The logic of encounter – Editorial, Director of "L’Osservatore Romano"
The journeys of Francis are of vital
importance and, as such, they take as their main model those of his Predecessor
Paul vi and of that innovative
papacy half a century ago. The same import that has been evident from his
journey to Lampedusa and up to his very recent trip to Strasbourg, also marked
Pope Francis’ visit to Turkey, in accordance with the particular measure
typical of Bergoglio: the logic of personal encounter.
Pope evoked this concept as he spoke at the end of the Divine Liturgy
celebrated in Fanar for the Feast of St Andrew, and the entire itinerary which
led the Pontiff from Ankara to Istanbul should be read in the context of
encounter. The journey was, on one hand, directed toward Muslims and, on the
other, toward sister Orthodox Churches. And holding these two sides together
was a mysterious truth: the Holy Spirit.
is in fact the Spirit who gives life to the Church, Francis recalled as he
celebrated a Holy Mass for Catholic faithful from various rites who gathered in
the Cathedral of Istanbul, where he also met with refugees, because it was not
possible for him to visit to a refugee camp. Those he met were displaced
primarily from Syria and Iraq, finding shelter in Turkey in order to protect
themselves against terrorist brutality. “Only the Holy Spirit is able to kindle
diversity, multiplicity and, at the same time, bring about unity”, Francis
observed, adding that it is the same Spirit who brings harmony.
the soul of the Church — and thus of the mission, to which one can only truly
respond by going out of oneself — the Spirit moves her by the breath “which
does not transmit a power, but rather an ability to serve in love, a language
which everyone is able to understand”. Here, in the breath of the divine
Spirit, also lies the root of his journey, emphasized by the strength of the
conciliar years and directed toward friendly encounter with every human being,
without distinction of faith or of ideology.
the logic of personal encounter was again made manifest during these days in
Turkey, the destination of four papal journeys in fewer than 50 years and the
place where Francis trustingly extended his open hand to shake those of eminent
Muslim leaders, as the Pope recalled during the return flight press conference.
We need to “raise the bar” in the dialogue between Christians and Muslims, the
Pontiff said, and it is essential that all Islamic leaders condemn violence and
intolerance, which are incompatible with authentic faith in God.
a journey of friendship, the Pope’s three days in Turkey marked a milestone —
correctly termed ‘historical’ — on the
path toward union between the Churches of Rome and Constantinople, and more generally between
Catholic and Orthodox faithful. The gestures and words of Francis and
Bartholomew truly called to mind the insights and actions of Athenagoras and
Paul vi who, half a century ago
and after a millennium of division and enmity, had the courage to set off on a
new path, followed by their Successors, Demetrius, John Paul ii and Benedict xvi, for the light of Christ shines only in unity.