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An ecumenical honor for Boston

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Since the Patriarch of Constantinople is spiritual leader of 250 Million Orthodox Christians worldwide, it is highly significant that his representative to the Holy Father in Rome this June 29 is none other than the Greek Orthodox Bishop of Boston, His Eminence Metropolitan Methodios.

This year, Boston is going to Rome...by way of Constantinople.

Since the "removal from the midst and memory" of the anathemas between the Catholics and the Orthodox Christians on Dec. 7, 1965, the journey to restoring the full communion which existed in the first millennium has included both a "Dialogue of Truth" and a "Dialogue of Love." In the Dialogue of Love a significant component is comprised by the many gestures of accompaniment and prayer together. One of the greatest of these gestures is the ongoing exchange of delegations between Rome and Constantinople for the feast day of the patron saints of those two Churches. The Holy Father in Rome welcomes the Patriarch of Constantinople or his representatives at the liturgy and feast of Sts. Peter and Paul every June 29, just as the pope's representative is welcomed at the Ecumenical Patriarchate on the Feast of St. Andrew Nov. 30. Since the Patriarch of Constantinople is spiritual leader of 250 Million Orthodox Christians worldwide, it is highly significant that his representative to the Holy Father in Rome this June 29 is none other than the Greek Orthodox Bishop of Boston, His Eminence Metropolitan Methodios.

In Rome, the Holy Father received and embraced Metropolitan Methodios. Pope Francis gave an address to the delegation, highlighting the role of Sts. Peter and Paul as models of evangelization for all Christians. He also said that Orthodox and Catholics meet on the common holy ground of mercy: "Acknowledging that the experience of God's mercy is the bond uniting us means that we must increasingly make mercy the criterion and measure of our relationship." Furthermore, the Holy Father specifically thanked the Metropolitan for "the fruitful work accomplished by the North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation of which Your Eminence is Co-President." Metropoltian Methodios brought the Holy Father a letter from the Patriarch. His Eminence presented the Holy Father with a round-arched icon of Sts. Peter and Andrew embracing, inscribed on the back for the occasion. St. Peter and St. Andrew were brothers. Since the pope occupies the See of St. Peter and the Ecumenical Patriarch in Constantinople holds the See of St. Andrew, the embrace of the two brother-apostles symbolizes the embrace between the Churches of Rome and Constantinople. The Holy Father in turn gave the delegation a bas-relief bronze medallion of St. Martin of Tours, describing how the artwork manifested the mission of both Orthodox and Catholics to the poor. Afterwards, the Holy Father hosted the delegation led by Metropolitan Methodios for lunch. Since the Orthodox just completed a worldwide synod, which was over 50 years in the making, no doubt this was part of the conversation.

Normally on June 29 Cardinal Sean and the Archdiocese of Boston welcome Metropolitan Methodios here at the celebration of Sts. Peter and Paul -- often either at the Pastoral Center in Braintree or in one of the parishes that have hosted the celebration. In recent years, St. Joseph Parish in Needham has offered beautiful liturgical settings for this feast. Of course, we will not have this honor this year since Metropolitan Methodios will be away leading the delegation representing the worldwide communion of Eastern Orthodoxy at the Vatican. This year for the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, the Metropolitan will be represented at the Pastoral Center by a delegation led by Father Dimitrios Tonias, Ph.D., rector of the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Boston. His Excellency Bishop Arthur L. Kennedy, Ph.D., Auxiliary Bishop of Boston, will preside and Father Tonias, together with the delegation from the Metropolis, will be hosted afterwards by the Office for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs.

VITO NICASTRO, PH.D., IS ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR OF THE OFFICE FOR ECUMENICAL AND INTERRELIGIOUS AFFAIRS OF THE ARCHDIOCESE OF BOSTON.

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