Cardinal Sepe Visits Bartholomew I

Patriarch Expresses Gratitude for Unity Efforts

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ISTANBUL, Turkey, FEB. 18, 2009 ( The archbishop of Naples was received in audience Tuesday by the ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople, who noted the prelate’s efforts to promote Christian unity.

The Neapolitan archdiocese reported that the meeting between Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe and Bartholomew I took place in Istanbul. The prelate was accompanied by Archbishop Armando Dini, retired archbishop of Campobasso, Archbishop Antonio Lucibello, the apostolic nuncio in Turkey, and several members of the Catholic lay Sant’Egidio community.
During the meeting, Bartholomew I referred to Benedict XVI’s visit in November 2006, and his decision to «go forward on the common path of unity, in the hope of seeing, as soon as possible, the mending of the fracture between the two sister Churches.»
The patriarch explained: «The theological dialogue between our Churches, interrupted for almost six years, was taken up again first in Belgrade and then in Ravenna, and will continue next October in Krakow. We will be invited to examine the question of the primacy of the Bishop of Rome within the Christian Church.»
He also expressed his gratitude for the work of «so many bishops and theologians, as well as of some movements, such as Focolare and the Sant’ Egidio community, which work for Christian unity.»
In particular Bartholomew I expressed gratitude for Cardinal Sepe’s work and his «contribution to Christian unity.»

The cardinal invited the patriarch to return to Naples, the city «that wishes to be a bridge» with the Orthodox.
Ecumenical labor
Cardinal Sepe is on a pilgrimage in Turkey, which began Feb. 16 and will end Feb. 21. He is visiting places related to the life of the Apostle Paul with a group of 50 priests of the archdiocese.
Since his arrival to the archdiocese of Naples in July 2006, the cardinal, formerly prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, has worked to promote ecumenical dialogue.
In October 2007, the archdiocese organized an international meeting for peace, in which Benedict XVI had the opportunity to meet with Bartholomew I and other religious leaders.
The cardinal also recently visited the patriarchs of Cyprus, Chrysostomos II, and of Moscow, Alexy II. He personally handed the latter a letter from the Pope a few weeks before the patriarch’s death.
On the eve of this trip to Turkey, Cardinal Sepe expressed his conviction that «only through dialogue and frequent contact can we gradually move from an ecumenism of facade to the ecumenism that is found in the heart of those who meet.»
He continued: «This trip will help us once again to be aware of the importance of building bridges and not erecting walls, in a particularly difficult moment when intolerance and fear of different worlds and cultures cannot impose themselves.
«Our presence in Istanbul reaffirms, in short, the vocation of the Church and of the city of Naples to be the capital of meeting and dialogue.»

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