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Ecumenical Patriarch receives invitation from Pope to attend World Synod of Bishops, presides at 90th Pontifical Oriental Institute

His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew is greeted by Pope Benedict XVI as he arrives at the Vatican.

During a private conversation when in the Apostolic Palace on March 6, 2008, Pope Benedict XVI extended an invitation to His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to join in the opening of the World Synod of Catholic Bishops at the Vatican and to give an address to the assembly together with the Pope. The assembly will be held in October, focusing on “The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church.”

While the presence of representatives of other Christian Churches and confessions is a normal practice for the synod assemblies, what makes this event significant is the personal invitation extended to His All Holiness to formally address the World Synod of Catholic Bishops.

The Ecumenical Patriarch also has been extended an invitation to take part in the celebration of the Feast Day of Saints Peter and Paul on June 29, in which he and the Pope will inaugurate the year dedicated to the Apostle Paul.

The invitations came prior to the Ecumenical Patriarch’s visit to the Pontifical Oriental Institute. His All Holiness, who gained his doctorate at the same institution, delivered a lecture on “theology, liturgy, and silence,” focusing on how the spiritual experience of Eastern Christianity can promote Christian unity and respond to the needs of modern men and women.

During his address to the Institute, the Ecumenical Patriarch invoked the image used by the late Pope John Paul II by describing the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, which have been separate for centuries, as the “lungs” of Christianity, urging that “the two lungs must function in harmony,” adding that “neither of the two lungs should take provocative initiatives.” He also called on the Pontifical Oriental Institute, which is celebrating the 90th anniversary of its founding, to contribute to the rapproachment between East and West.

Both the Ecumenical Patriarch and Pope have made the healing of the divisions between their respective Churches a priority and demonstrated this with prayers to the Most Holy Theotokos and the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer in the Chapel of Urban VIII near the Papal Library of the Apostolic Palace.

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