Bishop-Friends of Focolare Promote Unity in Istanbul

Dozens Gather for a Congress

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ISTANBUL, Turkey, DEC. 2, 2004 ( More than 50 bishops of various Churches and denominations, all friends of the Focolare Movement, participated in the 23rd Ecumenical Congress of Bishops in Istanbul.

The bishops were Catholics of various rites, Orthodox, Syro-Orthodox, Apostolic Armenian, Anglican, and Evangelical-Lutheran, of at least 18 countries. Their eight-day meeting ended Wednesday.

The meeting took place at the moment that the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople received from John Paul II the relics of Sts. John Chrysostom and Gregory Nazianzen.

The bishops promised to apply the evangelical commandment of reciprocal love «so that Christ will always live among us and the world will also be able to believe thanks to our contribution,» said the archbishop of Prague, Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, one of the main promoters of the initiative.

The bishops attended the ceremony to welcome the relics of the Fathers of the undivided Church, John Chrysostom and Gregory Nazianzen, bishops of Constantinople during the fourth and fifth centuries.

The relics had been consigned by John Paul II to Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I in Rome.

Bartholomew I opened the congress. Dialogue encounters followed with Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, with Apostolic Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople, Mesrob II, and with the Patriarchal Vicar of the Syrian Orthodox Church of Turkey, Filüksinos Yusuf Çetin.

Chiara Lubich, founder of the Focolare, had charged aides with delivering her addresses on the theme of the congress and the ecumenical experience of her movement.

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