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Joint Statement of Pope and Ecumenical Patriarch

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  • Bill Samsonoff
    Zenit News Agency - Rome,Italy Code: ZE04070103 Date: 2004-07-01 Joint Statement of Pope and
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 1, 2004
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      Zenit News Agency - Rome,Italy
      <http://www.zenit.org/english/visualizza.phtml?sid=56207>
      Code: ZE04070103
      Date: 2004-07-01
      Joint Statement of Pope and Ecumenical Patriarch

      "We Have Continued the 'Dialogue of Charity'"


      VATICAN CITY, JULY 1, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the Joint
      Declaration signed by John Paul II and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I
      of Constantinople and published today.

      * * *

      "Be watchful, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong. Let all
      that you do be done in love" (1 Corinthians 16:13-14).

      1. In the spirit of faith in Christ and of the reciprocal charity that
      unites us, we thank God for the gift of this our new meeting, which takes
      place on the feast of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, evidencing our firm
      resolve to continue on the path toward full communion between us in Christ.

      2. Many are the positive steps that have characterized this common path,
      especially beginning with the historical event that we recall today: the
      embrace between Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras I in Jerusalem, on
      the Mount of Olives, on January 5-6 of 1964. Today, we, their Successors,
      meet again together to commemorate worthily before God, in fidelity to the
      memory and the original intentions, that blessed meeting, now part of the
      history of the Church.

      3. The embrace of our respective Predecessors of venerated memory in
      Jerusalem expressed visibly a hope present in the heart of everyone, as the
      Statement referred: "With our eyes turned to Christ, archetype and author,
      with the Father, of unity and peace, they pray to God that this meeting be
      the sign and prelude of things to come for the glory of God and the
      illumination of his faithful people. After so many centuries of silence,
      they have now met with the desire to fulfill the will of the Lord and to
      proclaim the ancient truth of his Gospel entrusted to the Church."1

      4. Unity and Peace! The hope lit by that historical meeting has illuminated
      the path of these last decades. Aware that the Christian world has been
      suffering for centuries the tragedy of separation, our Predecessors and we
      ourselves have with perseverance continued the "dialogue of charity," with
      our gaze turned to that luminous and blessed day in which it will be
      possible to commune at the same chalice of the holy Body and the precious
      Blood of the Lord.2 The many ecclesial events, which have characterized the
      last forty years, have given foundation and consistency to the commitment
      of fraternal charity: a charity that, bearing lessons of the past, will be
      ready to pardon, incline to believe more readily in the good than in the
      evil, that will attempt first of all to conform itself to the Divine
      Redeemer, and to allow itself to be drawn and transformed by Him.3

      5. I thank the Lord for the exemplary gestures of reciprocal charity, of
      participation and sharing, which he has given us to fulfill, among which it
      is proper to recall the visit of the Pope to Ecumenical Patriarch Dimitrios
      in 1979, when, in the See of Fanar, the creation of the "International
      Mixed Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and
      the Orthodox Church in their ensemble" was announced, a further step to
      support the "dialogue of charity," the "dialogue of truth"; the visit of
      Patriarch Dimitrios to Rome in 1987; our meeting in Rome, on the feast of
      Sts. Peter and Paul in 1995, when we prayed in St. Peter's, though
      separating painfully during the celebration of the Eucharistic Liturgy,
      because it was not yet possible to drink from the same chalice of the Lord.
      Then, more recently, the meeting in Assisi for the "Day of Prayer for Peace
      in the World" and the Joint Declaration for the Safeguarding of Creation,
      signed in 2002.

      6. Despite our firm resolve to continue on the path toward full communion,
      it would have been unrealistic not to expect obstacles of various kinds:
      doctrinal first of all, but also deriving from the conditioning of a
      difficult history. Moreover, new problems arose from the profound changes
      that took place in the European sociopolitical realm, which were not free
      from consequences in relations between the Christian Churches. With the
      return to freedom of Christians in Central and Eastern Europe, old fears
      were reawakened, making dialogue difficult. St. Paul's exhortation to the
      Corinthians, "May everything be done among you in charity," must still,
      however, resound within and among us.

      7. The "International Mixed Commission for Theological Dialogue between the
      Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church in their ensemble," begun with so
      much hope, has marked the steps in the last years. It can still remain as
      an ideal instrument to study the ecclesiological and historical problems,
      which are at the base of our difficulties, and find possible solutions. It
      is our duty to continue in the decided commitment to reactivate the works
      as soon as possible. In recognition of the reciprocal initiatives in this
      connection of the Sees of Rome and of Constantinople, we turn to the Lord
      so that he will sustain our resolve and convince all of how indispensable
      it is to continue the "dialogue of truth."

      8. Our meeting today in Rome also enables us to address fraternally some
      problems and misunderstandings that have arisen recently. The long practice
      of the "dialogue of charity" comes to our aid precisely in these
      circumstances, so that the difficulties may be addressed with serenity and
      not slow down and darken the path undertaken toward full communion in Christ.

      9. In the face of a world suffering all kinds of divisions and imbalances,
      today's meeting is an effort to recall in a concrete way and with force the
      importance that Christians and Churches live among themselves in peace and
      harmony, to witness concordantly the message of the Gospel in a more
      credible and convincing way.

      10. In the particular context of Europe, on the way toward higher forms of
      integration and enlargement towards the East of the Continent, let us thank
      the Lord for this positive development and express the hope that in this
      new situation collaboration between Catholics and Orthodox will grow. So
      many are the challenges to be addressed together to contribute to the good
      of society: to heal with love the wound of terrorism, to infuse a hope of
      peace, to contribute to cure so many painful conflicts; to restore to the
      European continent the awareness of its Christian roots; to construct a
      real dialogue with Islam, because from indifference and reciprocal
      ignorance only diffidence and even hatred can ensue; to nourish the
      awareness of the sacredness of human life; to operate so that science will
      not deny the divine spark that every man receives with the gift of life; to
      collaborate so that this earth of ours is not disfigured and creation is
      able to preserve the beauty God has given it; but above all, to proclaim
      with renewed commitment the evangelical message, showing contemporary man
      how much the Gospel can help him to find himself and to build a more humane
      world.

      11. Let us pray that the Lord give peace to the Church and the world and
      that he vivify with the wisdom of his Spirit our path toward full
      communion, "ut unum in Cristo simus."
      * * *
      1 Joint Statement of Pope Paul VI and of Patriarch Athenagoras I, Agapis
      Volumes, Vatican, Fanar, 1971, n. 50, p. 120.
      2 See Allocution of Patriarch Athenagoras I to Pope Paul VI , (January 5,
      1964), ibid., n. 48, p. 109.
      3 See Allocution of Pope Paul VI to Patriarch Athenagoras I, (January 6,
      1964), ibid., n. 49, p. 117.
      [Translation by ZENIT]
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