Vatican City, 5 September 2013 (VIS) - “Through you, I greet a Church that was founded upon the witness, even to martyrdom, that Saint Thomas gave to Our Lord Jesus Christ. The apostolic fraternity which united the first disciples in their service of the Gospel, today also unites our Churches, notwithstanding the many divisions that have arisen in the sometimes sad course of history, divisions which, thanks be to God, we are endeavouring to overcome in obedience to Lord’s will and desire”.
With these words, Pope Francis received His Holiness Baselios Marthoma Paulose II, Catholicos of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church of India, who fronts a delegation visiting Rome in these days in order to pray before the tomb of St. Peter, part of a longer trip in Europe. The Pope retraced the history of the relations between Catholics and the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church over the last thirty years, recalling that from these encounters there “began a concrete path of dialogue with the institution of a mixed commission, which brought to birth the agreement of 1990, on the day of Pentecost, a commission which continues its important work and which has brought us to significant steps on themes such as the common use of buildings of worship and cemeteries, the mutual concession of spiritual and even liturgical resources in specific pastoral situations, and the necessity to identify new forms of collaboration when faced with growing social and religious challenges”.
“I wanted to recall some of the steps in these 30 years of the growing closeness between us, because I believe that on the ecumenical path it is important to look with trust to the steps that have been completed, overcoming prejudices and closed attitudes which are part of a kind of 'culture of clashes' and source of division, and giving way to a 'culture of encounter', which educates us in mutual understanding and in working towards unity. Alone however, this is impossible; our weaknesses and poverty slow the progress. For this reason, it is important to intensify our prayer. ... Prayer and commitment in order to let relationships of friendship and co-operation grow at various levels, in the clergy, among the faithful, and among the various churches born from the witness given by St Thomas. May the Holy Spirit continue to enlighten us and guide us towards reconciliation and harmony, overcoming all causes of division and rivalry which have marked our past”.