One Synod, Both Lungs
Benedict XVI said, "Your fathers are also our fathers, and ours are yours: if we have the same fathers, how can we not be brothers?" Behind the two of them, who were seated on chairs of equal size, the depiction of the last judgment in the Sistine Chapel.
It was in the most famous of the chapels in the apostolic palace, in fact, that this afternoon the first vespers for the 29th Sunday of ordinary time were celebrated, "on the occasion of the participation of ecumenical patriarch Bartholomew I in the work of the 12th assembly of the synod of bishops." "At this moment, we have truly experienced the synod," the pope commented, speaking spontaneously at the end of the extensive address by the patriarch. "Hearing the word of God," he added, "also opens one's eyes to the realities of today," and the "fathers" of the synod "will continue their work illuminated by the words" of Bartholomew.
The patriarch of Constantinople, after speaking of the "historic event" because of his very presence at the synod, expressed his hope of arriving one day at "full unity" between Orthodox and Catholics, overcoming the current differences and agreeing "fully over the role of primacy and collegiality in the life of the Church." Bartholomew also indicated some concrete objectives: "as disciples of God," he added, "it is more imperative than ever to present a single perspective, beyond social, political, and economic views, on the need to uproot poverty, promote equilibrium in the globalized world, combat fundamentalism and racism, and develop religious tolerance in a world of conflict."
The founder of the "new Pompeii," Bartolo Longo, was remembered by the pope in part because "his spiritual crisis and conversion appear to have great relevance today. In fact, while he was studying at the university in Naples, he was influenced by the immanentist and positivist philosophers, and strayed from his Christian faith, becoming militantly anti-clerical and giving himself to spiritualistic and superstitious practices. His conversion, with the discovery of the true face of God, contains a very eloquent message for us, because unfortunately such tendencies are not lacking in our day. In this Pauline Year, I am pleased to emphasize that Bartolo Longo, like St. Paul, was transformed from a persecutor into an apostle: an apostle of the Christian faith, of Marian devotion, and in particular, of the Rosary, in which he found a synthesis of the entire Gospel." But his conversion itself represents "an historical demonstration of how God transforms the world: by filling man's heart with charity, making it an 'engine' of religious and social renewal. Pompeii is an example of how faith can operate in the city of man, raising up apostles of charity who place themselves at the service of the lowly and the poor, and who work so that even the least may be respected in their dignity, and find acceptance and advancement."PHOTOS: AFP/Getty