will soon lead to full communion,” he concludes.

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