The pope underlined that “the witness of growing communion between us Christians will also be a sign of hope for many men and women.”

“This is the only way to the dawn of a future of peace. A fine prophetic sign would be closer cooperation between Orthodox and Catholics in the dialogue with other religious traditions,” Francis said.

The delegation, led by Metropolitan Emmanuel of Chalcedon, arrived in Rome ahead of the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul today, 29 June.

Each year, the Vatican usually receives a delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew for the celebration of Rome’s Saints Peter and Paul and, in exchange, sends a Roman delegation for a return visit to Istanbul on St. Andrew’s Day, November 30. St. Andrew is the patron of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.

In the meeting, Pope Francis said: “This annual exchange of delegations between the Church of Rome and that of Constantinople for the feasts of our respective Patrons is a sign of the communion – real, albeit not yet full – which we already share.”

He told the Orthodox delegation: “If we are docile to love, to the Holy Spirit who is the creative love of God and who brings harmony to diversity, he will open the way to a renewed fraternity.”