Pope's Message to Ecumenical Patriarch for Feast of St. Andrew

«The Present Circumstances … Present to Catholics and Orthodox the Same Challenge»

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 30, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of Benedict XVI’s message to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I for today’s feast of St. Andrew. The message is dated last Thursday.

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«May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing» (Romans 15:13)

In the communion of faith that we have received from the Apostles and in the fraternal charity that unites us, I unite myself wholeheartedly to the solemn celebration that Your Holiness presides over on the feast of the Apostle and Martyr St. Andrew, brother of Peter and holy Protector of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, to wish Your Holiness, the members of the Holy Synod, the clergy and all the faithful, an abundance of heavenly gifts and divine blessings. My prayers, like those of all my Catholic brothers and sisters, accompany yours to invoke from God, our Father, who loves his Church and built it on the foundation of the Apostles, peace in the whole world, prosperity for the Church and the unity of all those who believe in Christ. The delegation I have sent you, led by my venerable brother Cardinal Kurt Koch, to whom I have entrusted this message of congratulations, is the tangible sign of my participation and I offer you the fraternal greeting of the Church of Rome.

I keep in my heart the still very fresh memory of our last meeting, when together, we made ourselves pilgrims of peace, in the city of Assisi, to reflect on the profound relation that unites the sincere search for God, for truth, for peace and justice in the world. I thank the Lord who has enabled me to reinforce with Your Holiness the bonds of sincere friendship and genuine fraternity that unite us, and to give witness to the whole world of the broad vision we share in regard to the responsibilities to which we are called as Christians and pastors of the flock that God has entrusted to us.

The present circumstances, whether of the cultural, social, economic, political or ecological order, present to Catholics and Orthodox the same challenge. The proclamation of the mystery of salvation through the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ must be renewed forcefully today in the numerous regions that received the first light and today suffer the effects of a secularization capable of impoverishing man in his most profound dimension. Given the urgency of this task, we have the duty to offer the whole of humanity the image of persons mature in the faith, capable of coming together despite human tensions, thanks to the common search for truth, being conscious that the future of evangelization depends on the witness of unity given by the Church and of the quality of charity, as the Lord taught us in the prayer he gave us: «that they may all be one, so that the world may believe» (John 17:21). It is a great consolation for me to know that Your Holiness also, since you were called to the ministry of archbishop of Constantinople and of ecumenical patriarch 20 years ago, has always had present the question of the witness of the Church and of Your Holiness, in the contemporary world.

Holiness, on this day in which we celebrate the feast of the Apostle Andrew, we raise once again our ardent prayer to the Lord so that he will grant us to progress on the path of peace and reconciliation. That we may, through the intercession of St. Andrew and of Sts. Peter and Paul, holy patrons of the Church of Constantinople, and of the Church of Rome, respectively, receive the gift of unity that comes to us from on High.

With these sentiments of faith, charity and hope, I reiterate to you, Holiness, my most fervent congratulations and I exchange with you a fraternal embrace in Christ our Lord.

[Translation by ZENIT]
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