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For the first time, a Pope donates a relic of St. Peter outside Rome

An unprecedented gesture: Pope Francis, following the established ceremony repeated each year by the representative of the Ecumenical Throne and the Pope at the Church of Rome’s Thronic Feast, both went to worship at the tomb of Apostle Peter in St. Peter’s Basilica. There, the Pope whispered to Archbishop Job of Telmessos that he wanted to send a gift to Constantinople to his brother Bartholomew, a gift for which his inspiration came during the evening prayer on the day of the Thronic Feast.

These were relics of St. Peter, contained in a reliquary placed in the pontifical chapel of the papal apartments of the so-called Vatican Apostolic Quarter.

The fact of this donation comes just one week after the conference held in Naples on June 20 and 21, on the importance, value and contribution of theology to the modern world, and especially to the Mediterranean world. A conference to which the Patriarch had sent an important message, and Pope Francis told delegates and journalists that “Brother Bartholomew is a precursor to many ideas that we, too, have embraced.”

This declaration and the gift of yesterday therefore take on an important and significant dimension in the common course that the two Churches have set out to coordinate their spiritual powers in order to cope with the challenges of an economically globalized world that pushes human existence and the person to the sidelines for the benefit of the speculation and greed of the few.

The Ecumenical Patriarch himself had stated in his message that the purpose and duty of the Churches is to support an economic development based on dialogue, justice and truth, rejecting any manipulation of truth and avoiding the commercialization of human existence.

This is why the latest gesture of the Pope leads to a further closeness of the first-throned Churches, as well as to the strengthening of the cultural relations of the two historical capitals of Christianity, Rome and New Rome, in their common course, against those who want to ignore society as a whole for the benefit of the individual alone.

The signs of the times would characterize these movements. The scholar Gabriel Arnellos was convinced as early as 1978 that only by an ecumenical movement of the two sister Churches could mankind orient itself to the content and the value of the real freedom, which does not tolerate divisions and inequalities, as Europe, with the commercialization of the Christian message, like Greece will have no reason to exist, due to the upcoming global upheavals and the rising power of China.

Evangelos Venizelos, in a text in 2000 on state-church relations, emphasized that the Ecumenical Patriarchate is not simply a state institution, but represents the historical continuity of the Nation, and as such should be taken into account.


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