Benedict XVI Lauds Ecumenical Progress

Greets Bartholomew I for Feast of St. Andrew

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 30, 2008 ( Benedict XVI says the relationship between Catholics and Orthodox is going deeper and he expressed his trust that the day will come when both Churches will share the celebration of the Eucharist.

The Pope affirmed this in a message that he sent to the ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, on the occasion of today’s feast of St. Andrew.

«[W]e reflect with joy and thanksgiving that the relations between us are entering progressively deeper levels as we renew our commitment to the path of prayer and dialogue,» the Holy Father said. «We trust that our common journey will hasten the arrival of that blessed day when we will praise God together in a shared celebration of the Eucharist. The inner life of our Churches and the challenges of our modem world urgently demand this witness of unity among Christ’s disciples.»

The Pontiff sent his message with a Vatican delegation that visited Bartholomew I for the festivities of the feast day.

The president and secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Cardinal Walter Kasper and Bishop Brian Farrell, respectively, were accompanied by Dominican Father Vladimiro Caroli, of the council, and Archbishop Antonio Lucibello, the apostolic nuncio in Ankara, in the delegation.

Meanwhile in the Vatican, Benedict XVI mentioned the patriarch after he prayed the midday Angelus with crowds in St. Peter’s Square.

He explained how Andrew and Peter, as brothers, were both followers of John the Baptist and then became disciples of Jesus and the Lord’s baptism in the Jordan, «recognizing him as the Messiah.»

«St. Andrew is the patron of the patriarchate of Constantinople and so the Church of Rome feels linked to the Church of Constantinople by a special fraternal bond,» Benedict XVI said. «[…] With all my heart, I offer my greeting and my best wishes to him and to the faithful of the patriarchate, invoking the abundance of heavenly blessings upon all.»

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