The Pope Emeritus has praised worship ad orientem in a book which celebrates the 25th anniversary of the election of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople.

In his book extract, the retired Benedict XVI writes: “A shepherd of the flock of Jesus Christ is never oriented only to the circle of his own faithful. The community of the Church is universal, also in the sense that it includes all of reality.”

He continues: “This is evident, for example, in the liturgy, which does not indicate only the commemoration and fulfilment of the saving acts of Jesus Christ.

“It is journeying towards the redemption of all creation. In orienting the liturgy towards the East (the Orient), we see that Christians, together with the Lord, desire to proceed towards the salvation of creation in its entirety. Christ, the Crucified and Risen Lord, is at the same time also the ‘sun’ which enlightens the world.”

In his own contribution to the book, Pope Francis writes that he shares the Ecumenical Patriarch’s commitments to defending religious freedom, fighting indifference to attacks on human dignity and promoting care of creation.

In anticipation of the celebration of Bartholmew’s anniversary on November 2, Pope Francis and Benedict joined a group of religious and civic leaders in contributing to a book, Bartholomew: Apostle and Visionary, published by Thomas Nelson.

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