VATICAN CITY, APRIL 11, 2004 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II again proposed that Christians in the East and West agree to celebrate Easter on the same day every year.
Taking advantage of the “happy coincidence” that Easter was celebrated this year on the same day by the Gregorian (West) and Julian (East) calendars, the Pope renewed a proposal he made years ago.
After imparting his traditional blessing, delivering his Easter Message, and expressing greetings in 62 languages today, the Holy Father addressed special greetings to the patriarchs, bishops and faithful of the Eastern Churches, most of whom are Orthodox.
“I pray to the risen Lord that all of us baptized will soon be able to relive every year together on the same day this fundamental feast of our faith,” he said.
Easter, the central feast of the Christian calendar, is movable, as it is observed on the first Sunday after the full moon of the spring equinox, that is, between March 22 and April 25.
Because of the disorders that characterized the Julian calendar (established by Julius Caesar in 46 B.C.), Pope Gregory XIII (1582) had the calendar reformed, taking into consideration new criteria for calculating the day of Easter. The Eastern Churches, however, did not adhere to this change.
The appendix of “Sacrosanctum Concilium,” the Second Vatican Council’s dogmatic constitution on the sacred liturgy, expressed willingness to come to an agreement with the churches separated from Rome on a common date for Easter.