To mark the sixth anniversary of the historical meeting in Havana in 2016 between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill, a round table was held on 12 February 2022 at the Centre spirituel et culturel orthodoxe russe in Paris on the theme “The Role of Sanctuaries and Pilgrimages in Orthodox‒Catholic Dialogue”.
The event, which was jointly organized by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Department for External Church Affairs of the Moscow Patriarchate, was co‒presided by Cardinal Kurt Koch, PCPCU President, and Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, President of the Department, with the participation of the Apostolic Nuncio in France, Archbishop Celestino Migliore. Presentations were made by Monsignor Patrick Chauvet, Rector‒Archpriest of the Cathedral of Notre Dame of Paris, and Metropolitan Antonij, Patriarchal Exarch for Western Europe, together with other relators attending either in‒person or online.
In his address [FR], Cardinal Koch expressed the hope that “the anniversaries of the meeting between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill, and above all the day’s reflection on the theme of the pilgrimage and the sanctuary as a form of ecumenical support, may contribute to enabling the Orthodox Church of Moscow and the Catholic Church of Rome to become increasingly a community on a synodal journey towards rediscovering unity in faith”. Indeed, “the more we move towards the eschatological goal of our pilgrimage and walk together this path in a procession of faith, the more we ourselves will find one another other”.
The themes selected for the anniversary of the Havana meeting have been inspired by the Joint Declaration of Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill. To date, these have included “A Year Later: The Dialogue Continues” (Fribourg, Switzerland, 2017); “Christians Persecuted in the Middle East” (Vienna, 2018); “Death and Dying in a Technological Society: Between Biomedicine and Spirituality” (Moscow, 2019); “The Saints – Signs and Seeds of Unity” (Rome, 2020). Due to the healthcare emergency in 2021, the anniversary was celebrated online on the theme “The Church and the Pandemic: Challenges and Perspectives”.
Photos © Daniel Naberejny