His All Holiness, Bartholomew, the Ecumenical Patriarch, today called for a greater dialogue between faith groups while visiting St Mary’s University, Twickenham.
During a lecture in St Mary’s Chapel, the spiritual head of the Orthodox Church outlined the three key initiatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchate: improving interfaith dialogue; promoting religious freedom; and sustaining the planet’s resources.
Speaking about interfaith dialogue the Ecumenical Patriarch paid tribute to the Pope saying: “The recurring encounters and exchanges with our beloved brother, Pope Francis, have signaled and sealed our obligation and dedication to solidarity in the world as well as our fidelity to tradition and our responsibility for unity in the Church.”
His All-Holiness went on to say “The role of religion in a changing world [is] to promote freedom among human beings as the basis of encounter and communion.”
The Ecumenical Patriarch then argued for the need to protect planet’s resources in order for interfaith dialogue to be sustained. “We firmly and fervently believe that, in the struggle to save our planet, everyone without exception – irrespective of confessional or religious conviction – must be included and involved.”
After his lecture, the Ecumenical Patriarch was awarded the St Mary’s Pope Benedict XVI medal, the highest award that St Mary’s University can bestow, in recognition of His services in promoting ecumenical dialogue between the churches and reconciliation with all creation.
The lecture marked the fifth anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to St Mary’s and was followed by a tour of the University campus.
Chair of St Mary’s board of governors, Bishop Moth, said “It has been an honour to receive His All-Holiness on behalf of our Chancellor Cardinal Vincent Nichols. His St Mary’s lecture was inspiring and, I hope, will encourage a wider religious dialogue in a world that is becoming increasingly fragmented.”
Vice-Chancellor of St Mary’s University, Francis Campbell said “Having received Pope Benedict XVI in 2010, welcoming the Ecumenical Patriarch has been another prestigious and proud day for St Mary’s. Encouraging dialogue between faiths and denominations is a primary ambition for our University and the visit of His All Holiness has helped to unite the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.”
His All-Holiness, Bartholomew, is the 270th and current Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, he is the “first among equals” and the spiritual leader of an estimated 300 million Orthodox Christians worldwide.