VATICAN CITY, JUNE 30, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI hopes that the papal primacy will not be seen as an obstacle but as a support for the full unity of Christian churches and confessions.
The Holy Father expressed this hope before praying the Angelus on Wednesday with the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square, many of whom had attended the Mass during which he bestowed the pallium on 32 metropolitan archbishops.
A delegation of the ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, the “first among equals” among the Orthodox Churches, attended the Mass, on the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, patrons of the Diocese of Rome.
“As Bishop of Rome, the Pope performs a unique and indispensable service to the universal Church,” said Benedict XVI. “He is the perpetual and visible beginning and foundation of the unity of bishops and of all the faithful.”
He said the pallium he had just bestowed is “the liturgical sign of the communion that links the See of Peter and his Successor to metropolitans and, through them, with all bishops in the world.”
After greeting the delegation from Constantinople, the Pope said: “How can we not recall today that the primacy of the Church that is in Rome and of her bishops is a primacy of service to Catholic communion?”
“Starting with the double martyrdom of Peter and Paul, all Churches began to look to the one in Rome as a central reference point for doctrinal and pastoral unity.”
Quoting No. 13 of the Second Vatican Council’s dogmatic constitution on the Church, “Lumen Gentium,” Benedict XVI said: “Within the Church particular Churches hold a rightful place; these Churches retain their own traditions, without in any way opposing the primacy of the Chair of Peter, which presides over the whole assembly of charity and protects legitimate differences, while at the same time assuring that such differences do not hinder unity but rather contribute toward it.”
Because of this, the Holy Father said he hoped that “the Petrine ministry of the Bishop of Rome is not seen as a stumbling block but as a support on the journey toward unity.”
After praying the Angelus, the Pope and several members of the Roman Curia lunched in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, the Vatican guesthouse, with the Orthodox delegation from Constantinople.