Pope highlights religious freedom on Edict of Milan anniversary
Pope highlights religious freedom on Edict of Milan
Vatican City, May 15, 2013 / 01:31 pm (CNA/EWTN
News).- Pope Francis stressed the importance of religious freedom in
a message for the 1,700th anniversary of the Roman Emperor Constantine
The Pope said in his message, released May 15 by the Vatican’s Secretary of
State, that “this historical decision” which gave religious freedom to
Christians, “opened new ways to the Gospel and contributed decisively to the
birth of the European culture.”
He added that “thanks to the foresight of civil authorities, the right to
express one’s own faith is respected everywhere,” and Christianity’s continued
contribution “to culture and to the society of our times is accepted.”
Issued in 313 A.D., Emperor Constantine’s decree legalizing Christianity
throughout the Roman Empire is known as the “Edict of Milan.” At the time, the
empire included modern-day Istanbul, which was called Constantinople during that
Cardinal Angelo Scola and the Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople,
Bartholomew I, will celebrate the publication of the edict with a ceremony in
Milan on May 16.
The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, in collaboration with the
Council of Catholic Bishops’ Conferences of Europe, organized the meeting of the
two Church leaders.
Given that the edict impacted Christians in both the East and West, Pope
Francis said in his message that he hopes “that, today as back then, the common
witness of Christians of East and West, supported by the Spirit of the Risen
Christ, contributes to the spread of the message of salvation in Europe and in
the whole world.”
Cardinal Scola will co-chair an ecumenical prayer service and will comment on
the texts chosen for the Liturgy – Acts of the Apostles 26 and John 17 –
alongside Patriarch Bartholomew.
The Byzantine Choir of the Conservatory of Acharnes will sing, and there will
be music from the chapel of the Cathedral of Milan to emphasize the beauty of
After Mass, Cardinal Scola and Patriarch Bartholomew will go down into the
crypt to venerate the relics of Saint Ambrose and the Saints Gervase and
Protaso, a devotion that unites Catholics and Orthodox.
Cardinal Scola will donate to Bartholomew the new Ambrosian Gospels and some
relics of St. Ambrose of Milan, martyrs and witnesses of faith.
This will be the second time an Orthodox patriarch has visited the
Archdiocese of Milan this week, after the Patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox
Church, Pope Tawadros II, stopped there on May 14.
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]