This Saturday, January 6, Pope Francis called for peace in the Middle East and throughout the world after remembering the 60th anniversary of the historic meeting in Jerusalem between Paul VI and the Orthodox Patriarch Athenagoras, the first step towards overcoming the differences that existed during centuries between both churches.

“Let us pray for peace in the Middle East, in Palestine, in Israel, in Ukraine, in the whole world,” urged the Pontiff, who referred to the “many victims of the war, so many deaths and so much destruction” when he addressed the Thousands of faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square after praying the Angelus, this Saturday, for the celebration of the Epiphany.

Previously, Francis had recalled the historic meeting between the two religious leaders in 1964 and which is considered the first step towards the declaration the following year in which the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church revoked the mutual excommunication that dated back to 1054.

“60 years ago, just these days, Pope Saint Paul VI and the Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras met in Jerusalem, breaking a wall of incommunication that for centuries had kept Catholics and Orthodox apart,” the Pontiff said. “Let us learn from these two greats of the church and go forward on the path of Christian unity, praying together, walking together, working together,” he added.

And “thinking of that historic gesture of brotherhood carried out in Jerusalem, let us pray for peace in the Middle East, in Palestine, in Israel, in Ukraine, throughout the world,” he exhorted.

On January 5, 1964, Patriarch Athenagoras visited Pope Paul VI, who was traveling in the Holy Land, at the headquarters of the pontifical delegation in Jerusalem and the following day, Epiphany Day, Paul VI visited Athenagoras at the headquarters. of the Orthodox patriarchate of the same city, taking a fundamental step in the rapprochement between both churches.

Francis called today for the unity of the Church, “where, instead of dividing ourselves according to our ideas, we are called to put God back at the center”, through “the vocation” and not “ecclesiastical ideologies”, at the Epiphany mass in St. Peter’s Basilica. In the celebration, which was attended by 248 cardinals, bishops and priests, the Pope recalled that the Three Wise Men “undertake a journey in search of the King who has been born, they are the image of the people on their way in search of God” and ” They teach us to look up (…) because our help comes from the Lord”.