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Rome Reports

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Pope and head of Czech and Slovak Orthodox Church speak ecumenism in first meeting

His Beatitude Metropolitan Rastislav, the primate of the Orthodox Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia met with Pope Francis for the first time.  

They embraced each other in the Vatican and gave the typical paschal greeting.     

His Beatitude then delivered a short speech to Pope Francis, focusing on the two disciples Jesus appeared to on the road to Emmaus and ecumenism.  

“The Risen Lord Jesus Himself joined them on their pilgrimage and encouraged them by explaining the Scriptures. They realize their blindness: 'Were not our hearts burning within us while He was talking to us on the road?' Precisely this experience of the community of disciples who walk together as pilgrims on the path of history, filled with precious meaning.” 

The pope responded, also touching on the importance of walking together in an ecumenical relationship.   

“We bless God for the spiritual bonds that unite us and encourage us to continue in mutual building and in the common search for peace, a gift from the Risen One. Between these bonds I would like to evoke the presence here in Rome, in the ancient Basilica of St. Clement, of the tomb of St. Cyril, Apostle of the Slavs, whose preaching spread the faith in the lands where your Church carries out its mission.” 

The pope made reference to the Divine Liturgy they were able to celebrate at the tomb of St. Cyril in the Roman minor Basilica of St. Clement during their week in Rome from May 9-12.    

As a sign of their thanksgiving for their meeting with Pope Francis the primate of the Orthodox Church gave the Holy Father an icon and a decorated bowl. Pope Francis, in turn, gave him a remembrance of all those in war and difficulties and a copy of his papal writings.