“Inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me” (Matt. 25:45)
How wonderful is the common declaration by Pope Benedict XVI and Patriarch Bartholomew I, man may say under the influence of its first reading. However, if he ponders a bit, he will see that many of the positive messages of this declaration are not valid for its Orthodox signers when it comes to the Macedonian Orthodox Church, the Macedonian nation, and the Macedonian man. Naturally, from that moment on these messages are not valid for anyone.
Instead of a meeting in prayer and in dialogue towards full communion, we are witnesses of parting in thoughts and in monologue towards destruction of the church community.
Instead of effacing the ancient anathemas, readiness to pronounce new ones.
Instead of resumption of the theological dialogue, its stalling and obstruction.
Instead of cooperation and common witness before the world for its salvation – war and witness to one’s own passions of the love of glory and power, scandalizing Christ’s least brothers.
Instead of respect for the minorities, their cultural traditions, as well as the rights of every human being, created in the image and likeness of God, and its religious freedom – denial of a whole nation and its cultural tradition, trampling and spitting upon Christ’s image in every Macedonian.
Instead of greeting all other Christians and assuring them of your openness to dialogue and cooperation, you could first try meeting at least for half an hour the Archbishop of Ohrid and Macedonia – your Orthodox brother and a fellow worker in the field of God, the head of the Orthodox Church in the Republic of Macedonia – and then we will start believing you.
from the editorial board of the official website
of the Macedonian Orthodox Church
Common Declaration by Pope Benedict XVI and Patriarch Bartholomew I
“This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it!”
This fraternal encounter which brings us together, Pope Benedict XVI of
1. We have recalled with thankfulness the meetings of our venerable predecessors, blessed by the Lord, who showed the world the urgent need for unity and traced sure paths for attaining it, through dialogue, prayer and the daily life of the Church. Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras I went as pilgrims to
As far as relations between the Church of Rome and the
2. At the time of the plenary session of the mixed Commission for theological dialogue, which was recently held in
3. As Pastors, we have first of all reflected on the mission to proclaim the Gospel in today’s world. This mission, “Go, make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19), is today more timely and necessary than ever, even in traditionally Christian countries. Moreover, we cannot ignore the increase of secularization, relativism, even nihilism, especially in the Western world. All this calls for a renewed and powerful proclamation of the Gospel, adapted to the cultures of our time. Our traditions represent for us a patrimony which must be continually shared, proposed, and interpreted anew. This is why we must strengthen our cooperation and our common witness before the world.
4. We have viewed positively the process that has led to the formation of the European Union. Those engaged in this great project should not fail to take into consideration all aspects affecting the inalienable rights of the human person, especially religious freedom, a witness and guarantor of respect for all other freedoms. In every step towards unification, minorities must be protected, with their cultural traditions and the distinguishing features of their religion. In Europe, while remaining open to other religions and to their cultural contributions, we must unite our efforts to preserve Christian roots, traditions and values, to ensure respect for history, and thus to contribute to the European culture of the future and to the quality of human relations at every level. In this context, how could we not evoke the very ancient witnesses and the illustrious Christian heritage of the land in which our meeting is taking place, beginning with what the Acts of the Apostles tells us concerning the figure of
5. Our concern extends to those parts of today’s world where Christians live and to the difficulties they have to face, particularly poverty, wars and terrorism, but equally to various forms of exploitation of the poor, of migrants, women and children. We are called to work together to promote respect for the rights of every human being, created in the image and likeness of God, and to foster economic, social and cultural development. Our theological and ethical traditions can offer a solid basis for a united approach in preaching and action. Above all, we wish to affirm that killing innocent people in God’s name is an offence against him and against human dignity. We must all commit ourselves to the renewed service of humanity and the defense of human life, every human life.
We take profoundly to heart the cause of peace in the Middle East, where our Lord lived, suffered, died and rose again, and where a great multitude of our Christian brethren have lived for centuries. We fervently hope that peace will be re-established in that region, that respectful coexistence will be strengthened between the different peoples that live there, between the Churches and between the different religions found there. To this end, we encourage the establishment of closer relationships between Christians, and of an authentic and honest interreligious dialogue, with a view to combating every form of violence and discrimination.
6. At present, in the face of the great threats to the natural environment, we want to express our concern at the negative consequences for humanity and for the whole of creation which can result from economic and technological progress that does not know its limits. As religious leaders, we consider it one of our duties to encourage and to support all efforts made to protect God’s creation, and to bequeath to future generations a world in which they will be able to live.
7. Finally, our thoughts turn towards all of you, the faithful of our two Churches throughout the world, Bishops, priests, deacons, men and women religious, lay men and women engaged in ecclesial service, and all the baptized. In Christ we greet other Christians, assuring them of our prayers and our openness to dialogue and cooperation. In the words of the Apostle of the Gentiles, we greet all of you: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Cor 1:2).
At the Phanar, 30 November 2006
Benedict XVI Bartholomew I