Cardinal Sandri: Centenary of Foundation of Congregation for Oriental Churches

‘Our being here, today, around this altar, commits us to pray and to continue in the ecumenical commitment’

Piazza Esquilino with Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore

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Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, gave the following address on Thursday, Oct. 12, 2017, to Pope Francis at the start of the Mass the Pontiff was celebrating in Rome’s Marian Basilica of St. Maria Maggiore to commemorate the Centenary of the Congregation:

Below is a Zenit-provided working translation of Cardinal Sandri’s address:

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Greeting of Cardinal Leonardo Sandri,

Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches

and Grand Chancellor of the Pontifical Oriental Institute

at the End of the Eucharistic Celebration

in Saint Mary Major

(October 12, 2017)

Holy Father,

Together with you, united around the table of the Word and of the Body and the Blood of Christ, we celebrated the Eucharist, the greatest thanksgiving that humanity can express, because it is associated with the gesture of Christ, who offered his life to the Father for the salvation of brothers.

We did so in this Papal Basilica, so dear to the memory of the Christian East, because it is dedicated to the mystery of the Theotokos, the Divine Maternity of Mary, proclaimed with a solemn ceremony, at the time of the undivided Church, during the Council of Ephesus; but also because the liturgical books in the Slavic language were deposited on the altar of this church, at the time of the holy brothers Cyril and Methodius, one of the greatest signs with which the Supreme Pontiffs have intuited the united and plural nature of the one Church of Christ.

The one hundred years of history of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches and of the Pontifical Oriental Institute created, by the happy intuition of your Predecessor Benedict XV, a few months from each other make us see the journey of the Church in time, which understands ever more profoundly the Mystery of Christ her Spouse and Lord and, therefore, is understood in His light with ever greater awareness. Contemplating this liturgical assembly, we see realized, in fact, the affirmation of the Pope one hundred years ago: “This initiative will demonstrate manifestly how in the Church of Jesus Christ  — which is not Latin, or Greek, or Slavic, but catholic – – there is no discrimination among her children  and that all — Latins, Greeks, Slavs and of other nationalities — have the same importance before this Apostolic See.”

The profound unity of intents between the Congregation and the Pontifical Oriental Institute, entrusted since 1922 to the Society of Jesus, from which you also come Holy Father, spells a profound and fecund understanding in addition to a continuous dialogue between what has been studied and reflected upon in the theological, Patristic, spiritual, liturgical, historical and canonistic ambit, and the concrete life of our Eastern Churches. You often remind us how the sons and daughters of the Christian East, although they cannot sit at the same Eucharistic table, in these years have drunk together from the chalice of the passion of martyrdom: our being here, today, around this altar, commits us to pray and to continue in the ecumenical commitment, so that the day will soon come in which the Lord’s prayer Ut unum sint can be fulfilled!

All together, Eastern and Latin Patriarchs, Major Archbishops, Metropolitans, Archbishops and Bishops members of the Dicastery, and the whole Academic Community of the Pontifical Oriental Institute renew their desire to be with You, together with the respective Churches, to continue to put into practice what you asked us the day after your election as Bishop of Rome: to walk, to build, to confess Jesus Christ Crucified.

Thank you, Holy Father.

[Working Translation by ZENIT]

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