AD FUTURAM REI MEMORIAM1
the future memory of this matter)
"Walk in love, even as Christ loved you" (Eph
5:2). These words of exhortation of the Apostle of the Gentiles
apply to us who are called Christians after the name of our Savior,
and they put pressure on us, especially at this time when we are
driven more strongly to widen the field of our charity. Yes, by
the grace of God our souls are inflamed with the desire of making
every effort to bring about the restoration of unity among those
who have been called upon to preserve it, since they have been
incorporated in Christ. And we ourselves, who by a disposition
of divine Providence occupy the Chair of St. Peter, taking this
commandment of the Lord to heart, have already repeatedly signified
our very firm resolution of seizing every occasion which proves
useful and well designed to carry out this will of the Redeemer.
We turn over in mind the sad events which, in the wake of serious
dissensions, led in 1054 to strife between the Churches of Rome
and Constantinople. It was not without reason that our predecessor,
Pope St. Gregory VII, wrote after the event: "In the same
measure as concord first proved a source of good, the subsequent
cooling of charity on both sides proved a source of harm"
(Ep. ad Michael. Constantinop. imp., Reg. I, 18, ed. Caspar, p.
30). What was more, things reached such a point that the Papal
legates pronounced a sentence of excommunication against Michael
Cerularius, Patriarch of Constantinople, and two other churchmen,
and the Patriarch, together with his Synod, adopted the same measures
in reprisal. But now that times and minds have changed, we are
very happy indeed to find that our venerable brother Athenagoras
I, Patriarch of Constantinople, together with his Synod, are at
one with us in desiring that we be joined by charity, "the
pleasant and healthy bond of minds" (cf. St. Augustine, Serm.
350, 3; PL 39, 1534). And so, being anxious to make further progress
along the road of brotherly love, by which we could be led into
perfect unity, and to remove obstacles and shackles, in the presence
of the bishops gathered together in the Second Ecumenical Vatican
Council, we declare that we regret the words and deeds that were
said and enacted at that time and cannot meet with approval now.
Furthermore, we wish to cancel out from the memory of the Church
and remove from its midst the sentence of excommunication then
pronounced, and to have it buried in oblivion. We rejoice, too,
that it has fallen to our lot to carry out this deed of fraternal
charity here at Rome, near the tomb of the Apostle Peter, on the
very day that in Constantinople, called the New Rome, the same
thing is happening, and when both the Western and Eastern Churches
are celebrating in a religious manner the memory of St. Ambrose,
recognized by both as Bishop and Doctor. May the most kind God,
cause and source of peace, bring this mutual good will to a happy
issue; and may he turn to good account, for his own glory and
the benefit of souls, this public testimony of Christian brotherhood.
Given at Rome, by the resting place of St. Peter,
under the Seal of the Fisherman, 7 December 1965, in the third
year of our Pontificate.
E.J. STORMON, ed., Towards the Healing of Schism. The Sees
of Rome and Constantinople. Public Statements and Correspondence
between the Holy See and the Ecumenical Patriarchate 1958-1984,
Ecumenical Documents, 3 (NY/Mahwah: Paulist Press, 1987) 128-129.]