In 1964, a little-noticed albeit pioneering encounter in the Holy Land between the heads of the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church spawned numerous contacts and diverse openings between the two “sister churches,” which had not communicated with each other for centuries.
Fifty years later, Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew meet in Jerusalem to commemorate that historical event and celebrate the close relations that have developed through mutual exchanges of formal visits and an official theological dialogue that began in 1980. This book contains three unique chapters: The first is a sketch of the behind-the-scenes challenges and negotiations that accompanied the meeting in 1964, detailing the immediate consequences of the event and setting the tone for the volume. The second is an inspirational account, interwoven with a scholarly evaluation of the work of the North American Standing Council on Orthodox/Catholic relations over the past decades. The third chapter presents a recently discovered reflection on the meeting that took place fifty years ago by one of the most important Orthodox theologians of the twentieth century, expressing cautious optimism about the future of Christian unity.
“The 1964 visit to the Holy Land by Pope Paul VI and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras was a watershed event in the history of both the Eastern and Western Churches. The Patriarch and the Pope began a fruitful, respectful, and loving dialogue aimed at healing the divisions that had kept the churches apart for centuries. That dialogue has blossomed and allowed the two churches to draw ever closer. It is not at all surprising that Paul’s and Athenagoras’s successors Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew have chosen to mark the fiftieth anniversary by returning to the Holy Land to celebrate it. This volume sheds light on the significance of that initial shared pilgrimage, highlights the progress made, and points the way toward even greater dialogue—dialogue aimed at fulfilling the Lord’s dream that all might be one.”
—The Reverend Joseph M. McShane, S.J.
President of Fordham University
“The encounter between Pope Paul VI and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras
— Archbishop Demetrios, Ph.D, Th.D,
in Jerusalem in 1964 opened communication between the Orthodox
and Roman Catholic Churches after several centuries of no contact
and created the possibility of sincere theological dialogue. Now,
fifty years later, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and Pope Francis
meet in Jerusalem to honor what their predecessors did in 1964. Their
special encounter will open ways of offering the healing power of the
Gospel in the vital work of addressing the myriad problems that still
afflict the wounded world. This excellent book, by reflecting meaningfully
on the encounter of 1964, will help Christians see the potential of
the encounter of 2014.”
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America