Mondo Pope's statement, inter-communion & Orthodox developments

Orthodoxy(Peter Anderson) The Vatican Press Office provided this weekend a verbatim transcript of the remarks of Pope Francis to Metropolitan Hilarion and the Russian delegation on May 30. In my last report, I included a
few sentences of the Pope’s remarks which were quoted by However, the entire transcript now provides other sentences which are also very important.
In my opinion, these remarks are consistent with the Balamand statement that “uniatism” can no longer be accepted as a model of unity, while at the same time acknowledging the right of these Eastern Catholic Churches  (which have often undergone severe persecution in their loyalty to the Holy See) to exist and care for their faithful.  (paragraphs 3 and 12).  What is especially interesting to me concerning the remarks by Pope Francis is how passionately he believes that it is not the model of unity and that walking and journeying together must accompany the search for doctrinal agreement.  I have pasted the full text below at the end of this email.
As Metropolitan Hilarion has often observed, there have been developments in some non-Orthodox Christian churches in recent decades that have increased the differences between those churches and the Orthodox Church.  The Orthodox Church, as is well known, has strict limitations on the reception of the Eucharist by non-Orthodox Christians.  Considerable publicity has been given by the media to a draft pastoral handout approved by more than three-quarters of the bishops at the Spring General Assembly of the German Bishops’ Conference in February 2018.  The approved document would allow a non-Catholic Evangelical spouse of a Catholic to receive the Eucharist with the approval of the pastor or the person charged with spiritual care provided the Evangelical spouse affirms the Catholic faith in the Eucharist.  (paragraph 6)  Today, there are two developments relating to this document.  First, it has been made public that the head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has written a letter to the German bishops stating that the “Holy Father has reached the conclusion that the document has not matured enough to be published.”  The letter also states that the question of the admission to communion of Lutheran Christians in interconfessional marriages “has effects on ecumenical relations with other churches and other ecclesial communities that cannot be undervalued.”  Second, Pope Francis met today with a Lutheran delegation from Germany.  Among the Pope’s comments were the following:  “Let us support one another in the journey, also by carrying forward the theological dialogue.  No ecumenical dialogue can advance if we remain still.  We must walk, continue: not with the enthusiasm of running forward to earn coveted goals, but walking patiently together, under the gaze of God.” 
In my opinion, the proposed pastoral handout would also create a difference with the Orthodox Church with respect to the need to receive the sacrament of confession at some time before receiving the Eucharist.  In Russia the most common practice for laypersons is to confess prior to each reception of the Eucharist.  Some Orthodox jurisdictions are not so strict, but still confession within some reasonable period, according to my understanding, is expected for an adult.  Under the proposed handout, it would appear that a Lutheran may be able to received the Eucharist without ever having gone to sacramental confession or even believing in that sacrament.
According to, the Ecumenical Patriarch met today in Athens with Archbishop Ieronymos, the primate of the Church of Greece.  Controversial issues such as Ukraine and the FYROM were discussed.  Later in the day, the Ecumenical Patriarch met with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.  The Prime Minister thanked the Patriarch for his efforts to resolve the disputes with the Church of Skopje, stressing that this would provide stability in the region. ; 
Metropolitan Hilarion has continued his visits to the primates of the Local Orthodox Churches by meeting with Georgian Patriarch Ilia today.  The official website of the Georgian Patriarchate states:  “The aim of the visit was to get acquainted with the position of the Russian Church in the recent developments around the Church of Ukraine.  In the nearest future, the Georgian Church will visit the Ecumenical Patriarchate.” 
Serbian Bishop Irinej of Backa is hosting in Novi Sad, Serbia the General Assembly of the Conference of the European Churches (May 31 – June 7).  Yesterday, the Orthodox bishops attending the Assembly held a Liturgy together in the Church of St. George. 
Peter Anderson, Seattle USA
Greeting of the Holy Father to the Russian Orthodox delegation
Thank you so much for your visit, and also for this meeting, which helps us so much to live our faith in unity and in the hope to walk together.  I am happy to take the road of unity with you: the only road that promises us something certain, because the path of division leads us to war and destruction.  And before you I would like to reiterate – in a special way before you, my dear brother, and before all of you – that the Catholic Church will never allow an attitude of division to arise from her people.  We will never allow ourselves to do this, I do not want it.  In Moscow – in Russia – there is only one Patriarchate: yours.  We will not have another one.   And when some Catholic faithful, be they laypeople, priests or bishops, raise the banner of Uniatism, which does not work anymore, and is over, then it causes me pain.  The Churches that are united in Rome must be respected, but Uniatism as a path of unity is not valid today.  Instead it brings me comfort when I find this: the extended hand, the fraternal embrace, thinking together, and journeying.  Ecumenism is made by journeying.  We walk.  Some think – but this is not right – that there must first be doctrinal agreement, on all the points of division, and then the journey.  This does not work for ecumenism, because we do not know when agreement will come.  I once heard a man of the Church, a man of God, who said: “I know which day a doctrinal agreement will be signed.”  They asked him: “When?”  –  “The day after the coming of the glorious Christ”.  We must continue to study theology, to clarify the points, but in the meantime let us walk together, let us not wait for these things to be resolved in order to walk, no.  We journey together and also do this, but walking in love, in prayer; as in this example of the relics.  Prayer together, for each other, in dialogue.  This is so good.  The meeting with His Holiness Kirill was very good for me, I found a brother.   And now, spiritually, we walk together.
And a couple of words to finish. One on the respect of Catholics towards you, Russian Orthodox brothers: the Catholic Church, the Catholic Churches must not get involved in internal matters of the Russian Orthodox Church, nor in political issues.  This is my attitude, and the attitude of the Holy See today.   And those who meddle do not obey the Holy See.  This regards politics.  The second thing: piety.  It is important that we pray for each other, also in personal prayer.  We know new brothers and sisters, and then there is also personal prayer.  I would like to say something to you: when we met with the Patriarch, afterwards he sent me a relic of Saint Seraphim.  I keep that relic on my nightstand, and at night, before going to bed, and in the morning, when I get up, I venerate it and pray for our unity.
Thank you very much.  Let us pray for each other.  Let us bless each other.  And let us go together. Thank you.