Sixty top Roman Catholic and Christian Orthodox clerics gathered for a week in Belgrade, Serbia, to renew theological dialogue this week, after talks broke off six years ago.
"East and West have been estranged from each other since the 11th century," said Orthodox Metropolitan John Zizioulas, according to The Associated Press. The schism of 1054 created the two churches of Rome and Constantinople - now Istanbul, Turkey.
"It is time to recover the ancient unity,” he reportedly said, adding that, because of the new political reality in Europe, East and West must now also meet on the political level.
Cardinal Walter Kasper said the two churches should turn to their "unity in God, one faith, one baptism."
Metropolitan Zizioulas emphasized that the two churches ask God for the strength to put behind them the errors and misgivings of the past. Cardinal Kasper also called for "forgiveness, purification of our memory of bad things, from both sides."
A release from the Vatican this morning said that two central and interconnected questions will be addressed by the meeting, “the primacy of the Bishop of Rome and the theme of ‘uniatism (regarding Eastern Churches who maintain their own Rites, but acknowledge the supremacy of the Pope).’”
Top Roman Catholic and Orthodox clerics declared Monday the time has come to heal the rifts between the two churches and to seek unity.