Common Declaration Pope John Paul II and Patriarch Dimitrios I
Vatican, 7 December 1987
We, Pope John Paul II and the Ecumenica! Patriarch Dimitrios I, give thanks to God who has granted us to meet in order to pray together with the faithful of the church of Rome, venerable by the memory of the principal apostles Peter and Paul, and to converse with one another concerning the life of Christ's church and its mission in the world.
Our meeting is a sign of the fraternal spirit which exists between the Catholic church and the Orthodox church. This brotherly spirit which has been manifested on numerous occasions and in diverse ways, does not cease to grow and to bear fruit for the glory of God. We experience again the joy of being together as brothers (cf. Ps. 133). As we give thanks "to the Father of lights from whom every perfect gift comes" (cf. James 1:17), we pray and we invite all the faithful of the Catholic church and of the Orthodox church to intercede with us before God: may he bring to perfection the work which he has begun among us! In making our own St Paul's word, we exhort them: "Make my joy complete by living in full harmony" (Phil. 2:2). May the heart of all be constantly disposed to receiving unity as a gift which the Lord makes to his church”.
We express our joy and satisfaction in talking note of the first results and the positive evolution of the theological dialogue announced at the time of our meeting at the Phanar on 30 November 1979. The documents accepted by the mixed commission constitute important points of reference for the continuation of the dialogue. Indeed, they seek to express what the Catholic church and the Orthodox church can already profess together as their common faith regarding the mystery of the church and the bond between faith and sacraments. Since each of our churches has received and celebrates the same sacraments, they perceive better that, when unity in faith is assured, a certain diversity of expressions, often complementary, and of proper usages does not create an obstacle but enriches the life of the church and the understanding, always imperfect, of the mystery revealed (cf. 1 Cor. 13:12).
In view of these first results of the effort, undertaken in common, in "the obedience of faith" (Rom. 1:5), to re-establish full communion between the Catholic church and the Orthodox church, we thank and encourage the members of the mixed commission for theological dialogue. We desire that the faithful be informed of this in order that they may-give thanks to God, may join in prayer to the Lord "that all may be one" (John 17:21), may remain vigilant in intercession and may grow together in faith and hope. We desire as well that advances of the dialogue may bring Catholics and Orthodox to grow in better mutual understanding and in greater charity. By preaching, catechesis and theological formation oriented in this direction, the dialogue will bear all its fruits in the people of God.
We beseech the Spirit of the Lord, who at Pentecost manifested unity in the diversity of tongues, to "lead us to the whole truth" (cf. John 16:13) and to ensure that solutions will be found to the difficulties which still hinder the full communion which will be made manifest to the eucharistic celebration.
Our meeting takes place in this year of the twelfth centennial of the second council of Nicea prepared by a long collaboration without rift between the church of Rome and the church of Constantinople, which caused the Orthodox faith to triumph. The churches of East and West, through the centuries, have celebrated together the ecumenical councils which have proclaimed and defended "the faith handed on to the saints once and for all" (Jude 3). "Called to one single hope" (Eph. 4:4), we await the day willed by God when refound unity will tie celebrated and when full communion will be established by a concelebration of the Lord's eucharist.
We renew before God our common commitment to promote the dialogue of charity in every possible manner, following the example of Christ in nourishing his church and surrounding it with the solicitude of his charity (cf. Eph. 5:29). In this spirit, we reject every form of proselytism, every attitude which would or could be perceived as a lack of respect.
This creative charity leads us to collaborate for justice and peace both on the global as well as on the regional and local level. It urges us not to limit this collaboration but to open it out beyond Christians to all those who, in other religions, search for God, his justice and his peace. It makes us ready to work together for the welfare of humanity with all people of good will. Indeed, the church's mission towards the world which Christ comes to save implies the defence of human dignity wherever it is directly or indirectly called into question in a multitude of ways: among others, by the misery which hinders a decent life; by everything which impedes the life of couples and of families, the basis of the whole of society; by the limitation of the freedom of individuals and communities to live and profess their faith and develop according to their own culture; by the use of and traffic in human beings, youths in particular, in order to gratify the lust of others or to make them slaves lo drug addiction; by a pursuit of pleasure beyond moral limits; by the fear which generates the existence of means which gravely damage the integrity of creation; by racist ideologies denying the fundamental equality of all before God, ideologies particularly inadmissible for Christians who must reveal to the world the face of Christ the Saviour and thus aid it to overcome its contradictions, its tensions and its anguish because they believe that Cod so loved the world that he gave his own Son in order that all might be saved by him (cf. John 3:16-17} and become in him one single body where they are members one of another (cf. Rom. 12:5).
