Francis' comments came during a meeting with a delegation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in Rome ahead of Saturday's feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, Vatican Radio reported.
"The search for unity among Christians is an urgency which, today more than ever, we cannot ignore. In our world, hungry and thirsty for truth, love, hope, peace and unity, it is important for our own witness, to be finally able to announce with one voice the good news of the gospel and to celebrate the divine mysteries of the new life in Christ!" Francis said.
The pope went on to say: "It is significant that today we are able to reflect together, in truth and love, on these issues, starting with what we have in common, but without hiding that which still separates us. This is not merely a theoretical exercise, but one of getting to know each other's traditions, in order to understand, and sometimes to learn from them as well. We know very well that unity is primarily a gift from God for which we must pray without ceasing, but we all have the task of preparing the conditions, of cultivating the soil of the heart, so that this extraordinary grace can be received."
"I am comforted to know that Catholics and Orthodox share the same conception of dialogue that does not seek a theological minimalism on which to reach a compromise, but rather is based on the deepening of the one truth that Christ has given to His church, which we never cease to understand better as we are moved by the Holy Spirit," Francis said.