Relations between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church
The Vatican, June 16, 2007
Blessed be God and Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places (Eph 1: 3).
1. We, Benedict XVI, Pope and Bishop of Rome, and Chrysostomos II, Archbishop of Nea Justiniana and All Cyprus, full of hope for the future of our Churches relations, thank God with joy for this fraternal meeting in our common faith in the Risen Christ. This visit has enabled us to observe how these relations have increased, both at a local level and in the context of the theological dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church as a whole. The Delegation of the Church of Cyprus has always made a positive contribution to this dialogue; among other things, for instance, in 1983 it hosted the Coordination Committee of the International Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue, so that in addition to doing the demanding preparatory work, the Catholic and Orthodox Members were able to visit and admire the great spiritual riches and wealth of art works of the Church of Cyprus.
2. On the happy occasion of our fraternal encounter at the tombs of Sts Peter and Paul, the coryphaei of the Apostles, as liturgical tradition says, we would like to declare of common accord our sincere and firm willingness, in obedience to the desire of Our Lord Jesus Christ, to intensify our search for full unity among all Christians, making every possible effort deemed useful to the life of our Communities. We desire that the Catholic and Orthodox faithful of Cyprus live a fraternal life in full solidarity, based on our common faith in the Risen Christ. We also wish to sustain and encourage the theological dialogue which is preparing through the competent International Commission to address the most demanding issues that marked the historical event of the division.
For full communion in the faith, the sacramental life and the exercise of the pastoral ministry, it is necessary to reach substantial agreement. To this end, we assure our faithful of our fervent prayers as Pastors in the Church and ask them to join us in a unanimous invocation that they may all be one
so that the world may believe (Jn 17: 21) .
3. At our meeting, we reviewed the historical situations in which our Churches are living. In particular, we examined the situation of division and tensions that have marked the Island of Cyprus for more than 30 years, with its tragic daily problems which impair the daily life of our communities and of individual families. More generally, we considered the situation in the Middle East, where the war and conflicts between peoples risk spreading with disastrous consequences. We prayed for the peace that comes from the heavenly places. It is the intention of our Churches to play a role of peacemaking in justice and solidarity and, to achieve all this, it is our constant wish to foster fraternal relations among all Christians and loyal dialogue between the different religions present and active in the Region. May faith in the one God help the people of these ancient and celebrated regions to rediscover friendly coexistence, in reciprocal respect and constructive collaboration.