Patriarch Bartholomew and Pope Benedict Welcome Pilgrimage let by Metropolitan Methodios and Bishop McManus


His All Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew welcomed to the Patriarchate on Sunday, September 19 a Spiritual Pilgrimage led my His Eminence Metropolitan Methodios of Boston and His Excellency Most Reverend Robert McManus of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Worcester, MA.  The Pilgrimage to the Ancient Sees of Sts. Peter and Andrew consists of Orthodox and Catholic participants.

At the Patriarchate, Metropolitan Methodios said, "This is the third pilgrimage of Roman Catholic and Orthodox laymen that I have led together with a brother Catholic hierarch.  The first was with Cardinal Law, the second with Cardinal O'Malley and this one with Bishop Robert McManus of Worcester. This pilgrimage has a particular significance because, as you recall, the Orthodox-Roman Catholic Dialogue in America took place in Worcester, co-chaired by the late Archbishop Iakovos and Bishop Bernard Flanagan of Worcester.

“Many of the pilgrims visit the Ecumenical Patriarchate for the first time. Today, as we celebrate the Sunday after the great feast of the Elevation of the Holy Cross, we heard the hymns so beautifully chanted by the choirs referring to the meaning of the Cross.  We all prayed that Your All Holiness continue to be inspired as you hold high the Cross of the Savior in a world wounded by pain, violence and terrorism. As you bear the heavy Cross of the Great Church of Christ upon your shoulders, we will pray that you be strengthened by Him who preached love and forgiveness.”

Responding to Metropolitan Methodios’remarks, His All Holiness said:

“Your Eminence Metropolitan Methodios and Your Excellency Bishop Robert J. McManus of Worcester, our beloved brothers in Christ our Lord,

“Dearest visitors to the Phanar, friends and pilgrims,     

“It is indeed a delight for us to welcome you once again to the Ecumenical Patriarchate, to the courtyard of the Church of Constantinople, New Rome. We are deeply touched by your extensive spiritual journey through renowned historical cities of Christianity, a journey that has brought you here through distinguished centers of prominence from the earliest Apostolic times through the golden age of the Fathers. And from here, the Church established by St. Andrew, you are leaving for Rome, the Church founded by Andrew’s brother Peter.

“You have already heard much about the history – both past and present – of this remarkable city that borders two continents in its magnificent legacy and extraordinary significance. You have been informed about this region, where the writers of the New Testament, particularly John (the Apostle of love) and Paul (the Apostle to the nations), left their indelible mark. It is here, too, that the early Councils formulated the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, the fundamental principles of our Christian faith. And it is from here that Christendom spread to the north (in Russia and the Slavic lands) and the far east (in India and beyond).  

“In our age, as you are well aware, the Church of Constantinople and the Church of Rome have initiated a dialogue of love (with the exchanges of Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras and Popes John XXIII and Paul VI) and the dialogue of truth (with the theological dialogue established under Ecumenical Patriarch Dimitrios and Pope John Paul II). This conversation constitutes a treasure that, along with Pope Benedict XVI, we value highly, protect lovingly, and pursue diligently.          

“Nonetheless, we have learned over time that centuries of unfortunate division and theological disagreement cannot be reconciled simply through intellectual debate. On the contrary, they must be healed through genuine repentance and prayer. More especially, they must be resolved by education and illumination on – what people frequently refer to as – the “grass roots” but which we prefer to call the pastoral or parish level.   

“This is precisely why your presence here today is critical for Christian unity. For not only have you undertaken a pilgrimage of personal and spiritual learning by visiting historical cities, such as Smyrna, and Ephesus, as well as Constantinople and Rome. But your trip also comprises an invaluable step in the process of reunification, a priceless gem in the mosaic of the Church as the Body of Christ, as you span the geographical and cultural distance between east and west.          

“May God bless your beloved spiritual leaders, together with all of you and your families. Safe travels.  And safe return to your homes.”

After Constantinople, the Pilgrimage traveled to Rome where the pilgrims visited the Vatican, had an audience with Pope Benedict, and visited many sites.  The pilgrims will return to Boston on Saturday, September 25.