Photo: Pope John Paul II and Ecumenical Patriarch Dimetrios, November 30, 1979.
Photo courtesy of the Archives of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
The official meetings of the Primates of the Churches have always been ecclesiastical events of great importance, for the reinforcement, and hopefully, the restoration of the unity of faith in the nexus of love. Such visits are in accordance with the commandment of the Divine Founder of the Church, our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Ecumenical Patriarchate, with its open and ecumenical spirit, developed a series of ecumenical initiatives of historical importance in the well-known Encyclicals of 1902, 1904 and 1920. These encyclicals aimed at the unity of all Christians in the communion of faith and sacraments. These initiatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchate have led to a Theological Dialogue of the Orthodox Church with the sister Roman-Catholic Church “on equal terms.”
It has been the goal that beyond all other fraternal gestures, the mutual visits of Popes to Constantinople and Ecumenical Patriarchs to Rome have marked a new era in the relations between the two Churches. It has helped in the understanding of the people of God, that there be effort, from both sides, for the achievement of the unity, so “that all may be one”,
The visit of Pope John Paul II of Rome to the Ecumenical Patriarchate (29-30 November 1979)
On 30 November 1979, the feast day of the Holy and Glorious Apostle Andrew, the First-Called, and also Feast Day of the Throne of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Pope John Paul II of Rome, of blessed memory, together with his entourage, visited the Ecumenical Patriarchate and attended the Divine Liturgy that was celebrated in the Patriarchal Cathedral. The Pope was welcomed by Patriarch Demetrios of blessed memory, together with all the Synodical and local Hierarchs, as well as with other Hierarchs from abroad.
In the Joint Declaration of the Pope and the Patriarch, which was issued in the Phanar on 30 November, after the end of the discussions of the two Primates and with the participation of members of the two Commissions on the Dialogue, they stressed their gratitude to their Predecessors, Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras. They stated that the Theological Dialogue does not aim only at the restoration of full communion between the two sister Churches, Roman-Catholic and Orthodox, but also at the unity of the entire Christian world.
If you would like more information about efforts between the East & West of Christiandom to achieve unity, here is a link to these famous meetings: