Pope Benedict XVI is encouraging Catholic and Orthodox Christians to work together in re-evangelizing traditionally Christian countries.
Over the past four days, the symposium has brought together both Catholic and Orthodox scholars in the Greek city of Thessaloniki to discuss the topic of “The witness of the Church in the Modern World.” The Pope described the theme as “very timely and central” to his “concerns and prayers” for a “new evangelization” of traditionally Christian countries where the practice of the Christian faith has declined in recent times.
Christianity was brought to the city of Thessaloniki by St. Paul in the first century. The Pope asked for his intercession that the talks between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches encourage “a climate of fraternal charity,” and observed that the “mutual understanding of our traditions and true friendship are already in themselves a contribution to the cause of Christian unity.”
Pope Benedict also pointed out that the current cultural, social and economic environment “presents the same challenges to both Catholics and Orthodox.” Instead of divisions, these challenges should call forth a Christian evangelizers who are “mature in faith and capable of finding a meeting point beyond the real tensions,” he said, quoting Pope Paul VI.
The Inter-Christian Symposium is co-organized by the Franciscan Institute of Spirituality at Rome’s Pontifical Antonianum University and the Orthodox faculty of theology at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. The initiative hopes to help heal the rift between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches which has persisted since the 11th century.