Pope Francis: Young people ‘can break the chains of antagonism’ between Catholics, Orthodox

Ieronymos II Pope Francis converses with Metropolitan Agathangelos, director general of the Apostolikí Diakonía of the Greek Orthodox Church, at the Vatican on May 16, 2024. | Credit: Vatican Media

Pope Francis has placed in young people his hope that Catholics and Orthodox may be “united in diversity” and “break the chains” of antagonism, misunderstanding, and prejudice that have kept them prisoners for centuries.

In a Thursday audience, the Holy Father received the director-general of the Apostolikí Diakonía of the Orthodox Church of Greece, Metropolitan Agathangelos, and a delegation from the Theological College of Athens.

The Apostolikí Diakonía is the official publishing house and missionary arm of the Orthodox Christian Church of Greece. Since 1936 it has published hundreds of books on Christian theology and tradition, Orthodox spirituality, and biblical studies.

At the beginning of his talk given at the Apostolic Palace of the Vatican, the Holy Father expressed his gratitude for the collaboration between Apostolikí Diakonía and the Dicastery for the Promotion of Christian Unity.

He also addressed a particular greeting to the archbishop of Athens and all Greece, His Beatitude Ieronymos II, who was present at the audience and whom the pontiff described as “a man of deep faith and a wise pastor.”

Pope Francis highlighted that during these last 20 years, “despite times of difficulty, for example, the economic crisis in Greece and the pandemic, the Apostolikí Diakonía and the Catholic Committee for Cultural Collaboration have worked together in promoting projects of common interest on the cultural and educational level.”

He also stressed the need to provide cultural, theological, and ecumenical formation for new generations.

According to the Holy Father, “it is the young, sustained by the hope founded on faith, who can break the chains of antagonism, misunderstanding, and prejudice that for centuries held Catholics and Orthodox back from acknowledging one another as brothers and sisters, united in diversity and capable of bearing witness to the love of Christ, especially in a world so divided and riven by conflict.”

Pope Francis noted that next summer a group of Catholic students will be welcomed at the Theological College of Athens, where they will be “introduced to knowledge of the modern Greek language and the Orthodox Church.”

“By journeying together, working together, and praying together, we prepare ourselves to receive from God the gift of unity that, as a fruit of the Holy Spirit, will be a communion and harmony in legitimate diversity,” the Holy Father concluded.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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