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Your Eminences and Excellencies,
Esteemed members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Spain,
Dear Brothers in Christ,
It is an honor and a privilege to stand before you today, following our meaningful and enriching dialogue. This encounter has served as a testament to the strength and purpose that unites our respective Churches, to answer the Lord’s commandment “that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” (John 17:21)
The bilateral dialogue between our two Sister Churches is a beacon of hope and a demonstration of our commitment to Christian unity, understanding, and reconciliation. Through dialogue for over fifty years, we have made extraordinary progress, building bridges of rapprochement, instead of erecting walls of separation, and overcoming centuries-old ecclesial differences and theological controversies. The vital steps we have taken together, from the 1964 opening of a “dialogue of love,” which in 1979 became a “dialogue of truth,” are an irreversible commitment that inspires us in our common journey towards full ecclesial communion.
In this process, the Ecumenical Patriarchate has always played a crucial role, advocating for dialogue, fostering understanding, and upholding the fundamental principles of love and unity that are at the core of our shared ecumenical quest. Upholding the hope and the courage demonstrated by Pope Paul VI and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras of blessed memory during their initial encounter in Jerusalem in 1964, we need to open our hearts and minds to the language of dialogue. This is the ultimate condition for the restoration of unity among Christians.
As we reflect on the steps we have taken thus far, on the theological level as well as in terms of spiritual advocacy, especially with our brother His Holiness Pope Francis, for the protection of the natural environment, it is evident that we still have much to accomplish in order to bear witness to the Kingdom of God. We must continue to nurture the seeds of dialogue and compassion that we have sown. Our restored unity can be seen not only in our theological conversations and but also in our collective efforts to bring about peace, solidarity and reconciliation in the world.
In this regard, we take the opportunity to renew our recent heartfelt and fervent call for peace in the Middle East. This region, which is not only for us Christians a Holy Land, but also sacred to the three Abrahamic religious traditions, is marred by horrific tragedies and suffering. Let us recommit ourselves to fostering peace and justice in the Middle East, but also in Ukraine and across the globe. May our efforts be guided by the light of faith, the wisdom of God, and the boundless love that unites us as brothers and sisters in Christ.