Audience with Pope Francis of Saint Irenaeus Joint Orthodox-Catholic Working Group

8 Oct 2021

On Thursday 7 October the Holy Father received in private audience the Saint Irenaeus Joint Working Group, a non‒official Orthodox‒Catholic theological dialogue group.

In introductory words [IT], Cardinal Koch highlighted the fact that the group members aim specifically at “seeking together the ways in which our traditions can mutually enrich one another without losing their identity” and to “understanding how ‘contrasts’ between our traditions (Gegensätze’) instead of being “contradictions” (Widersprüche) can become manifestations of the legitimate diversity of theological expressions in our common apostolic faith”.

Thanking the Saint Irenaeus Group for its recent study, entitled “Serving Communion. Re‒thinking the Relationship between Primacy and Synodality”, a copy of which the co‒presidents had presented to him, the Holy Father affirmed in his address that “in the Church primacy and synodality are not two competing principles to be kept in balance, but two realities that establish and sustain one another in the service of communion.  Just as the primacy presupposes the exercise of synodality, so synodality entails the exercise of primacy”.

Pope Francis then reflected that synodality “can be seen as the articulation of three dimensions: ‘all’, ‘some’ and ‘one’. Indeed, “the primatial ministry is an intrinsic element of the dynamic of synodality, as are also the communitarian aspect that includes the whole People of God and the collegial dimension that is part of the exercise of episcopal ministry. Consequently, a fruitful approach to the primacy in theological and ecumenical dialogues must necessarily be grounded in a reflection on synodality: there is no other way”.

The annual session of the Saint Irenaeus Group, presided by Bishop Gerhard Feige of Magdeburgo, Catholic co‒president, and Metropolitan Seraphim (Joantă) of Central and Northern Europe (Romanian Orthodox Church), Orthodox co‒president, took place from 5‒10 October in Rome at the Institute for Ecumenical Studies of the Angelicum. To mark the occasion, the Institute organized on 5 October an ecumenical conference on the document “Serving Communion”.


Photos © Servizio Fotografico | Vatican Media