Catholics and Orthodox Face Common Challenges

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI said Catholics and Orthodox have a duty to show a united front of mature faith in facing challenges intensified by increased secularism.

In a letter to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, the pope said Catholics and Orthodox are faced with “the exact same challenges, whether of a cultural, social, economic, political or ecologic nature.”

The message of Jesus Christ must be renewed in those areas that “today are suffering the effects of a secularization that impoverishes man in his most profound dimensions,” the pope wrote.

The pope said the shared principles of Orthodox and Catholics could help overcome obstacles along the ecumenical path in confronting such problems.

“Faced with such an urgent task, we have the duty to offer humanity an image of people who, having acquired a mature faith, can come together despite human tensions,” thanks to a common search for truth and the shared understanding that “future evangelization depends on united testimony given for the church,” he said.

The pope’s message was carried to Patriarch Bartholomew in Istanbul by Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, who led a Vatican delegation to a celebration of the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle, the patriarchate’s patron saint.

The pope told Patriarch Bartholomew that he “saved in his heart” the memory of their last meeting during October’s peace pilgrimage to Assisi. He emphasized how the prayers of Catholics were the same as those of Orthodox in calling for peace in the world, prosperity of the church and “the unity of all those who believe in Christ.”

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