Unity Called a Goal and a Gift

Pope Greets Armenian Catholicos at Audience

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 26, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is welcoming Armenian Catholicos Aram I to Rome with gratitude for the latter’s ecumenical efforts, and prayers for continual unity between the Catholic and Oriental Orthodox Churches.

The Pope expressed his welcome today at the general audience. He devoted his first words to greet His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of Cilicia of the Armenians, with the bishops, delegates and pilgrims accompanying him.

«This fraternal visit is a significant occasion for strengthening the bonds of unity already existing between us,» the Pontiff said, «as we journey toward that full communion which is both the goal set before all Christ’s followers and a gift to be implored daily from the Lord.»

The Bishop of Rome expressed his prayer to the Holy Spirit to bless the pilgrimage of the group to the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul. He continued by inviting «all present to pray fervently to the Lord that your visit, and our meetings, will mark a further step along the path toward full unity.»

Benedict XVI thanked Aram I for his role in ecumenical efforts, «especially in the International Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches, and in the World Council of Churches.»

«On the exterior facade of the Vatican Basilica,» continued the Holy Father, «is a statue of St. Gregory the Illuminator, founder of the Armenian Church, whom one of your historians has called ‘our progenitor and father in the Gospel.’ The presence of this statue evokes the sufferings he endured in bringing the Armenian people to Christianity, but it also recalls the many martyrs and confessors of the faith whose witness bore rich fruit in the history of your people.»

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