New York – The historic meeting between Pope Paul VI and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras in Jerusalem in January 1964 was a joyful occasion that swept aside centuries of division and has born good fruit, said Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Archbishop Demetrios, primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in America and chairman of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America, in a joint statement, May 15.
The statement anticipated the May 25 meeting of Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in Jerusalem.
Archbishop Demetrios and Archbishop Kurtz said the growing closeness between Catholic and Orthodox Christians over the last 50 years has allowed them “to speak with one voice” on issues facing society.
“We commit ourselves to increased cooperation in these areas, including social, economic, and ethical dilemmas, and we call our people to pray for the success of the upcoming meeting between Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in Jerusalem for the glory of God and the promotion of Christianity in our wounded world,” the statement said.
Archbishop Kurtz and Archbishop Demetrios highlighted the lifting of the mutual 1054 excommunications between Rome and Constantinople in 1965, the establishment of ongoing national and international Catholic-Orthodox dialogues and the ongoing work to remove divisions between their Churches as fruits of the initial Jerusalem meeting.