Papal Address to Representatives of Other Religions and Confessions

«The Common Passion for Unity Is Authentic and Great»

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 26, 2005 ( Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered Monday in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace, when meeting with representatives of other religions and Christian confessions who came to Rome for the Pope’s inauguration.

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[In Italian]

I welcome you with joy, dear delegates of the Orthodox Churches, the Eastern Orthodox Churches and the ecclesial communities of the West, a few days after my election. Your presence yesterday in St. Peter’s Square was particularly appreciated, after having lived together the sad moments of the farewell of deceased Pope John Paul II. The tribute of sympathy and affection that you expressed to my unforgettable predecessor was much more than a simple act of ecclesial courtesy. A long way has been traveled during the years of his pontificate and your participation in the Catholic Church’s mourning for his death has shown to what point the common passion for unity is authentic and great.

In greeting you, I would like to thank the Lord who has blessed us with his mercy and infused in us a disposition to make our own his prayer: «Ut unum sint.» He has made us ever more aware of the importance of journeying toward full communion. With fraternal friendship, we can exchange the gifts received from the Spirit and we feel mutually encouraged because we proclaim Christ and his message to the world, which today often seems disturbed and anxious, unaware and indifferent.

[In French]

Our meeting today is particularly significant. Above all, it allows the new Bishop of Rome, pastor of the Catholic Church, to repeat to all with simplicity: «Duc in altum!» Let us go into the deep with hope. Following in the footsteps of my predecessors, in particular Paul VI and John Paul II, I feel intensely the need for affirm again the irreversible commitment, assumed by the Second Vatican Council and continued over the last years, thanks also to the action of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. The path toward the full communion desired by Jesus for his disciples 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 with only one heart, to obtain from the Good Shepherd the gift of unity for his flock.

How is it possible not to acknowledge, with a spirit of gratitude to God, the fact that our meeting also has the significance of a gift that has been given to us? Christ, Prince of Peace, has worked among us; with generosity he has infused sentiments of friendship, attenuated discords, taught us to live with a greater attitude of dialogue, in harmony with the very commitments of those who bear his name. Your presence, dear Brothers in Christ, beyond that which divides us and darkens our full and visible communion, is a sign of participation and support to the Bishop of Rome, who can count on you to continue on the path with hope and to grow toward him who is the head, Christ.


On this very special occasion, which brings us together precisely at the beginning of my ecclesial service, accepted with fear and in confident obedience to the Lord, I ask you to give example with me of that spiritual ecumenism, which in prayer realizes our communion without obstacles. I transmit to all of you these desires and reflections together with my most cordial greetings so that, through your persons, they may be transmitted to your churches and ecclesial communities.


I turn now to you, dear friends of different religious traditions, and thank you sincerely for your presence at the solemn inauguration of my pontificate. I offer warm and affectionate greetings to you and to all those who belong to the religions that you represent. I am particularly grateful for the presence in our midst of members of the Muslim community, and I express my appreciation for the growth of dialogue between Muslims and Christians, both at the local and international level. I assure you that the Church wants to continue building bridges of friendship with the followers of all religions, in order to seek the true good of every person and of society as a whole.

The world in which we live is often marked by conflicts, violence and war, but it earnestly longs for peace, peace which is above all a gift from God, peace for which we must pray without ceasing. Yet peace is also a duty to which all peoples must be committed, especially those who profess to belong to religious traditions. Our efforts to come together and foster dialogue are a valuable contribution to building peace on solid foundations. Pope John Paul II, my venerable predecessor, wrote at the start of the new millennium that «The name of the one God must become increasingly what it is: a name of peace and a summons to peace» («Novo Millennio Ineunte,» No. 55). It is therefore imperative to engage in authentic and sincere dialogue, built on respect for the dignity of every human person, created, as we Christians firmly believe, in the image and likeness of God (cf. Genesis 1:26-27).


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

[Translation by ZENIT]

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