That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. John 17:21
The key points in the declaration signed by Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill after their historic meeting on Friday 12 Feb 2016 reported by Crux include:
- An acknowledgement that “we have been divided by wounds caused by old and recent conflicts, by differences inherited from our ancestors.”
- Deep concern for “Christians [who] are victims of persecution.” The two leaders said, “In many countries of the Middle East and North Africa whole families, villages and cities of our brothers and sisters in Christ are being completely exterminated. Their churches are being barbarously ravaged and looted, their sacred objects profaned, their monuments destroyed.”
- A plea for greater inter-religious dialogue: “Differences in the understanding of religious truths must not impede people of different faiths to live in peace and harmony,” the two men said.
- Worry about secular hostility to religion: “We observe that the transformation of some countries into secularized societies, estranged from all reference to God and to His truth, constitutes a grave threat to religious freedom. It is a source of concern for us that there is a current curtailment of the rights of Christians, if not outright discrimination.”
- Defense of immigrants and refugees: “We cannot remain indifferent to the destinies of millions of migrants and refugees knocking on the doors of wealthy nations,” they said.
- A strong call for preserving the “natural family” based on marriage between a man and a woman, and the “right to life,” including opposition to abortion and euthanasia.
- An invitation to “prudence, social solidarity and action aimed at constructing peace” in Ukraine.
In the words of St Benedict "Always we begin again" -
"that the world may believe that thou hast sent me".