Pope Francis on Saturday received in audience members of the Catholic Committee for Cultural Collaboration, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.
audience was attended by Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the
Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, who provided
the opening remarks. Also present were members of the management
committee of the board which comprises the principle benefactors, and
scholarship students who are studying in Rome.
“The path of
reconciliation and renewed fraternity between the Churches,” said the
Pope in his address, “required the experience of friendship and sharing
that arises from the mutual understanding between members of different
Churches, and in particular the young people initiated into sacred
He went on to praise the work of the committee, and
thanked the many benefactors who have supported its work. He assured
those present that he would remember them in prayer, and asked for their
prayers in exchange.
The Catholic Committee for Cultural
Collaboration was established on 27 July 1964 by Pope Paul VI as one of
the initiatives aimed at “reestablishing fraternal ties between the
Catholic Church and the venerable Eastern Churches”.
committee promotes the exchange of students between the Catholic Church,
Orthodox Churches of the Byzantine tradition and Eastern Orthodox
Churches, who wish to study theology or other ecclesiastical disciplines
at Catholic or Orthodox institutions.
Please find below a full translation of the Pope’s remarks:
dear brothers and sisters,
meet with you at the beginning of this year which marks the 50th
anniversary of the establishment of the Committee for the Cultural
Collaboration with the Orthodox Churches and the Oriental Orthodox
Churches. In particular, I greet Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the
Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, under whose
direct responsibility the Committee acts – and I also thank you for your
words – as well as Monsignor Johan Bonny, Bishop of Anversa, president
of the Committee.
The Second Vatican Council had not yet
concluded when Paul VI instituted the Catholic Committee for Cultural
Collaboration. The path of reconciliation and renewed fraternity between
the Churches, wonderfully marked by the first historic meeting between
Pope Paul VI and the Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras, required the
experience of friendship and sharing that arises from the mutual
understanding between members of different Churches, and in particular
the young people initiated into sacred ministry.
Thus, on the
initiative of the Eastern Section of the then Secretariat for the
Promotion of Christian Unity, this Committee was born. This [Committee],
then as now, with the help of generous benefactors, distributes
academic scholarships to clerics and laity from the Orthodox Churches
and the Eastern Orthodox Churches who desire to complete their
theological studies at academic institutions of the Catholic Church, and
supports other projects of ecumenical collaboration.
my deep gratitude to all the benefactors who have supported and
[continue to] support the Committee. With gratitude, I greet the members
of the Management Committee, convened in Rome for their annual meeting.
Without your valued contribution this work would not be possible.
Therefore, I encourage you to continue in the action that you perform.
May God bless you, and may He make fruitful your appreciated
A special greeting to you, dear students, who are
completing your theological studies in Rome. Your stay in our midst is
important for the dialogue between the Churches of today and, above all,
tomorrow. I thank God because he has granted me this beautiful
opportunity to meet you and tell you that the Bishop of Rome loves you. I
hope that each of you can have a joyful experience of the Church and
the city of Rome, enriched [spiritually and culturally], and that you do
not see yourselves as guests, but as brothers among brothers. I am
certain, that for your part, you by your presence you enrich the
academic communities in which you study.
Dear brothers and
sisters, [be assured that you will be remembered in my prayer, and I ask
you to pray for me and my ministry.] May the Lord bless you and the
Madonna protect you.