There can be no path toward unity without a petition for forgiveness, says Pope Francis, which means that the anniversary of the removal of the mutual Catholic-Orthodox excommunications is a providential beginning to the Year of Mercy.
The Holy Father made this observation today after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.
On Dec. 7, 1965, on the eve of the end of the Second Vatican Council, Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras made a common declaration to remove the excommunications mutually leveled in 1054 at the beginning of the Great Schism.
“It is truly providential that this historic gesture of reconciliation, which created the conditions for a new dialogue between Orthodox and Catholics in love and truth, would be marked precisely at the beginning of the Jubilee of Mercy,” Pope Francis said today.
“There is no authentic path toward unity without a petition for forgiveness, to God and between us, for the sin of division,” he added.
The Holy Father invited the faithful to pray for “the dear Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and the other leaders of the Orthodox Churches and let us ask the Lord that relations between Catholics and Orthodox be always inspired by fraternal love.”
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