Hopes rise that pope, patriarch meeting renews Christian unity effort
BY FRANCIS X. ROCCA
Catholic News Service
ROME (CNS) — The Orthodox bishop who is coordinating the upcoming pilgrimage to Jerusalem by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople said he hopes the patriarch’s May 25 meeting with Pope Francis will give new impetus to efforts for Christian unity.
But he also said the two leaders are likely to discuss a range of common concerns, including the predicament of Christians in the Middle East, conservation of the natural environment, and defense of the traditional family.
“We hope that this will not just be a meeting like others, but we hope that this will give a new horizon for the relations between our two sister churches,” Orthodox Metropolitan Emmanuel of France told Catholic News Service in Rome. “In a divided world, we need unity.”
Patriarch Bartholomew, considered first among equals by Orthodox bishops, is a natural dialogue partner for Pope Francis because the two men share important personal qualities, Metropolitan Emmanuel said.
“Both leaders are very charismatic,” he said. “Both are leaders that look and think beyond what we do and what we think. They have a vision.”
At the same time, he added, “both have their feet down to earth. They feel the need. They are close to mankind.”
Orthodox Metropolitan Emmanuel of France is the coordinator of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew’s pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the meetings with Pope Francis May 25. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
Metropolitan Emmanuel, a former president of the Conference of European Churches, said he expected the two religious leaders would discuss the Orthodox-Catholic ecumenical dialogue, as well as matters of “general interest,” including Christians in the Arab world.