Saturday, January 11, 2014

Pope welcomes Catholic Committee for Cultural Collaboration

Pope Francis on Saturday received in audience members of the Catholic Committee for Cultural Collaboration, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.

The 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 ministry.”

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”.

The 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 Cardinal,
dear brothersbishops,
dear brothers and sisters,

I 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.

I express 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 collaboration.

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.

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