USCCB President Archbishop Kurtz Sends Letter To Ecumenical Patriarch On Eve Of Historic Council
17 June 2016
WASHINGTON—USCCB President Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, has sent a letter of greeting to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople on the occasion of the convocation of the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church.
Due to take place on the Greek island of Crete from June 18 to 27, the holding of the Council is the culmination of more than fifty years of preparation. "We are aware that over the past several decades an enormous effort has been made to convene this Council, and we rejoice with you that these efforts have reached fruition," the Archbishop writes.
Noting that the work of the Council will have great importance also beyond the Orthodox Church, the USCCB President states that all Christians await new insights "that draw upon the rich and ancient Tradition that is yours." He concludes with a re-affirmation of the need to work for Christian unity, and assures the Patriarch that "the Holy and Great Council will be very much in our thoughts and prayers in the coming days."
The full text of the letter is below.
Your All Holiness,
Gathered together in special assembly in Orange County, California, with my brother bishops of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, we turn our thoughts to Your All Holiness, the primates of the other Orthodox churches and the other bishops who will be participating in the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church on the island of Crete in just a few days' time. We are aware that over the past several decades an enormous effort has been made to convene this Council, and we rejoice with you that these efforts have reached fruition.
The topics that Your All Holiness and the other Orthodox bishops will be considering are of the greatest importance not only for the Orthodox Church but also for other Christians. All of us await Orthodox insights on these matters that draw upon the rich and ancient Tradition that is yours.
In particular, we look forward to new perspectives on the relationship between the Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church. Along with Pope Francis, it is our desire to deepen the fellowship that already exists between us, and to find new ways to work together for the benefit of our world that needs the Good News of Jesus Christ so much.
Along these lines, we were deeply moved by the recent images of Your All Holiness, Pope Francis, and Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece visiting the island of Lesbos to offer support and encouragement to the many refugees who have arrived there. Pope Francis has often observed that it is in caring for the needy together that ecumenism is most meaningful. We make our own your affirmation with the Pope and the Archbishop in the April 16 Common Declaration that "we firmly and wholeheartedly resolve to intensify our efforts to promote the full unity of all Christians."
Your All Holiness can be sure that all the Orthodox bishops gathering together at the Holy and Great Council will be very much in our thoughts and prayers in the coming days.
Sincerely in the Lord,
Most Reverend Joseph E. Kurtz, D.D.
Archbishop of Louisville
President, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops