At first glance, the idea of Orthodox Christians being able to learn from the Pope of Rome appears out of place if not altogether wrong. However, Orthodox Christians should pause before rushing to judgment about such matters and remember that prior to the Great Schism of 1054, the Pope of Rome was honored with reverence and respect throughout the Orthodox World. Today, Orthodox Christians honor many Popes of Rome as saints including St. Leo the Great, St. Gregory the Dialogist and St. Martin the Confessor. Orthodox Tradition celebrates the lives of many Popes throughout the liturgical year.
Despite these facts, one of the present realities that is most disappointing is how some of our brothers and sisters have portrayed the Pope of Rome. “Dictator” and “anti-christ” are just some of the clichés that have been sadly used. Orthodox Christians should especially pause and take notice of the unique witness of Pope Francis. He is in many ways a bishop who reflects the Christianity of the first millennium when the Church was undivided. Pope Francis also models a form of leadership that is greatly needed in Orthodox Christianity today.
Over the next week, I will publish three posts, each one highlighting a specific lesson that Orthodox Christians can learn from Pope Francis, excerpted from an article posted by the Orthodox Christian Network.