VATICAN CITY, FEB. 6, 2003 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II proposed to Serbian Orthodox that they promote peace initiatives together with Catholics in order to avoid another 1990s-style Balkans bloodbath.
The Pope made this proposal today to a delegation of the Serbian Orthodox Patriarchate, headed by Metropolitan Amfilohije of Montenegro, who was sent to the Vatican by Patriarch Pavle of Belgrade, to promote ecumenical relations with the Catholic Church.
“The Churches have the task to act according to the model of the Good Samaritan,” the Pope said. “They must forget their common sufferings, heal the wounds, and promote that purification of the memory from which will arise sincere forgiveness and fraternal collaboration.”
In the wake of the Balkans conflict, the Holy Father highlighted the challenge of integration in the new Europe that awaits Serbian Orthodox, and acknowledged the contribution of the Orthodox Church in forging the Christian soul of the continent.
“The Christian identity of Europe, shaped at its roots by the two traditions, Western and Eastern, seems at times to be called into question,” John Paul II continued.
“This should lead us to seek and promote every type of cooperation that will allow Orthodox and Catholics to give together a living and convincing witness of their common tradition,” he said.
To achieve this, it is not enough that this witness be manifested in the promotion of “evangelical values like peace, the dignity of the person, the defense of life and of justice in today’s society.”
Rather, it also calls for “rapprochement and consolidation of that fraternity that should characterize ecclesial relations between Catholics and Orthodox,” the Holy Father concluded.