Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios met Pope Francis on Sunday in Jerusalem, the first meeting between the spiritual leaders of Christian Orthodoxy and Catholicism in 50 years, and signed a joint pledge to pursue dialogue which bolstered values shared by both their churches.
The two men held a joint prayer for Christian unity at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the holiest site in Christendom, after making a landmark pledge to work together to boost unity between Eastern and Western branches of Christianity which have been at odds for a millennium.
The two leaders embraced and kneeled in prayer on the Stone of the Anointing, where the body of Jesus is said to have been laid out before burial.
In an eight-point declaration, the leaders noted that “our fraternal encounter today is a new and necessary step on the journey toward the unity of communion… in legitimate diversity.” The signing of the landmark pledge was attended by representatives of 13 Catholic and Orthodox churches.
Apart from boosting communication between the two churches, the pledge underlined the leaders’ commitment to fostering dialogue, respect and the protection of the environment.