Vatican Radio’s Philippa Hitchen, who is travelling in Turkey with the Pope, spoke briefly to Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Director of the Holy See Press Office about the ongoing push for unity.
Father Lombardi says that “Every time you pray together you do something that is very important, because we believe that unity is a gift of God” and – he says – “if you don’t pray very much you will never succeed in achieving unity”.
“I think in the atmosphere and also in the tone of the speech there was the expression of a very strong will to go forward” he continued.
Lombardi says that these two leaders – Pope Francis and the Patriarch Bartholomew are really willing to go forward and “I think they are trying to force the resistances’ that be, and also to encourage the progress of reflection and theological studies” he says.
Lombardi points out that theological reflection can take a long time, but one can press it to go faster if there is really is the inspiration and the mutual will to listen and to find solutions. “In this sense there is a very important impulse driven forward by these two men” he says.
And he says there are also other steps that can be taken, like the work of the Theological Commission the preparation of the Pan orthodox Council.
Lombardi concludes that even the crisis in the world today has awakened a new common sensibility giving us “many occasions in which we can go forward ecumenically”.