Here is my English translation of the Address of His Beatitude Christodoulos to Pope Benedict XVI on the occasion of their meeting at the Vatican on December 14, 2006 (from the Vatican's French):
Holiness Bishop and Pope of Rome,
With joy, we come today from the Apostolic Church of Athens in pilgrimage to the monuments of the saints, especially Saint Paul, the Apostle of the Nations, founder of our Church, located in the famous City of Old Rome. We come to prostrate ourselves on the tomb of the Holy Apostle Peter, and to pay homage to the martyrs of the catacombs, and to the Greek saints Cyril and Methodius, equal to the Apostles. We come to pray so that Christ’s truth shines in the world, by applying ourselves "to maintain the unity of Spirit in the bond of peace" (1) so that "we grow in all ways into Him who is the head, into Christ" (2). With joy, we come on your courteous invitation, in the capacity of Primate of the very holy Church of Greece, to visit you for the first time in your capacity as Bishop of this city. We come to you, the eminent theologian and academic, the assiduous researcher of ancient Greek thought and the Greek Fathers of the East; but also the visionary of the unity of Christians and the co-operation of religions to ensure the peace of the whole world. We remember our previous meeting, on April 8, 2005, the day of the funeral of the blessed Pope John Paul II. The visit that this great Pope of eternal memory paid to Athens, and our meeting, on May 4, 2001, during which we had had the opportunity to exchange words of love and truth, showed our common desire there to lay the cornerstone, to build comprehension, forgiveness, reconciliation and purification of the Church’s memory.
Today, we give thanks to God for the prodigal opportunity to exchange with Your Holiness the brotherly kiss of charity. We thus reach a new stage on our Churches’ common path of facing the present world’s problems. Our Churches’ perpetuation of the veneration of holy relics was often emphasized at the time of the Church of Rome’s courteous return of such relics to our Church’s various metropolitan dioceses and places of pilgrimage. We are waiting to receive, in the hours which follow, a fragment of the chains of Saint Paul the Apostle, which will be preciously and piously preserved in the very holy Church of Athens.
With great satisfaction, we recall that official delegations from the Church of Greece have gone to the Holy See, notably since 2002, charged with deepening mutual knowledge, informing and cooperating in the social, cultural, educational, ecological and bioethics fields. We bring to mind, among others, the official delegations sent to the Church of Greece, led by His Eminence Cardinal Walter Kasper in 2003, and others directed respectively by their Eminences Cardinals Jean-Louis Tauran, Dionigi Tettamanzi and Angelo Scola. We think also of the visits that were paid to us by His Excellency Bishop Vincenzo Apicella, with the head of a delegation of clergy from the Diocese of Rome, and His Excellency Bishop Josef Homayer, president emeritus of COMECE (3), who stressed the importance of a collaboration attended by a delegation of our Church in the European Union with the aforementioned Commission, in order to give to the twenty-first century European a credible message of the Gospel of life, grace and freedom, thanks to this co-operation.
We must acknowledge the many members of our Church, clergy and laity, who pursued higher education in Roman Catholic educational institutions, benefiting from scholarships granted by the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity. In turn, by way of reciprocating this brotherly gift, during the past two years, we allotted grants to fifty Catholic ecclesiastics and novices, who are studying in Rome, enabling them to learn Greek, and to familiarize themselves with Greek culture and Orthodox tradition. We particularly want to continue this program of understanding and co-operation.
On this occasion, we especially wish to emphasize the good collaboration established between our Churches to publish the facsimile of Basil II’s “Menologion”, one of the most important illuminated Byzantine manuscripts, preserved at the Vatican’s Apostolic Library.
The memory of all this, as well as the living hope of transcending dogmatic obstacles that block the path of unity in faith, enrich our prayer and reinforce our will to live full unity by consensus, and to share communion in the Lord’s precious Body and Blood in the same moment of life. To this end, we wish for the international joint commission, overseeing dialogue between the Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church, to succeed in its work.
The conditions which inform the new face of the world today, especially Europe, require on our part - in our capacity as spiritual fathers of the pious members of our Churches - vigilance in giving timely warnings about all that threatens the values and structures of the European civilization, deeply impregnated with the Christian faith: the current advocacy of increasing de-Christianization, with the goal of excluding the Church from public life, and its social marginalization; problems created by the displacement of thousands of refugees and migrants from any place of origin; dangers resulting from religious fanaticism; presumptuous developments, touching the limits of offence, in the old Greek sense of the term, genetic biotechnology; the widening chasm between the rich and the poor; the risks to which the youth are exposed; the possibility of a conflict between civilizations and religions; the need to preserve the spiritual and cultural identity of European citizens and the family, the building block of society; the depreciation and the devaluation of the human being, often even surreptitiously, often under the guise of humans rights; the frenzy of consumption cultivated by all means and, its corollary, the production of a conditioned way of life whose sole value is pleasure, whatever the psychological price. In short, many social problems, about which you have often spoken, are true challenges for us, which we are ready to take on, in the true spirit of life in Christ. In this particular case, the contribution of Orthodox theological and pastoral discourse is absolutely necessary. The Church must reach out its hand to hold and save the drowning from the torrent of Baal. It seems that, in the extremely media conscious present day world, She must adopt modern means of communication and speak contemporary language to the man of our time. That must be done without allowing these technical means to alter our discourse, and without compromising our message with the form of communication. She is obligated to oppose the State and world superpowers, when she considers that their decisions harm the living image of God on earth. This she must do, without yielding to the temptation to think herself a power of this world.
However, by calling upon the intercession of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, like that of our holy Athenian predecessors, Anaclet, Hygeinos, Sixtus II, we wish you personally, holiness, health and long life "may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and a good hope by grace, comfort you and strengthen you in all that you do and all that you say for the good" (4).
(1) Eph. 4:3.
(2) Cf. Eph. 4:15.
(3) Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community.
(4) II Thess. 2:16-17.