Historic Visit of Pope Benedict to the Ecumenical Patriarchate

November 16, 2006

JOHNSTOWN, PA - His Eminence, Metropolitan Nicholas has issued the following statement regarding the upcoming historic meeting of Pope Benedict and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in Constantinople.

To the Very Reverend and Reverend Clergy, and the Beloved Faithful of this God-saved Diocese and Children of the Ecumenical Patriarchate:

Glory to Jesus Christ!

Later this month, Pope Benedict XVI will travel to Constantinople for a meeting with His All-Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. From November 28 until December 1, Patriarch Bartholomew and Pope Benedict will meet in conference.

There is much to be hoped for in this meeting. It is hoped that this discussion will establish the primary way that the Catholic community dialogues with the Orthodox Church. It is clear that, since the breach in 1054 was made by Rome against the Patriarch in Constantinople, any discussion of the healing of this breach should be held by Rome with Constantinople.

It is hoped that old disputes over the meaning of primacy will be at least set on the way toward resolution. The difficulties stemming from the 1870 establishment of "infallibility" may be eased somewhat. And more profound doctrinal disputes, represented by the Roman insertion of the "filioque" clause into the Creed, may be at least clarified.

There is much to hope for. There is also much to be concerned about. The Ecumenical Patriarchate is situated in an unfriendly place. Crowds of protesters routinely clamor for the eviction of the Patriarchate.

It is for these two reasons - for hope and for concern - that I ask for your supplications for the safety and success of this visitation. Pray for peace and protection, and the stilling of tumult. Pray for doctrinal clarity and ecclesial harmony. Pray for history to be made this month, for the glory of God and the aggrandizement of the Apostolic Church. Pray, truly, that "Thy Kingdom come, and Thy will be done".

For this cause, I am directing all priests of the Diocese to include the following special petition in the "Triple Litany" after the Gospel in the Divine Liturgy:

O Holy Father from Whom all blessings flow, we come before You in meekness and bow down: humbly we beseech You to look kindly upon the meeting of Patriarch Bartholomew, Archbishop of Constantinople, and Pope Benedict, Pontiff of Rome. For too long, there has been division and alienation in the Church, when there should have been the unity of the Body of Christ. We beg Your mercy and wisdom, O Lord, to provide for the welfare of the holy churches of God and for their union. Let this occasion of fellowship be for the healing of old disputes. In Your infinite power, protect these Shepherds of the Great and Holy Pasture of Christ. Shield them, and all who attend, from the peril of harm. And in Your matchless grace, establish a bright new work in these latter days, so that the world might see the Face of Christ; so that men and women might repent, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and be saved in the Apostolic Church of God. For these supplications, we humbly beseech You, Holy Father, hear us and have mercy

This is to be done for the Liturgies on the Sundays of November 19 and November 26. This petition may also be used in other Liturgies throughout the respective weeks.

You are also to be aware that Fr. Nectarios Trevino, of our Diocesan Parish in Mannases, Virginia, will be representing our diocese at this historic occasion. Fr. Nectarios along with his son Joshua will be joined by various members of the media to report on this important meeting. Please consult our diocesan website for daily updates regarding this important event, which will include photographs and commentary detailing our delegation's activities and that of His All-Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew and Pope Benedict XVI .