In a letter he sent Thursday to Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Pope Benedict XVI has underscored that the teachings of St. Augustine are a path seeking unity with the Orthodox.
The message from the Pope was sent to Cardinal Kasper as the 11th Inter-Christian Symposium gathered in Rome. The meeting was organized by the Franciscan Institute of Spirituality of the Pontifical University Antonianum and the Aristotle Orthodox Theological Faculty of Thessalonica.
In his message, the Holy Father expressed his gratitude for “this initiative of fraternal encounter and exchange on the common aspects of spirituality, which is beneficial for a closer relationship between Catholics and Orthodox.”
After noting that the location of the meeting in Rome provides a “strong stimulus to advance toward full communion and above all, the memory of the Apostles Peter and Paul,” Pope Benedict XVI explained that the meeting’s theme, “St. Augustine in the Western and Eastern Tradition,” is "most interesting for reflecting further on Christian theology and spirituality in the West and in the East, and on its development.”
“The Saint of Hippo, a great Father of the Latin Church, is, in fact, of fundamental importance for theology and for the West's very culture, whereas the reception of his thought in Orthodox theology has revealed itself to be rather problematic,” the Pontiff said. “Hence, to know the doctrinal and spiritual riches that make up the patrimony of the Christian East and West with historical objectivity and fraternal cordiality, is essential not only for appreciating them, but also for promoting better reciprocal appreciation among all Christians”
After expressing his desire that the symposium be a success, Pope Benedict XVI offered his “prayer for this end, asking the Lord to bless the organizers and the institutions they represent, the Catholic and Orthodox speakers and all the participants.”