Pope Asks Patriarch of Constantinople for Regular Contacts

Sends Message to Orthodox Leader on Feast of St. Andrew

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 1, 2002 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II asked Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, «first among equals» among the Orthodox, to maintain more regular contacts, in order to arrive more rapidly at full communion.

The proposal was expressed in a papal message given to the Orthodox leader by Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. The message was relayed Saturday, feast of St. Andrew, patron of the ecumenical patriarchate.

The cardinal handed over the message at the end of the Sacred Liturgy, presided over by Bartholomew I, in Fanar, the see of the patriarchate. The gesture will be returned by the patriarchate, which will send an Orthodox delegation to Rome on June 29, the feast of St. Peter, brother of the Apostle Andrew.

The memory of the two saints, «invites us to seek together, day after day, full communion to carry out our common mission of reconciliation in God and to promote an authentic peaceful and Christian spirit, in a world marked by tragic divisions and armed conflicts,» the papal message explained.

The quest for unity led John Paul II to propose to the Orthodox patriarch «more frequent forms of communication and regular and reciprocal exchanges among ourselves to make our relations more harmonious and to coordinate our common efforts more effectively.»

The Holy Father said he shared Bartholomew I’s profound desire to «relaunch the theological dialogue to reach a new phase, following the uncertainties, difficulties and hesitations of the last decade.»

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