Says They Are Causes of JoyVATICAN CITY, JAN. 24, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI reviewed key ecumenical meetings that he participated in during 2006, saying they were significant moments in the move toward Christian unity.
The Pope said this today at the general audience held in Paul VI Hall.
He began the review by recalling the official visit of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches last January: "The international Catholic-Reformed Commission presented a document, for the consideration of the respective authorities, which concluded with a process of dialogue initiated in 1970, which has lasted, therefore, 36 years."
Last Jan. 25, the first stage of preparation for the third European Ecumenical Assembly was launched in Rome. The assembly was then held in September in Sibiu, Romania.
During Wednesday audiences, the Pontiff received the delegations of the World Baptist Alliance and of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the United States.
"I had the opportunity, moreover, to meet with the leaders of the Orthodox Church of Georgia, which I follow with affection, continuing the bond of friendship that united His Holiness Ilia II with my venerated predecessor, the Servant of God Pope John Paul II," said Benedict XVI on the eve of the closing of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
The German Pope also recalled that the Holy See attended the summit of religious leaders, held in Moscow in July, at the initiative of Alexy II, Orthodox patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.
"Useful afterward was the visit of Metropolitan Kirill of the Patriarchate of Moscow, who expressed the intention to reach a more explicit normalization of our bilateral relations," the Pontiff added.
In November, the Holy Father was visited by Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury and primate of the Anglican Communion.
"I shared with him and his entourage a significant moment of prayer in the Redemptoris Mater chapel of the Apostolic Palace," the Pope said.
Benedict XVI then mentioned "the unforgettable apostolic journey to Turkey" from Nov. 28 to Dec. 1 and, in particular, the meeting with the Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople.
In December, the Holy Father was visited for the first time by Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece.
"Are these not perhaps instances of lofty spiritual values, moments of joy, of great significance in this slow ascent to unity of which I have spoken?" the Pontiff continued. "These moments illuminate the commitment, often silent, but intense, that unites us in the quest for unity. They encourage us to make every possible effort to continue on this slow but important ascent."