Pope Encourages Orthodox Conference
Annual Event Takes Up Theme of Spiritual Struggle
VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 4, 2009 (Zenit.org). – Benedict XVI is encouraging an “opportune initiative” being organized to consider the “spiritual struggle” as understood in the Orthodox tradition.
The Pope, through his secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, sent a message to the 17th annual International Ecumenical Conference on Orthodox Spirituality.
He expressed his hopes that the “fraternal gathering” would bring about a renewed awareness of the value of the spiritual struggle as a consequence of the love of Christ, and generous efforts in the ascetic formation of young generations.
The papal message is addressed to Prior Enzo Bianchi of the Monastery of Bose in Italy, which is where the Wednesday through Saturday conference will be held.
“Organized in collaboration with the Orthodox Churches, the conference is an important occasion of discussion on fundamental themes of the spiritual life,” organizers explain.
This year’s theme “touches the very center of a problem that is extremely relevant today. [...] This is the art of the struggle against ‘evil thoughts,’ as tradition defines those negative images, impulses, inclinations that disturb the ‘mind’ by distracting it from the memory of God and pushing it into sin,” they added.
This issue will be at the center of dialogue among theologians, scholars, and representatives of the Orthodox Churches, the Catholic Church, and the Churches of the Reform.
The Catholic Church will be represented by Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, vice dean of the College of Cardinals; Archbishop Antonio Mennini, apostolic nuncio in Russia; Monsignor Brian Farrell, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity; and Jesuit Father Milan Zust, of that same dicastery.
Pontiff Praises Ecumenical Study of St. Augustine
Urges Symposium to Find Points of Convergence
CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 3, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI has urged a symposium bringing together Orthodox and Catholic theologians to study St. Augustine to discover points of convergence between the two traditions.
The Pope said this in a letter he sent today to Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, on the occasion of the 11th Inter-Christian Symposium, which began today in Rome.
The three-day meeting was organized by the Franciscan Institute of Spirituality of the Pontifical University Antonianum and the Aristotle Orthodox Theological Faculty of Thessalonica.
The Catholic-Orthodox symposiums, aimed at promoting unity, have taken place alternatively in locations with Catholic or Orthodox majorities since 1992.
The symposium chose for its current theme of study: “St. Augustine in the Western and Eastern Tradition.”
Benedict XVI noted the topic to be apt for mutual reflection. He explained: “The saint of Hippo, a great Father of the Latin Church, is, in fact, of fundamental importance for theology and for the West’s very culture, whereas the reception of his thought in Orthodox theology has revealed itself to be rather problematic.”
“Hence, to know with historical objectivity and fraternal cordiality the doctrinal and spiritual riches that make up the patrimony of the Christian East and West,” he continued, “it is indispensable not only to appreciate them, but also to promote better reciprocal appreciation among all Christians.”
The Holy Father said he hoped the symposium would be a success, and that “it discovers doctrinal and spiritual convergences that are useful to build together the City of God, where his children can live in peace and in fraternal charity, based on the truth of the common faith.”