Patriarch Porfirije received Archbishop Paul Gallagher on an official visit

His Holiness Porfirije, the Serbian Patriarch, met with Archbishop Paul Gallagher, Holy See Secretary for Relations with States, at the Holy Archangels Monastery in Kovilj, on 23 November 2021.

The meeting was attended by Their Graces Bishops Jerotej of Toplica and Sava of Marca, Head of the Office of the Serbian Patriarch; Ambassador of the Republic of Serbia to the Holy See Professor Sima Avramovic, PhD, and Mr. Bogdan Lubardic, PhD, Professor of the Faculty of Orthodox Theology in Belgrade.

After the meeting, Archbishop Gallagher emphasized:

It’s a great pleasure for me to be here today. I am most grateful to  His Holiness Patriarch for having received me. We have been here now for three days, but certainly from the point of view of our communications, our relations with the Serbian Orthodox Church, this is the high point of my visit. I’ve come with the greetings and fraternal affection of His Holiness Pope Francis for the Patriarch, whom He knows, has met on number occasions already and to whom he has a great respect indeed. They are both men of great faith. And it’s really about that faith that our conversation this morning has been going on. We talked about obviously situations of dialogue between the Churches, we talked about also relations between Orthodox Churches in the world and we talked about general political situation in the world, regional, European politics and other things. It has been a very positive exchange I think. It reflects a great respect that exists between the Roman Catholic Church and the Serbian Orthodox Church. I think this is very significant step forward that confirms the engagement that existed on various levels with formal dialogues and exchanges. And I am hopeful that this will also be the beginning of further progress in that sense which will bring Christians in both the Orthodox and the Catholic traditions together at the service of humanity and for the proclamation of the Gospel, which is every reason for our existence as Christian Churches.

Expressing joy over the meeting with the high guest, the Serbian Patriarch Porfirije emphasized:

- I am glad that the Secretary of the Vatican - the Holy See for Relations with States - visited us - we would simply say that the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Vatican - especially that we had an official meeting today here in the Kovilj monastery, which is a symbol of peace. Namely, the Kovilj monastery was founded on the place where two armies reconciled, the Hungarian army and the Serbian army during the time of Saint Sava, who mediated in the establishment of peace between the two armies. The monastery was built in this place as a symbol of peace. Today's visit and the conversation took place in that spirit, in the spirit of the Gospel of Christ. We have, of course, discussed all the challenges facing our Churches, namely the challenges of modern man, as well as the need for a common witness to the Gospel in the modern world. We have concluded that the value system that the Gospel carries and bears witness to, and the Churches are called to bear witness to that value system, is in some way different from many other systems offered to modern man. The system of values, which we as Churches preach and offer, is equally modern today, even though it is two thousand years old - and it is most needed by modern man. All who face challenges, whether the Church or the nations have above all a need for Christ who is the bearer of peace. Discords between states, discords between people, sometimes misunderstandings between Churches and misunderstandings within one Church, are a consequence of forgetting Christ and trying to regulate the world with our values, our bare human mind.  It is not possible to achieve any peace if we do not have peace within ourselves, and that peace is not possible if we do not have communion and communion with God. Only when we build community and communion with God can we have peace in ourselves, and then that peace will spread around us, then we will establish peace with other people, have peace with creation, and then creation will not retaliate against us. our consumer attitude towards it. In that sense, we see many environmental problems, including the pandemic we are facing. And here nature is sacred to us. Therefore, no matter how material the problems were, no matter how much they concerned our body, there is always a spiritual field in the background of all problems, or better to say solving problems, on which we should win the battle, and that battle cannot be won without God's help. That is what we talked about and what we agreed and understood: to do good for an individual and one man and for the good of the entire human race, the entire planet, we must cooperate, work together with each other, above all we Christians. We do not need to make an effort to understand each other as Christians. Of course, we must cooperate with people who belong to other religions, but also with those who feel they have no need for God and declare themselves as unbelievers. So, we have understood and stated what the Gospel calls us to and what our Churches call us to: no one can do without the other, and everyone needs another, and that means our neighbors so that we can grow as a human race and as humanity.