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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Pope Francis, retired Pope Benedict praise Patriarch Bartholomew

Defending religious freedom, fighting indifference to attacks on human dignity and promoting care of creation are obligations that Orthodox and Catholics share and areas where Pope Francis said he and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople are in deep harmony.

In anticipation of the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Orthodox patriarch’s election on 2nd November, Pope Francis and retired Pope Benedict XVI joined a group of religious and civic leaders in contributing to a book, Bartholomew: Apostle and Visionary, published by the US-based Thomas Nelson.

The Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, published the texts written by Pope Francis and Pope Benedict on 12th October.

In many meetings, Pope Francis wrote, the two ‘have not only strengthened our spiritual affinity, but above all have deepened our shared consciousness of the common pastoral responsibility we have at this point in history before the urgent challenges that Christians and the entire human family face today’.

At their first meeting, in March 2013, Pope Francis said he felt he was encountering someone ‘who in his person and his manner expresses all the profound human and spiritual experience of the Orthodox tradition’.

The relationship has grown and deepened both personally and on the level of their ministries, the pope said.

Picture: Pope Francis embraces Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople during an ecumenical prayer service with religious leaders in the Basilica of St Francis in Assisi, Italy, on 20th September. (CNS photo/Paul Haring).