Orthodox Hear Benedict XVI's Plea for Unity

On Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 29, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI pressed his efforts to improve relations with the Orthodox Churches, urging them to focus on what unites them with Rome rather than on centuries-old disputes.

On today’s solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, the patrons of Rome, the Pope also bestowed the pallium on dozens of archbishops.

He addressed part of his homily toward a visiting delegation from the Orthodox Church of Constantinople, which was sent for the occasion by Patriarch Bartholomew I.

The Holy Father greeted the delegation and said: «Even if we still do not agree on the question of the interpretation and of the capacity of the Petrine ministry, we are however together in the apostolic succession, we are profoundly united with the others by the episcopal ministry and by the sacrament of the priesthood and we confess together the faith of the apostles as it is given in Scripture and as it is interpreted in the great Councils.»

«In this hour of the world, full of skepticism and doubts but rich in the desire for God, we acknowledge again our common mission to witness together Christ the Lord and, on the basis of that unity that is already given to us, to help the world believe,» Benedict XVI said.

«And we entreat the Lord with all our heart to guide us to full unity so that the splendor of the truth, which alone can create unity, will again become visible in the world,» he added.

Pallium given

During the Mass, the Holy Father bestowed the pallium on dozens of metropolitan archbishops from around the world, a symbol of their bond with him.

Among them was Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, Pope John Paul II’s longtime private secretary who recently was named archbishop of Krakow, Poland. Applause rang out when he went up to receive the pallium from Benedict XVI.

The Holy Father told the archbishops: «You are about to receive the pallium from the hands of the Successor of Peter. We had it blessed, as from Peter himself, putting it beside his tomb. Now it is an expression of our common responsibility before the ‘Arch-Shepherd’ Jesus Christ, of whom Peter speaks.»

«The pallium is an expression of our apostolic mission,» he said. «It is an expression of our communion, which has its visible greatness in the Petrine ministry. Linked with the unity, as well as with the apostolicity, is the Petrine ministry, which gathers visibly the Church of all parts and of all times, defending in this way each one of us from sliding into false autonomies, which too easily are transformed into internal particularizations of the Church and can so compromise her internal independence.

«Together with this we do not want to forget that the meaning of all the functions and ministries is, at the end, that ‘we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,’ so that the body of Christ will grow ‘and build itself up in love.'»

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