In these moments full of joy when we experience a profound spiritual communion which we wish to share with the pastors and faithful both of the East and the West, we raise our hearts to him who Is the Head, Christ. It is from him that the whole body acts in harmony and agreement thanks to the structures which serve it according to an activity divided in keeping with the capacity of each one. Thus the body realizes its proper growth. Thus it builds itself up in love (cf. Eph. 4:16). May all glory be given to God through Christ in the Holy Spirit!
Common Declaration Pope John Paul II and Bartholomew, Ecumenical Patriarch
Vatican. 29 June 1995
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing" (Eph. 1:3). 1. We also thank God for this brotherly meeting of ours which took place in his name and with the firm intention of obeying his will that his disciples be one (John 17:21). Our meeting has followed other important events which have seen our churches declare their desire lo relegate the excommunications of the past to oblivion and to set out on the way to re-establishing full communion. Our venerable predecessors Athenagoras I and Paul VI became pilgrims to Jerusalem in order to meet in the Lord's name, precisely where the Lord, by his death and resurrection, brought humanity forgiveness and salvation. Subsequently, their meetings at the Phanar and in Rome have initiated this new tradition of fraternal visits in order to foster a true dialogue of charity and truth. This exchange of visits was repeated during the ministry of Patriarch Dimitrios when, among other things, the theological dialogue was formally opened. Our new-found brotherhood in the name of the one Lord has led us to frank discussion. a dialogue that seeks understanding and unity.
2. This dialogue - through the joint international commission — has proved fruitful and has made substantial progress. A common sacramental conception of the church has emerged, sustained and passed on in time by the apostolic succession in our churches, the apostolic succession is fundamental to the sanctification and unity of the people of God. Considering that in every local church the mystery of divine love is realized and that this is how the church of Christ shows forth its active presence in each one of them, the joint commission has been able to declare that our churches recognize one another as sister churches, responsible together for safeguarding the one church of God, in fidelity to the divine plan, and in an altogether special way with regard lo unity.
We thank the Lord of the church from the bottom of our hearts because these affirmations we have made together not only hasten the way lo solving the existing difficulties, but henceforth enable Catholics and Orthodox to give a common witness of faith.
3. This is particularly appropriale on the eve of the third millennium when, 2000 years after the birth of Christ, all Christians are preparing to make an examination of conscience on the reality of his proclamation of salvation in history and among men.
We will celebrate this great jubilee on our pilgrimage towards full unity and towards that blessed day, which we pray is not far off, when we will be able to share the same bread and the same cup, in the one eucharist of the Lord.
Let us invite our faithful to make this spiritual pilgrimage together towards the jubilee. Reflection, prayer, dialogue, reciprocal forgiveness and mutual fraternal love will bring us closer to the Lord and will help us better to understand his will for the church and for humanity.
4. In this perspective we urge our faithful, Catholics and Orthodox, to reinforce the spirit of brotherhood which stems from the one baptism and from participation in the sacramental life. In the course of history and in the more recent past, there have been attacks and acts of oppression on both sides. As we prepare, on this occasion, to ask the Lord for his great mercy, we invite all to forgive one another and to express a firm with that a new relationship of brotherhood and active collaboration will be established.
Such a spirit should encourage both Catholics and Orthodox, especially where they live side by side, to a more intense collaboration in the cultural, spiritual, pastoral, educational and social fields, avoiding any temptation to undue zeal for their own community to the disadvantage of the other. May the good of Christ's church always prevail! Mutual support and the exchange of gifts can only make pastoral activity itself more effective and our witness to the gospel we desire to proclaim more transparent.
5. We maintain that a more active and concerted collaboration will also facilitate the church's influence in promoting peace and justice in situations of political or ethnic conflict. The Christian faith has unprecedented possibilities for solving humanity's tensions and enmity.
6. In meeting one another, the pope of Rome and the ecumenical patriarch have prayed for the unity of all Christians. In their prayers, they have included all the baptized who are incorporated into Christ, and they have asked for an ever deeper fidelity to his gospel for the various communities.
7. They bear in their heart a concern for all humanity, without any discrimination according to race, colour, language, ideology or religion.
They therefore encourage dialogue, not only between the Christian churches, but also with the various religions, and above all with those that are monotheistic.
All this doubtless represents a contribution and a presupposition for strengthening peace in the world, for which our churches, pray constantly. In this spirit, we declare, without hesitation, that we are in favour of harmony among peoples and their collaboration, especially in what concerns us most directly; we pray for the full realization of the European Union, without delay, and we hope that its borders will be extended to the East.
At the same time, we make an appeal that everyone will make a determined effort to solve the current burning problem of ecology, in order to avoid the great risk threatening the world today due to the abuse of resources that are God's gift.
May the Lord heal the wounds tormenting humanity today and hear our prayers and those, of our faithful for peace in our churches and in all the world.