Pope and Patriarch in Constantinople

by Mike on November 30, 2006

in Religion

The most important event of Pope Benedict’s visit to Turkey occurred early this morning when the Pope attended the celebration of the divine Eastern liturgy led by the Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I. I caught portions of the beautiful service on television and was blown away. During the service, both men expressed a strong desire to restore full communion between the two great churches. Following the service, there was joint blessing by the Pope and Patriarch.

The expression of these sentiments was historic, given the fact that the two churches have been apart for nearly 1000 years. Although real differences between West and East remain, they are not nearly as deep as the divisions between Catholic and Protestant churches. Both Benedict and Bartholomew seem genuinely committed to reversing the damage done in 1054. Although much work remains, the churches are the closest they’ve been in centuries to restoring One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Unfortunately, most media stories from the Papal visit to Turkey focus on Benedict’s diplomacy toward Islam. A search of news stories involving Pope Benedict uncovers more stories about his visit to the Blue Mosque and quotations of Emperor Manuel than the Divine Liturgy. Although important, Pope Benedict’s diplomatic relations with non-Christians was not the point of the visit. Here, two churches based on Apostolic tradition are making real progress on healing a rift that has officially existed since 1054. However, due to the media’s left wing, secular and short sighted worldview, they’re missing the real story.

Reuters photo

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Jewels November 30, 2006 at 9:40 pm

Mike, thanks for this great post and the picture. Unity of all Christians may not happen in our lifetime, but wouldn’t it be wonderful if steps were made to bring the various Christian groups together in unity? I have heard from both Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox clergy (I am Eastern Orthodox.) that the differences between these two religions was largely based on politics (who was in charge at the time). Although the WAY we worship is different, many of the beliefs of Orthodox and Catholics are the same. It is refreshing to see leaders in both churches getting together.

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Ryan December 1, 2006 at 8:48 am

I completely agree that the media missed a huge story by solely focusing on the Pope apologizing, the nervous tour of Hagia Sophia, and the protesters following the pontiff everywhere he went. There was even a story today about the Pope praying “east” like Muslims (saying Christian prayers, of course).

As a history teacher, I loathe the short-sighted nature of today’s media, missing significant historical developments in the place of political hit-pieces. True, the Catholic and Orthodox churches are just talking, but that in itself is big in lieu of today’s religious struggles and strife– which is another point that the media misses: the religious nature of today’s world conflicts.

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