Many not familiar with the painful history between the Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Churches will not realize how important and encouraging is the relationship between these two visionary church leaders in our time.
In a joint declaration signed by Pope Francis and Bartholomew after the divine liturgy to commemorate the Feast of Saint Andrew the Apostle, the leaders expressed concern for the increasingly volatile situation in both Syria and Iraq, and urged the international community not to turn away from their responsibility to those being oppressed and driven from their homes.
“Many of our brothers and sisters are being persecuted and have been forced violently from their homes”, the text read. “It even seems that the value of human life has been lost, that the human person no longer matters and may be sacrificed to other interests. And, tragically, all this is met by the indifference of many.”
They also highlighted the importance of inter-faith dialogue and religious tolerance and freedom, calling for “constructive dialogue with Islam based on mutual respect and friendship.”