John Paul II Renews His Commitment for Christian Unity

During Mass on Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 30, 2003 ( John Paul II renewed his commitment to Christian unity, in the presence of an Orthodox Church delegation and at a Mass on the solemnity of the patrons of Rome.

John Paul II said Sunday that the «joy of today’s feast is more intense because of the presence of the delegation sent by His Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I.» The patriarch is considered «first among equals» by the Orthodox.

The delegation, from the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, was headed by Greek Orthodox Archbishop Demetrios of America.

It was making what has become a traditional visit to Rome for the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, patrons of the city. A Vatican delegation reciprocates with a visit in November to Constantinople — modern Istanbul, Turkey — on the feast of St. Andrew, patron of that Orthodox patriarchate.

The Pope called the exchange of visits an «eloquent sign of our commitment oriented to attaining full unity.»

The Preface of the celebration — «With different gifts they edified the one Church» — referring to the Apostles Peter and Paul, «seems to make evident, precisely, the commitment to seek unity with all effort, responding to the invitation so often repeated by Jesus in the Cenacle: ‘ut unum sint!’ — ‘that they be one!'» John Paul II said.

«As Bishop of Rome and Successor of Peter, I renew today, in the evocative context of this feast, my complete willingness to put my person at the service of communion among all the disciples of Christ,» the Holy Father affirmed.

«The Lord, who knows our weaknesses and hesitations, promises his help to overcome the obstacles that impede the concelebration of the one Eucharist,» he added.

At the end of the Mass, Orthodox Archbishop Demetrios congratulated John Paul II on his 25-year pontificate, a mystery characterized by «a constant effort to promote peace in the name of God, reconciliation among peoples» and «the surmounting of the tragic separation and division of our Churches.»

«Considerable steps have been taken toward unity,» he added, "and we pray that there will be more, so that our broken and fallen world will have an even greater testimony of the possibility of reconciliation, contemplating the beautiful and strong bonds of love that unite us in faith and in service of Jesus Christ.»

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