Last week, Pope Francis held several historic meetings. One was a meeting between Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I and a representative of the Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill. Each of them gave him an icon as a gift. I believe that he gave each of them the gift of a cross. A video was made of the exchanging of the gifts.
As we all know he also met, prayed, and lunched with Pope Emeritus Benedict as well. During this meeting, Pope Francis gave Pope Emeritus Benedict a gift–also an icon. In fact, it was the same icon which was given to him just 3 days earlier by the representative of Patriarch Kirill: Our Lady of Humility. The brief film of their meeting, and the story of the gifting of this icon, this visual prayer, is very beautiful.
I pray for unity among all Christians, and have a special place in my heart for our Orthodox brothers and sisters. I pray with them and for them frequently. As Pope John Paul II once remarked on how much the Eastern and Western Churches need each other (especially in these times) , saying that we “need to breathe with both lungs”.
May we some day join together both in friendship and as loving members of the body of Christ. I believe that it is the icon that will be the bridge between us.