Pope John Paul II Appeals to all Christians
to Intensify Efforts for Unity
VATICAN CITY, JUNE 30, 2004 (Zenit.org).- In the presence of the Orthodox patriarch of Constantinople, John Paul II appealed to all Christians to hasten the day in which full unity is achieved.
The Pope made this exhortation during the Mass Tuesday he presided over on the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, patrons of Rome.
On hand for the Mass in St. Peter's Square was Patriarch Bartholomew I, considered the "first among equals" in the Orthodox Church. He and an Orthodox delegation were at the Vatican as part of a now-traditional visit on the feast of the patrons of Rome. The patriarch and the Pope together delivered the homily and prayed the common profession of faith.
In his homily, John Paul II said: "I wish today to express the desire that all Christians intensify, each one for his part, their efforts in order to hasten the day in which the Lord's desire is fully realized."
"May our conscience not reproach us for omitting steps, for neglecting opportunities, or for not trying all paths!" he said.
Knowing that "the unity we seek is, above all, a gift of God," he added, we are also conscious of the fact that "the hastening of the hour of its full realization also depends on us, on our prayer, on our conversion to Christ."
The Pope stressed the "irrevocable" commitment to ecumenism, assumed by the Catholic Church with the Second Vatican Council decree "Unitatis Redintegratio."
For his part, Patriarch Bartholomew I confirmed in his homily that "our presence here today expresses with strong evidence our sincere desire to eliminate all the ecclesial obstacles that are not dogmatic or essential."
The patriarch also stressed that the unity of the Churches "is not a worldly union," but "a spiritual search whose objective is to live together the spiritual communion with the person of Our Lord Jesus Christ."