Catholic, Orthodox have a relationship as sister churches, says Pope
VATICAN, Jun. 19, 2006 (www.totalcatholic.com) - Just as Sts. Peter and Andrew were brothers, the Catholic and Orthodox churches have a special relationship as true sister churches, Pope Benedict XVI said.
After Christ's death and resurrection, St. Peter left Jerusalem for Rome in order to carry out the universal mission Jesus entrusted to him, the pope said during his June 14 weekly general audience.
St. Andrew, fluent in Greek, went to the Greek world, he said, and became the "apostle of the Greeks."
The Gospels show that in their life and death, Sts. Peter and Andrew were "true brothers" and that their brotherhood is expressed "symbolically in the special rapport between the sees of Rome and Constantinople, churches (that are) truly sisters," Pope Benedict said.
Before a crowd of more than 35,000 pilgrims in St. Peter's Square, the pope continued a series of talks on the apostles by turning to St. Andrew, patron saint of the Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarchate of Constantinople.
His June 14 talk came less than a week after bishops of the patriarchate expressed concern over the pope's decision to drop "patriarch of the West" from his official titles in the Vatican yearbook.
The Orthodox bishops' synod said in a June 8 statement, "It is of extreme importance to the Orthodox church that Pope Benedict, while having rejected the title 'patriarch of the West,' retained the titles 'vicar of Christ' and 'supreme pontiff of the universal church.'"
The synod said these titles still create serious difficulties for the Orthodox since the titles seem to imply "a universal jurisdiction of the bishop of Rome over the entire church, which is something the Orthodox have never accepted."
"By retaining these titles and discarding the 'patriarch of the West' the term and concept of 'sister churches' between the Roman Catholic and Orthodox church becomes hard to use," they said.