On Monday 11 September, the Holy Father received in the Vatican Apostolic Palace His Holiness Baselios Marthoma Mathews III, Catholicos of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church.
After a private conversation and the presentation of the Malankara Delegation, an exchange of speeches took place.
In his address of greeting [IT], Catholicos Mathews III recalled the stages of dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, thanking the Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity for its commitment. The Catholicos also mentioned the upcoming assembly of the Synod of Bishops on synodality, stressing that its theme, “finds deep resonance in our convictions and aspirations". "For our Church, synodality is not just a contemporary concept, but is embedded in the very fabric of our ecclesiastical identity. We affirm with unwavering conviction that synodal dimensions are not only deeply rooted in Sacred Scripture, but are also doctrinally fundamental to the growth and spiritual well-being of the Church".
Responding to His Holiness Mathews, the Holy Father emphasised the role of the International Joint Commission for Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, and recalled the importance of the 1990 Joint Christological Declaration as well as the 2010 Pastoral Agreements. Referring to the Catholicos' speech, Pope Francis said that "on our journey towards full unity, another important path is that of synodality". "In a certain sense, the ecumenical movement is contributing to the ongoing synodal process of the Catholic Church, and it is my hope that the synodal process can, in turn, contribute to the ecumenical movement. Synodality and ecumenism are in fact two paths that proceed together, united by a common goal, that of communion, which means a more effective witness by Christians “so that the world may believe” (Jn 17:21)," the Holy Father stated.
The meeting concluded with an ecumenical prayer in the Redemptoris Mater Chapel, presided over by Pope Francis and Catholicos Mathews III.
On this occasion, the whole delegation of His Holiness Mathews III was present: His Eminence Youhanon Mar Chrysostomos, Holy Synod Secretary, Metropolitan of the Diocese of Niranam.; His Eminence Youhanon Mar Demetrios, President of the Department for Ecumenical Relations and Metropolitan of the Diocese of Delhi; His Eminence Abraham Mar Stephanos, Vice President of the Department for Ecumenical Relations and Metropolitan of the Diocese of the United Kingdom, Europe and Africa; Cor Episcopa Philip Thomas, President of the Council of Churches of Malaysia; Revd Fr Saji Varughese, Priest Trustee; Revd Fr Johnson Baiju, Secretary of the Catholicos; Revd Fr Aswin Fernandis, Secretary of the Department for Ecumenical Relations; Revd Fr Jacob Mathew, Working Committee Member; Mr. Biju Oommen, Church Association Secretary; Mr. George Alexander, Working Committee Member; and Mr. Kevin George Koshy, Programme Secretary for International Affairs.
On behalf of the DPUC, Cardinal Kurt Koch, Prefect, Bishop Brian Farrell, Secretary of the Dicastery, and Fr Hyacinthe Destivelle, OP, Official, participated in the meeting with Pope Francis. Also present were His Excellency Emidio Cipollone and members of the Episcopal Council of the Archdiocese of Lanciano-Ortona, where the relics of St. Thomas the Apostle are kept.
Photos © Servizio Fotografico | Vatican Media