My favorite story about Blessed Paul VI

I was just beginning doctoral studies at Fuller Theological Seminary when this story and these pictures appeared in L’Osservatore Romano. My heart burst at the sight of these photos (akin to the night Francis stepped out onto the balcony and bowed for the blessings of the people).

Like any good Protestant Seminary, Fuller has a Board of Declaration (a Wittenburg door) at the campus crossroads, onto which any modern Martin(a) Luther can post his/her thoughts. This was my first post.

This morning I found this account online.

“The exchanges of ecumenical delegations and messages between Constantinople and Rome came into a climax with the election of new Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Dimitrios. The new Patriarch pursued the policy of his predecessor, Patriarch Athenagoras, and made relationships with the Sister Church of Rome a high priority.

“Especially charged with emotions of joy and hope were the visits of December 1975, marking the 10th anniversary of the lifting of excommunications that the churches of Constantinople and Rome had conferred on each other during the 11th century of the revocation of the mutual excommunications.

“On the 16th December, 1975, Metropolitan Meliton of Chalcedon, the envoy of Patriarch Demitrios I, brought formal word to Rome, and announced inside the Sistine Chapel during Mass and in the presence of Paul VI, that a Pan-Orthodox Commission had been set up to prepare the theological dialogue between the Catholic and the Orthodox churches. It was confirmed that the Patriarchate itself had established a special synodal commission for this dialogue. When he heard this announcement and had greeted formally the Orthodox delegation, Pope Paul VI astonished all present, and eventually the world, by going to Metropolitan Meliton, kneeling before him, and kissing his feet. In was an unprecedented gesture of humility, a Pope kissing the feet of another bishop not along a Greek Orthodox Metropolitan representing the head of the Eastern Church. Taken aback by the roman pontiff’s dramatic action, Meliton attempted to kiss the Pope’s feet in return but the Pope prevented him from doing so. Meliton instead kissed his hand.”

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One comment

  1. Gestures speak more than words. Thanks for sharing this Dr. Ford. I enjoyed your classes while I was your student at Saint John’s Seminary. You are a man with great love and energy for what you do and teach.

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