Pope Pledges to End Orthodox Rift

CNN reports Pope pledges to end Orthodox rift:

“I want to repeat my willingness to assume as a fundamental commitment working to reconstitute the full and visible unity of all the followers of Christ, with all my energy,” he said to applause from the estimated 200,000 people at the Mass.

Words aren’t enough, he said, adding that “concrete gestures” were needed even from ordinary Catholics to reach out toward the Orthodox.

“I also ask all of you to decisively take the path of spiritual ecumenism, which in prayer will open the door to the Holy Spirit who alone can create unity,” he said.

Benedict has said previously that reaching out to the Orthodox and other Christians would be a priority of his papacy, and his call to ordinary Catholics to take the charge as well built on that agenda. . . .

In his greetings at the start of the Mass, Archbishop Francesco Cacucci of Bari referred to the city’s Orthodox ties, saying the arrival of St. Nicholas’ bones in 1057 “built a bridge between the East and West that neither time nor divisions have ever demolished.”

“Even in these days, many brothers of the eastern churches have been united with us, encouraging us to continue with renewed commitment and enthusiasm on the path of prayer and ecumenical dialogue,” the archbishop said.

In a bid to improve relations, the Vatican’s top ecumenical official, Cardinal Walter Kasper, proposed this week at the Bari conference to hold a synod, or meeting of Catholic and Orthodox bishops, news reports said.

Father Vladimir Kuciumov, rector of the Russian Orthodox Church in Bari, said Benedict had already made a good start toward improving relations with the Orthodox in some of his inaugural homilies and speeches.

“We hope for the best,” he said in a telephone interview Sunday. “We still have to see, but there is a hope to improve our relations.”

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