Having received the news of the forthcoming meeting between His Holiness Pope Francis and His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and of All Russia, Cardinal Péter Erdő, president of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences, wanted to express his joy at this historic meeting by sending a letter to Patriarch Kirill.
The text of the letter is as follows:
With great joy I have received the news of the forthcoming meeting, by the grace of God, between His Holiness Pope Francis and Your Holiness, on 12 February at Cuba’s José Martí International Airport, a meeting that will conclude with the signing of a joint declaration.
This historical meeting, which thus happily seals years of dialogue between the Holy See and the Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church, is also a source of comfort to CCEE in its decision to enter into that dialogue. Along with Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, President of the Patriarchate of Moscow’s Department of External Church Relations, we have collaborated a great deal in the creation and realisation of the European Catholic-Orthodox Forum, an ecclesial body aimed at promoting better pastoral collaboration between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches in Europe, with preparations for the fifth Forum already underway.
The Church in Europe is looking to this event as a further step towards unity and the joint witness of Christians. Therefore, I implore the Lord’s blessing on this meeting, that it may have a fruitful outcome, and I assure you of my prayers for this important step towards the unity of the Church and especially for the Russian Orthodox Church.
Your Holiness, on behalf of the Council of European Episcopal Conferences I assure you of the prayers of the Catholic Church in Europe and that we will be following with great interest and joy your meeting with Pope Francis.
Péter Cardinal Erdő
Archbishop of Esztergom- Budapest
President of CCEE