Pope Francis and the Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew I, on Sunday held private talks in Jerusalem and signed a Common Declaration in which they pledged to continue on the path towards unity between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.
Their encounter marked the 50th anniversary of the historic meeting between Pope Paul VI and the Patriarch Athenagoras in 1964. In their joint declaration, Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew said it is their duty to work together to protect human dignity and the family and build a just and humane society in which nobody feels excluded.
They also stressed the need to safeguard God’s creation and the right of religious freedom. The two leaders expressed concern over the situation facing Christians amidst the conflicts of the Middle East and spoke of the urgency of the hour that compels them to seek the reconciliation and unity of the human family whilst fully respecting legitimate differences.