Catholic, Greek Orthodox leaders in U.S. welcome pope-patriarch meeting
May 21,2014:The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and
the primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in America, have welcomed the May 25 meeting
between Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in Jerusalem. Pope Francis'
May 24-26 trip to Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories will commemorate
the January 1964 visit of Pope Paul VI to the Holy Land, and his visit with Ecumenical
Patriarch Athenagoras of Constantinople. The 1964 meeting was a joyful occasion "that
swept aside centuries of hostility and division and has borne good fruit," said Archbishop
Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, who is USCCB president, and Greek Orthodox
Archbishop Demetrios, chairman of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the
United States. In a joint statement released May 15 in Washington, the two archbishops
pointed to a growing closeness between Catholic and Orthodox Christians over the last
50 years that has allowed them "to speak with one voice" on issues facing society.
"We commit ourselves to increased cooperation in these areas, including social, economic
and ethical dilemmas," they said. They called on the faithful of both their churches
to pray for the success of the meeting for the promotion of Christianity in our
wounded world. The 1964 meeting was the first to take place between Latin Catholic
and Orthodox leaders in almost 1,000 years. With their statement, Archbishop Kurtz
and Archbishop Demetrious said they reaffirmed "the dialogue of love initiated" by
the 1964 meeting and would "continue to strive to remove that which separates us.