At the invitation of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, Archbishop Gintaras Grušas, President of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences, participated in Istanbul at the celebration of Temperance Day, which in the Orthodox calendar kicks off the Pentecost celebrations. Bartholomew called for ever greater cooperation with the CCEE, especially in the light of the “unholy war” that is taking place in Ukraine and, in particular, within the Forum for Dialogue between the Orthodox Churches in Europe and the CCEE.
During his homily at the celebration held on 5 June, Patriarch Bartholomew thanked the CCEE President for his presence “during such a festive period, in which we celebrate, more than any other time of the ecclesiastical year, our Lord’s call to unity, offers a tangible proof of the fraternal relations between our two sister Churches and of the significant steps that have been made towards the direction of our long-desired and God-pleasing unity”.
Recalling the hospitality he received in Lithuania last March, on the occasion of the meeting organised by the Group for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue of the European People’s Party, Bartholomew also thanked the Archbishop of Vilnius for his “moving support, both moral and material, to the clergymen of our Exarchate in Lithuania, in their efforts to re-establish the historic presence of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in your hospitable country”. During those days, in fact, the Patriarch established an Exarchate of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in Lithuania.
In the course of his homily, Bartholomew also referred to the “ongoing unholy war in Ukraine” that “makes even more significant and timely the bond between our Churches in Lithuania, the land, which takes pride for its heroic struggles in defence of freedom, especially against the Soviet-Russian oppression” and wished that “our productive cooperation will continue and will be equally effective also at the Forum of Dialogue between the Orthodox Churches in Europe and the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences of the Roman Catholic Church (CCEE)”.
“We pray – concluded Bartholomew – that together with our Orthodox co-President, His Eminence Archbishop Nikitas of Thyateira and Great Britain, you will be able to fruitfully work at the Forum in order to give the good testimony of our Christian faith on contemporary and pressing social issues in Europe”.
Photo of the celebration (Ecumenical Patriarchate website).