Monastery of Bose (Italy), 18 August 2017


On the occasion of the openingof the XXV International Ecumenical Congress on Orthodox spirituality, I wish to send to you, organizers and participants, my cordial greeting. In particular, I wish to convey a warm embrace of peace to His Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch, my dear brother Bartholomew, and to His Beatitude Theodore, Patriarch of Alexandria: your important presence honours the 25 years of the Congress, organized by the Monastery of Bose in collaboration with the Orthodox Churches, and confirms its contribution to the shared path to full unity. This year’s theme “The Gift of Hospitality” is suggestive and current. It is true, hospitality is a gift, a gift above all that we have received: we are guests of a world created for us and which must be protected, but we are passengers here below, foreigners on earth, since we are invited guests, expected in heaven, where our citizenship is to be found (cf. Ph 3:20).

In the meantime, as pilgrim disciples, we are called to fix our gaze on that which does not disappear, on charity that will never end (cf. 1 Cor 13:8), on welcoming each other as gifts of the Lord, on fostering mutual care and affection, on “having compassion, sharing in the pain of those who suffer, considering as evil the specific misfortunes of others” (N. Cabasilas, La vita in Cristo, VI, 8). I hope that this call can be revived through humble and sincere listening and through the reflections of these days, so that sentiments of fraternity may grow ever more and an authentic “hospitality of the heart” may mature, so that while we walk together towards the Kingdom, we will be encouraged to take more courageous and concrete steps to full unity.

With these sentiments, I invoke upon you and on the work of the Congress the abundance of the gifts of the Spirit, while I ask you to remember me in your prayers.


From the Vatican, 18 August 2017