Papal Address in Presence of Patriarch Teoctist of Romania

At Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 13, 2002 ( Here is a translation of the address John Paul II gave today before the recitation of the midday Angelus, at the end of the Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica. The Mass marked the conclusion of Romanian Orthodox Patriarch Teoctist’s visit.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters!

1. I have had the joy these days to receive His Beatitude Teoctist, patriarch of the Orthodox Church of Romania. My heartfelt thanks again to him and to all those who have accompanied him for this most appreciated visit. It has reminded me of what God allowed me to experience in Bucharest in May 1999. A sincere desire for unity arose from those meetings. “Unitate,” I heard the young people of Bucharest proclaim. “Unity!” I heard repeated last Monday in St. Peter’s Square, in my first meeting with His Beatitude.

This thirst for full communion among Christians has received remarkable impetus since the Second Vatican Council, which dedicated one of its most significant documents, the decree “Unitatis Redintegratio,” specifically to ecumenism.

Two days ago marked the 40th anniversary of the opening of that historic meeting, called on Oct. 11, 1962, by Pope John XXIII, whom we now venerate as Blessed. I was also given the grace to participate, and I keep precious and unforgettable memories in my spirit.

In his opening address, full of hope and faith, Pope John exhorted the council Fathers to remain, on the one hand, faithful to the Catholic tradition and, on the other, to present it again in a manner adapted to our times. In a certain sense, the 11th of October forty years ago marked the solemn and universal beginning of what is called the “new evangelization.”

3. The council was, so to speak, the “holy door” of that new spring of the Church that was manifested in the Great Jubilee of the year 2000. Because of this, with the apostolic letter “Novo Millennio Ineunte” I have asked the ecclesial community to take in their hands again the council documents, which do not lose their value or brilliance. They must be known and assimilated as “important and normative texts of the magisterium, within the Church’s Tradition” (see No. 57). This is why, on the occasion of the Jubilee Day of the Lay Apostolate, I handed these documents symbolically to the new generations.

May the Virgin Mary, Mother of God and of the Church, help us to understand that in the council we have all been offered a compass to guide us in the path of the century that is beginning.

[Translation by ZENIT]

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