I just finished reading Finbarr G. Clancy’s article on “Sailing to Byzantium: Three Papal Visits to Turkey”, in Milltown Studies No 63, Summer 2009, pp. 1-84. Apart from providing a large scope historical overview of the relationships between the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches, he emphasizes the role played by John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI, on the RC side, and Patriarchs Athenagoras, Dimitrios, and Bartholomew on the Orthodox side. It is a recent history of delicate gifts and symbols, of impressive and humble gestures, of real attempts to allow diversity to enrich all of the partners. Moreover, always also the relationships with Turkey and with Islam and Judaism are involved. I found it moving to plough my way through this bit of history.
From an ecological perspective, I can only applaud and encourage these relationships. Patriarch Bartholomew is much more outspoken on planetary environmental issues, and could encourage the Vatican to speak more clearly on the issue. Wouldn’t it be nice to have Benedict XVI, Bartholomew and Rowan Williams – who has been very outspoken on environmental issues – to issue a common statement?