December 6, 2014, Saturday — Orthodox and Catholics to Gather at Papal Nunciature

The text below is the Press Release for the 1st Annual Urbi et Orbi Foundation dinner on December 10, 2014, in Washington D.C., at the papal nunciature.


–For Immediate Release–

December 6, Washington, DC — The Urbi et Orbi Foundation will hold its First Annual Christmas Dinner at the nunciature of the Holy See on Massachusetts Avenue in Washington on December 10 at 6:30 p.m. as part of a 2-day spiritual retreat.

The purpose of the dinner is to celebrate Christmas “in the spirit of Pope Francis.”

Francis recently visited Istanbul, publicly embraced the Greek Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, and called for greater unity between Catholics and Orthodox.

Therefore, we are bringing together a number of Orthodox from various Orthodox Churches, along with a number of the Founding Members of the Urbi et Orbi Foundation, most of whom are Roman Catholics, and a number of others of good will, from around the world: from the Philippines, from Russia, from Ukraine, from Belarus, from Greece, from Vatican City, from Mexico, from France, and from the United States.

Our hope is to build small bridges of understanding and cultural cooperation between Catholics and Orthodox, so that we may collaborate together, in keeping with the vision of Pope Francis, on behalf of the poor, refugees, and people suffering from the consequences of violence and war, around the world.

The featured speaker at the dinner with be Bishop Brian Farrell, from Ireland. He is the Secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity.

The dinner is in part a fundraising dinner to raise funds to support scholarships administered by this Vatican Council. The scholarships will allow Orthodox students to study in Rome, and Catholic students to study in Orthodox institutions in Athens, Kiev, Minsk, Moscow, and Istanbul.

Also speaking will be Father Cassian Folsom, OSB, the founder of a Benedictine monastery in central Italy in the town of Norcia, where the original St. Benedict and his twin sister, St. Scholastica, were born.

St. Benedict is the patron saint of Europe because his religious brotherhood kept culture and faint alive in Europe for 500 years after the collapse of the western Roman Empire in 476 A.D.

Father Folsom is regarded by many as a sort of “second Benedict.” He is attempting to restore the 1,500-year-old Benedictine Order, including through the study and use of the old Latin liturgy, in order to confront the great challenges of our own third millennium.

He will offer a spiritual reflection on the roots of our current socio-cultural crisis, which is ultimately a spiritual crisis, diminishing man himself, and diminishing the inner vitality of our cultural productions.

Also speaking briefly will be guests from Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, and elsewhere, on their hopes for peace in that region of the world, a peace that, by working together, the Churches may be able to help bring about.

The dinner will be preceded by a Mass in St. Matthew’s Cathedral at 9 a.m on the morning of December 10, celebrated by Father Folsom. The Mass is open to the public.

The Mass will be followed by a private breakfast and a reflection on Christian unity, as promoted by the monastic spirituality of East and West, by Father Folsom in the rectory of the cathedral.

The Foundation Christmas dinner will then follow at 6:30 p.m. at the Nunciature, at 3339 Massachusetts Avenue. At the dinner, the Christmas carol “Silent Night” will be sung in English, Russian, Ukrainian, Belarussian, Greek, Italian and, in honor of Pope Francis, in Spanish.

On the morning of December 11, from 8 to 11 a.m., there will be a press briefing at the National Press Club on the work of the Urbi et Orbi Foundation. There will be a round-table discussion of three questions:

1) Can Catholics and Orthodox work together to defend the presence of the Christians in the Middle East? If so, how?

2) Can Catholics and Orthodox work together to assist the process of peace in Ukraine? If so, how?

3) Can Pope Francis help in this process, by meeting with Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, and other Orthodox leaders, including, once again, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, in light of the request Francis made, that Bartholomew bless him, and bless the Church of Rome?

For more information about this 2-day retreat/dinner, please call: 202-536-4555.

The Anthropological Question

“You live in a deranged age, more deranged than usual, because, in spite of great scientific and technological advances, man has not the faintest idea of who he is or what he is doing.” —Walker Percy (1916-1990), American Catholic convert and writer, author of The Message in the Bottle and Lost in the Cosmos

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