Church Committed to Ecumenism, Says Pope

And Calls for Growth in Dialogue With Muslims

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 25, 2005 ( Benedict XVI confirmed the Catholic Church’s “irreversible” commitment to ecumenism and appealed to believers of all religions to become promoters of peace.

The new Pope’s words resonated today in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace, where he received the representatives of Christian confessions and other religions, who attended the Mass on Sunday for the solemn inauguration of his pontificate.

The Holy Father divided his address into two parts. The first was directed to the delegates of the Orthodox Churches, the Eastern Orthodox Churches and the ecclesial communities of the West; the second to the representatives of other religions.

“Following in the footsteps of my predecessors, in particular Paul VI and John Paul II, I feel intensely the need to affirm again the irreversible commitment assumed by Vatican Council II” to journey on the “path toward the full communion desired by Jesus for his disciples,” said the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

This objective, the Pope acknowledged, “implies a concrete docility to what the Spirit says to the churches, courage; gentleness; firmness; and hope, to reach the end. It implies, above all, insistent prayer and, with only one heart, to obtain from the Good Shepherd the gift of unity for his flock.”

“On this very particular occasion, which brings us together precisely at the beginning of my ecclesial service, accepted with fear and confident obedience to the Lord, I ask all of you that you give example with me of that spiritual ecumenism, which in prayer realizes our communion without obstacles,” the Holy Father told his guests.

The Pontiff then voiced gratitude in particular for the presence “of members of the Muslim community” and expressed his appreciation “for the growth of the dialogue between Muslims and Christians, both at the local as well as the international” level.

“I assure you that the Church wishes to continue to build bridges of friendship with the followers of all the religions to seek the true good of all persons and of the whole society,” he said.

“At the beginning of my pontificate,” Benedict XVI added, “I address to all of you and to believers of the religious traditions here represented, as well as to all those who seek the Truth with a sincere heart, an intense invitation to become together architects of peace, in a reciprocal commitment of understanding, respect and love.”

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