CONSTANTINOPLE – Τhe First Throne Church of Constantinople celebrated its Thronal Feast by honoring the memory of its founder, St. Andrew the Apostle the First Called Monday, November 30. His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew officiated at the Divine Liturgy with co-celebrants Metropolitans Theoliptos of Ikonion and Maximos of Silyvria.
A three-member official Delegation of the Church of Rome was present at the festivities headed by Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. The Delegation of the Autonomous Orthodox Church of Finland, consisting of Archimandrite of the Ecumenical Throne Sergios, Abbot of the Monastery of New Valaam, and Protopresbyter Timo Tynkkynen prayed together with the Prime Minister of Ukraine Denys Shmyhal, who was accompanied by ministers and high-ranking officials of his government.
At the end of the Divine Liturgy, the Ecumenical Patriarch addressed the official Delegation of the Church of Rome, expressing the thanks of the Church of Constantinople and himself to Pope Francis of Rome for the presence of his representatives at the Thronal Feast despite the difficulties still the world faces by the coronavirus pandemic.
The head of three-member delegation of the Church of the Old Rome Cardinal Kurt Koch. (Photo by Ecumenical Patriarchate/Nikos Manginas)
His All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch pointed out that “the difficulties that periodically appear in the ongoing Theological dialogue between Roman Catholic and the Orthodox Church are related to the complexity of the issues discussed, “which for many centuries have occupied and divided the two Churches and theology.”
The Ecumenical Patriarch stressed that “with Pope Francis they have common concerns and common sensitivities, but also identical views to address the great challenges of our time.”
The Patriarch said that “the recent Encyclical of Pope Francis ‘Fratelli Tutti’ impressively highlights the multidimensional concern of the Church of Rome in the face of great social challenges. Three years ago, Our Modesty commissioned a group of respected Orthodox Theologians to compile a text based on the theological and ethical statements made by the Holy and Great Synod of Orthodoxy, based on theological assumptions, positions on social morality in the Orthodox Church, which was published in print and online last March under the title For the Life of the World. The social ethos of the Orthodox Church has already provoked a fruitful debate.”
Patriarch Bartholomew also referred to his recent meeting with Pope Francis, last month in Rome, noting that “every face-to-face meeting with Pope Francis is a special experience of brotherhood, which strengthens the desire and the struggle of both for the progress of the path towards the common Cup of Eucharist.”
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in a private conversation with the Prime-Minister of Ukraine Denys Shmyhal. (Photo by Ecumenical Patriarchate/Nikos Manginas)
Concluding his speech, the Ecumenical Patriarch noted that “the Thronal Feast of the Church of Constantinople is a common feast of the Church of Rome, since their founders, brothers Andrew and Peter, met Jesus Christ together and recognized in His person the Messiah and Savior of the world.”
Cardinal Kurt Koch then read a message from Pope Francis in English, in which he expressed his warm wishes to the Ecumenical Patriarchate for the feast of his patron saint, the Apostle Andrew.
In his message, Pope Francis stated that “he had experienced this spirit of brotherhood during the various meetings he had with the Ecumenical Patriarch, and recalled that the Ecumenical Patriarchate, before the other Churches, with the Synodal Encyclical of 1920, had expressed the wish for greater closeness and understanding among Christians.”
The Ecumenical Patriarch then warmly welcomed the Prime Minister of Ukraine Denys Shmyhal and the members of his cabinet, noting that his presence shows the respect of the people of Ukraine for the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The Ecumenical Patriarch added that he will accept the invitation extended to him by the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy during his recent visit to Phanar and will make an official visit to the country next year, marking the 30th anniversary of its independence. He also warmly welcomed the Delegation of the Autonomous Orthodox Church of Finland.