Meeting of Pope Francis and Baselios Marthoma Mathews III in the Vatican  (VATICAN MEDIA Divisione Foto)

By Francesca Merlo

Sep 12 2023

His Holiness Baselios Marthoma Mathews III, Catholicos and Malankara Metropolitan of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, emphasises the importance of unity and compassion in a divided world.

On 11 September, Baselios Marthoma Mathews III, the Catholicos and Malankara Metropolitan of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, delivered a speech during his meeting with Pope Francis. In his address, the Catholicos eloquently highlighted the significance of their dialogue, reflected on the teachings of Pope Francis’ encyclical Fratelli tutti, and extended heartfelt invitations for further collaboration and understanding between the two Churches.

A shared commitment to unity

Addressing Pope Francis and the assembly, Mathews III began by referencing the Apostle Paul’s words from Ephesians 4:4-6, emphasizing the oneness of faith and the unity that binds all Christians together. “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.” This scriptural foundation underscored the profound unity that exists among Christians worldwide.

Inspiration from ‘Fratelli Tutti’

Baselios Marthoma Mathews III drew inspiration from Pope Francis’ encyclical Fratelli tutti, particularly highlighting the message of the Good Samaritan. He quoted Pope Francis, who stated, “All of us have a responsibility for the wounded, those of our own people and all the peoples of the earth. Let us care for the needs of every man and woman, young and old, with the same fraternal spirit of care and closeness that marked the Good Samaritan”. This sentiment served as a profound motivator for strengthening fraternal bonds and emphasizing the need for unity and compassion among Christian leaders globally.

Promoting Peace, Justice, and Dignity

The Catholicos also emphasized that their meeting was not merely a dialogue between leaders but a testament to the commitment of their congregations to promote peace, justice, mutual care, and the dignity of every human person. He envisioned their coming together as an embodiment of this commitment and encouraged both Churches to work together in weaving unity and fraternity into the fabric of their shared faith.

Gratitude for the Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity

The Catholicos expressed heartfelt appreciation for the Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity, “an institution that tirelessly worked to foster bilateral relations between our Churches”. He noted the significance of the bilateral agreements they had reached, emphasizing that these agreements were not merely legal documents but manifestations of their shared devotion to Christ and His message of love.

The Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission

Mathews III highlighted the theme of the forthcoming General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in Oct 2023, which is focusing on “Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission.” He explained that synodality was deeply rooted in their ecclesiastical identity, affirming “with unwavering conviction that the synodal dimensions are not only deeply rooted in sacred scripture but also doctrinally pivotal for the Church’s growth and spiritual well-being”.

An Invitation and exchange of pilgrimages

Finally, the Catholicos extended a heartfelt invitation to Pope Francis to visit St Thomas’ land, inviting him to witness the rich traditions of their Church. He also acknowledged the Dicastery’s initiative in organizing group pilgrimages of young priests and proposed a reciprocal exchange program to strengthen fellowship and knowledge between their Churches. – Vatican News