VATICAN CITY, APRIL 27, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI urged the continuation of dialogue toward Christian unity when sending greetings to the Eastern Churches that are celebrating Easter.
The Pope said today before praying the Regina Caeli with several thousand people gathered in St. Peter’s Square: “Today many Eastern Churches, following the Julian Calendar, celebrate the great solemnity of Easter. I would like to express my fraternal spiritual nearness to these brothers and sisters of ours.
“I cordially greet them, praying that the God who is one and three will confirm them in the faith, fill them with the splendorous light that emanates from the resurrection of the Lord and to comfort them in the difficult situations that they often find themselves living and witnessing to the Gospel.”
He continued, “I invite all to join with me in invoking the Mother of God, that the road of dialogue and collaboration that was started upon sometime ago will soon lead to a more complete communion among all the disciples of Christ, that they may be a luminous sign of hope for all humanity.”
The Council of Nicaea established that the day of Easter should fall on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the vernal equinox. The difference of dates for the Catholic and Orthodox Churches is due to fact that they follow different calendars.
The Catholic Church, following the Gregorian calendar, normally celebrates Easter earlier than the Eastern Churches, which are mainly Orthodox, that follow the Julian calendar. Last year the two coincided with the celebration of Easter on April 8.
The next time Easter coincides for the two Churches will be April 4, 2010.