VATICAN CITY, NOV. 13, 2001 ( John Paul II reaffirmed that ecumenical dialogue is an "irreversible" commitment of the Catholic Church and a priority of his pontificate.

In a message sent to the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, the Pope offers two guidelines for the future of ecumenism: "the dialogue of truth, and meeting in fraternity."

In the text of the message, published Monday by the Vatican Press Office, the Bishop of Rome asks that "words like crisis, delays, slowness, immobility and compromises be eliminated" in ecumenical dialogue.

Instead, John Paul II urges that key words such as "confidence, patience, constancy, dialogue and hope" be adopted.

"And to these I would like to add the impetus to act," he adds. "I am referring here to the fervor inspired by a good cause, before which one is stimulated to seek the means to support it, encouraging creativity and at times the courage to change."

The Holy Father continues: "Prayer and constant listening to the Lord are indispensable, as he is the one who, with the force of the Spirit, converts hearts and makes possible all progress in the way of ecumenism."

The Pontiff ends his message on a note of confidence: "With rigorous and serene theological research, with constant imploring for the light of the spirit, we will be able to address even the most difficult and seemingly insurmountable questions in so many of our ecumenical dialogues as, for example, that of the Bishop of Rome, which I addressed in particular in my encyclical letter ´Ut Unum Sint´ (see numbers 88-96)."

In that 1995 encyclical, the Holy Father proposed to pastors and theologians of the churches and Christian communities separated from Rome that they seek together "the way with which this (Petrine) ministry will be able to carry out a service of faith and love recognized by all."