Orthodox Patriarch Hails John Paul II as a Witness to Peace

Bartholomew I Gives Historic Address in Istanbul’s Cathedral

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ISTANBUL, Turkey, JUNE 25, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople praised John Paul II in this city’s Catholic cathedral, saying the Pope’s witness enables the world to believe that peace is possible.

The patriarch’s address June 17 was in the context of a congress promoted by the Catholic bishops’ conference and the apostolic nunciature in Turkey, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of John Paul II’s pontificate.

According to Monsignor Georges Marovitch, spokesman of the bishops’ conference: «The presence of Bartholomew I at the meeting has represented an important ecumenical gesture. Moreover, it has been the first time that a patriarch speaks in the cathedral of Istanbul.»

Addressing the topic «John Paul II and the Service of Peace,» Bartholomew I recalled that «the action of the Pope is marked by an impassioned quest for peace and this stems from his faith in the words of Jesus — with greater reason now that the world knows war and terrorism.»

«His stature of moral and religious leader, not only for Catholics, but for all men and women of good will, has its origin in a profound personal faith and in the conviction that this faith must be lived in a way that others see the truth, understand justice and find peace,» the patriarch added.

«To be such an example is really a grave mission,» the spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians stressed, according to a report by the SIR news agency.

The ecumenical patriarch especially praised the Holy Father’s efforts to establish contact with other Christians, and with Jews and Muslims.

Bartholomew I, who is considered «first among equals» in the Orthodox world, said that Christian unity would encourage peace.

«While we contemplate the world of today and weep tears over the death and destruction, can we allow ourselves anything other than a decided effort to find unity?» he asked.

The traditional visit of a delegation of the ecumenical patriarchate is expected this Sunday, the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul. The Holy See reciprocates with a visit to the Orthodox patriarchate on Nov. 30, the feast of St. Andrew.

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