Pontiff's Birthday Takes on Ecumenical Tone
He Receives Patriarch of Constantinople's Delegate
VATICAN CITY, APRIL 16, 2007 (Zenit.org).- On his 80th birthday, Benedict XVI received in audience Metropolitan Ioannis Zizioulas of Pergamum, who delivered a letter from Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople.
According to statements made to the press today by Metropolitan Zizioulas, the letter from the patriarch proposes that the Pope support the meeting in the Italian city of Ravenna to inaugurate the working sessions of the Catholic-Orthodox Commission for theological dialogue that will take place Oct. 7-15.
The metropolitan added that representatives from all the Orthodox Churches will be present at the meeting.
"Among ourselves we have the same faith and the same tradition. The more important theme that we have to face is the primacy of the bishop of Rome, that is to say, the role of the Pope," he told the Italian newspaper La Repubblica.
"For some it is a problem without solution," the metropolitan added. "I, however, believe that a solution can be found."
Metropolitan Zizioulas continued: "The issue is to define well the place of the bishop of Rome in the structure of the universal Church. The Orthodox are prepared to accept the idea of a universal primate and, according to the cannons of the ancient Church, the bishop of Rome is the 'primus.'"
"According to the Orthodox vision," he clarified, "it is a universal primate that always acts in communion with the synod" of the various Churches.
The Orthodox patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, Alexy II, also sent birthday greetings to the Pope, wishing him in a letter good health, a long life and the help of God in his spiritual ministry.