I was quite shocked to see this story yesterday highlighting the agreement between the Pope and Orthodox Patriarch to come together in Iznik, Turkey (formerly Nicea) in 2025 in order to celebrate the first truly ecumenical council that produced the Nicene Creed:
Patriarch Bartholomew revealed that he and the Roman Pontiff had “agreed to leave as a legacy to ourselves and our successors a gathering in Nicaea in 2025, to celebrate together, after 17 centuries, the first truly ecumenical synod, where the Creed was first promulgated.” The Council of Nicea, held in 325, brought together over 300 bishops and approved the formula of faith now known as the Nicene Creed.
Of course there was overreaction at first, with Catholic Culture reporting this to be a new ecumenical council (a claim that they later retracted), but regardless, it provides for hope. If there’s one thing that modern Christians need to be reminded of is that God is never in a hurry, and neither is His Church. What seemed impossible for centuries became a prayerful reality in 1964 when Patriarch Athenagorus I and Pope Paul VI mutually lifted their respective excommunications. What may be even more substantive and exciting is the Common Declaration signed by Pope Francis and the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I on May 25 that marked the 50th anniversary of that historic event:
[The Pope and the Ecumenical Patriarch] held private talks in Jerusalem and signed a Common Declaration in which they pledged to continue on the path towards unity between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.
The last 50 years have shown themselves to be an era of dialogue, and as we continue to pray as Christ prayed, “that they all may be one” (John 17:21), we can hold on to the hope of unity, both visible and invisible, that we share in Christ alone.
EDIT: It appears that the Vatican has dialed back the expectations for this meeting. That doesn’t mean great things won’t happen, but we must put things in perspective take it one step at a time. Miracles don’t always happen overnight!