Pope Francis receives in audience a Delegation of the Russian Orthodox Patriarchate of Moscow and says he is praying for unity.

Pope Francis on Wednesday received a delegation from the Russian Orthodox Patriarchate in Moscow and expressed hope for full Christian unity, saying it is the path to peace.

Expressing his wish to follow “the path of unity”, the Pope said unity is the only path of fruitful promise, whilst “the path of division leads to war and destruction”.

He expressed his commitment never to allow an attitude of division to spring from the Catholic Church, and calling the Orthodox Patriarch Kirill his “dear brother” he said: “In Moscow, Russia, there is only one Patriarchate: yours. We will not have another.”

Path of unity, not uniatism

Pope Francis also said that the path of uniatism is not the path to walk today, and reiterated his belief that ecumenism, which is achieved by walking together, is the path towards Christian unity.

“Let’s walk” he urged, commenting on the fact that some believe that first there must be doctrinal agreement, even though it is not known when such an agreement will be signed.

He said it is important to continue to study theology, in order to provide clarity where there are sticking points, but at the same time, to continue walking.

The Pope urged the delegation to continue to walk in charity and in prayer, praying always for dialogue.

Pope Francis recalled the February 2016 meeting in Cuba, which he said “did him much good”, with the Orthodox Patriarch Kirill, in whom – he said – he found a brother.

Respect for Russian Orthodox Church

In conclusion, the Holy Father underscored the respect the Catholic Church has for its Russian Orthodox brothers and reiterated its intention not to interfere in the internal affairs of the Russian Orthodox Church. “Those who do not obey this order,” he said, “do not obey the Holy See”.

Finally, he called on all those present to pray personally for each other, and said he keeps the relic of Saint Seraphim given to him by the Patriarch on his bedside table, and that every night and every morning he prays for unity.

By Linda Bordoni

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