His All-Holiness closely cooperated with Pope Benedict during his papal tenure, issuing joint statements on contemporary problems facing humanity and realizing official exchange visits, but above all resuming in 2007 the conversations of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches (established in 1980 and interrupted in 2000). Immediately upon his election, His Holiness Pope Benedict accepted a formal invitation from His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to visit the Phanar in November, 2006, on the occasion of the Patronal Feast of the Church of Constantinople. He also invited the Ecumenical Patriarch to deliver the only address by an ecumenical leader during the official celebrations in St. Peter’s Square for the 50th Anniversary since the opening of the 2nd Vatican Council in October, 2012. Below is the text of the formal statement by His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.
With the paternal prayers and blessing of His Beatitude Theodoros II, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa, His Grace Panteleimon, Bishop of Brazzaville and Gabon arrived in the city of Pointe Noire, second largest city of the Congo on Friday 8th February 2013. At the International Airport His Grace was welcomed by the Very Reverend Archimandrite Theologos Chrysanthakopoulos, the clergy, local authorities and many faithful.
On February 7, 2013, Bishop Nestor of Chersonese blessed the first cupola and the cross for St. Mary Magdalene church under construction in Madrid, the website of the Diocese of Chersonese reports. Present at the service were Russian Ambassador Yu, Korchagin, Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, V. Yakunin, President of the Russian Rail-Ways company, V. Chernyshev, director of the Transsoyuz charity, and Carlos Palacio Oriol, president of the Spanish Talgo company, which has confirmed its readiness to support the construction of the church.
On the eve of the feast day of Great ecumenical teachers and saints, Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian and John Chrysostom, His Grace Bishop Fotije of Dalmatia served the solemn vigil service at Krka monastery. On the feast day Bishop Fotije served the Divine Liturgy with the concelebration of clergy and monks of the Diocese of Dalmatia and guests from the Diocese of Australia and New Zealand. Following the Divine Liturgy the slava cake was cut and the slava wheat was blessed in the memory of great saints.
On February 11, 2013, the chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s department for external church relations, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, made comments to ITAR-TASS news agency concerning that coming reports about the retirement of the head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI.
Reports about the retirement of Pope Benedict XVI have proved to be unexpected even for his closest associates. Cardinal Sodano described it as ‘a thunder out of a clear sky’. Really, there have been no precedents of this kind in the modern history of the Roman Catholic Church. Pope John Paul II remained in office to the end despite his serious health problems.