Pope Francis ’ visit to the Holy Land this May will be focused on his meeting with Patriarch Bartholomew I, the Eastern Orthodox archbishop of Constantinople, and Ecumenism with the Orthodox Churches.
I am thrilled that Pope Francis is focusing an Ecumenism with the Orthodox. Recent Popes
have made real strides in the process and Pope Francis has the capacity to really build on
these foundations. We all need to become more aware of what we already share. So much
of the divisiveness is about more technical disagreements and past hurts and political
differences that need to be transcended. The most important shared reality is the most holy
Eucharist - Christ’s Real Presence in our Churches. Christ’s prayer for Unity set the bar
incredibly high "That they may be One in Me, Father -as You and I are One. No greater Unity is even conceivable! This is what we need to build on. If we really focus on this Unity everything else will fade into insignificance. Things like the Apostles argued over "Who is first in the Kingdom? etc. Christ made it clear as for Lording it over others -“It shall not be so with you.” The Pope is the Touchstone of our Faith - the Head of the Church is there
in the Eucharist in every Parish Church. The Holy Father is the Vicar for Unity among those Churches. .
This is good news as we will see more photos, embraces, and expressions of good will between the two leaders. I guess it is too much to hope that they could move beyond that and actually restore full communion between the two Churches at this meeting.
Yes, unfortunately it is too much to hope. His All-Holiness, Patriarch Bartholomew, even if he did personally accept “terms” of full communion, does not have the authority to impose such terms on the other Orthodox Churches. Such an agreement would have no hearing, for example, on the Russian Orthodox Church which comprises the vast majority of the world’s Orthodox Christians.
Brick by brick.