The pope sends a message each year on Nov. 30 to the Ecumenical Patriarch, who is regarded as the successor of St. Andrew the Apostle and “first among equals” in the Eastern Orthodox Church.
In this year’s message, Pope Francis recalled his recent meetings with Bartholomew I in Rome. The patriarch joined the pope at an interreligious prayer gathering for peace in front of the Colosseum and in signing a joint appeal at the Vatican asking countries to “achieve net-zero carbon emissions as soon as possible.”
“It was a source of joy for me that during your recent visit to Rome we were able not only to share our concerns regarding the present and future of our world but also to express our shared commitment to addressing issues of crucial significance for our whole human family, including the care of creation, the education of future generations, dialogue among the different religious traditions and the pursuit of peace,” Francis said.
“In this way, we as Pastors, together with our Churches, strengthen the profound bond that already unites us, since our common responsibility in the face of current challenges flows from our shared faith in God the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth; in the one Lord Jesus Christ, his Son, who became man for our salvation, died and rose from the dead; and in the Holy Spirit, Lord and giver of life, who harmonizes differences without abolishing them.”
Pope Francis’ message to the Ecumenical Patriarch comes days before the pope departs for an apostolic visit to the predominantly Orthodox countries of Cyprus and Greece.
During his travels to the Mediterranean countries on Dec. 2-6, the pope will meet with Chrysostomos II, the Orthodox archbishop of Cyprus, and Ieronymos II, archbishop of Athens and All Greece.