ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS BASELIOS MARTHOMA PAULOSE II
CATHOLICOS OF THE MALANKARA ORTHODOX SYRIAN CHURCH
TO HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS
Thursday, 5 September 2013
Your Holiness, most Venerable Brother in Christ,
Praising the Triune God, let me humbly greet Your Holiness in the name of the Bishops, Clergy and the Faithful of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church of India. I thank God for this occasion for us to meet each other in the first year of your blessed pontificate, in this city sanctified by the martyrdom of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul. People of goodwill everywhere are rejoicing in the gracious words of Your Holiness and the way in which you exemplify the pastoral ministry of Christ our Good Shepherd.
My illustrious predecessors in the Indian Catholicate of the See of Apostle Thomas, His Holiness Baselios AugenI had the privilege of receiving His Holiness Pope Paul VI in Bombay in 1964, and His Holiness Catholicos Marthoma MathewsI visited His Holiness Pope John Paul II in Rome, and also received the Blessed Father at the Mar Elia Orthodox Cathedral at Kottayam in 1986. Since that time, with the instruction and blessing of both the Heads of Churches we have the ongoing bilateral Dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Malankara Orthodox Church.
Participation of the representatives of the Malankara Orthodox Church in the conciliar process of the Catholic Church since the Vatican II has been of crucial importance in the growth of our mutual understanding. At the Second Vatican Council Fr. K. Philipose (later Metropolitan Mar Theophilos), Fr. Paul Verghese (later Metropolitan Mar Gregorios) and Dr.C. T.Eapen were “Observers”. Fr.K.M.George participated as “fraternal delegate” in the Millennium Synod of Asian Bishops in 1998 and the Synod of Bishops in 2008 at the Vatican. Being a founding member of the World Council of Churches the Malankara Orthodox Church has had several other avenues of conversing with the Catholic Church through the Faith and Order Commission and other commissions of the WCC.
The Malankara Orthodox Church, faithfully rooted in the apostolic tradition of the holy Apostle Thomas in India, is committed to the true unity of our churches as willed by Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. In the broader frame of unity of all Christians, I have a special dream for the unity of Christians in the St Thomas tradition. Wherever possible and appropriate, we are willing to cooperate with our sister churches in ministering to the pastoral needs of the people, particularly the poor and the marginalized. Some of the present pastoral issues may be resolved on the basis of the common tradition that existed before the unfortunate division in the Indian church in the 16th century.
I particularly acknowledge the valuable contributions of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity in fostering our bilateral relations. By arranging mutual visits, encouraging theological dialogues, providing scholarships for theological students and above all respecting the Orthodox identity of our Indian Church, the Council fruitfully promotes our search for true unity in mutual respect and Christian love.
Although Christians are a small minority in India and Asia in general we have the great task of witnessing to the life giving Gospel of Christ by caring for the poor and the downtrodden, by nurturing peace, justice and communal harmony and by working with and learning from the great spiritual-ethical traditions of India. In all this the Indian Catholic and Orthodox churches can fruitfully cooperate in the bond of love.
My venerable Elder Brother in Christ, I gladly join Your Holiness in your deep prayer for peace in our world, especially in Syria, the Middle East, and Asia. With great joy and hope, we invite Your Holiness to visit India, and we offer our humble prayers to God our Father that your blessed ministry may continue to inspire our churches in the power of the Holy Spirit and bring new hope for humanity at large.
Glory be to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, One true God, now and for evermore.
[Information Service 142 (2013/II) 8]