BARI, Italy, MAY 29, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI reiterated his commitment to Christian unity, saying that he will offer “concrete gestures” to foster progress on the ecumenical path.
The Pope restated his commitment today in Bari, during his homily at the closing Mass of the 24th Italian National Eucharistic Congress.
The city in Apulia is a bridge between Catholics and Orthodox, as it was historically the meeting point between Eastern and Western European culture.
The Holy Father repeated what he as the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith frequently affirmed: The Eucharist “is the sacrament of unity.”
“But, unfortunately, Christians are divided precisely on the sacrament of unity,” he said. “All the more reason, therefore, that, supported by the Eucharist, we must feel stimulated to tend with all our strength toward that full unity that Christ ardently desired in the cenacle.
“I would like to confirm my wish to assume as a fundamental commitment to work with all my energies in the reconstitution of the full and visible unity of all the followers of Christ.”
“I am aware that to do so, expressions of good sentiments are not enough,” Benedict XVI continued. “Concrete gestures are required that will penetrate spirits and stir consciences, inviting each one to that interior conversion that is the premise of all progress on the path of ecumenism.”
The Pope confirmed this commitment on April 25, just after his election as Bishop of Rome, when meeting with Christian delegations who a day earlier attended the Mass for the solemn inauguration of his pontificate.
The Holy Father appealed to the 200,000 people present in Bari’s esplanade of Marisabella “to undertake with determination the path of that spiritual ecumenism, which in prayer opens the doors to the Holy Spirit, the only one who can create unity.”
On May 25, during the congress, Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, proposed a Synod of Reconciliation in Bari between Catholic and Orthodox bishops, as the one celebrated in that city in 1098.
To all Christians, including Protestants, the cardinal proposed an alliance in defense of fundamental Christian values, which today are denied, especially in Europe.