Benedict XVI Tells Alexy II the Times Urge Haste

By Inmaculada Álvarez

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 6, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI sent a personal message to Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II saying that modern times call for a hastening of the journey toward Christian unity.

The Sept. 22 message was hand-delivered to Alexy II by the archbishop of Naples, Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, on an official visit to Moscow at the invitation of the patriarch. The cardinal gave the message to the patriarch in a meeting that lasted a little more than an hour last Thursday.

"I have a deep affection for all the Orthodox brethren, and I am particularly close to them in these most recent days when conflict has caused significant suffering to peoples so dear to me," the Holy Father said. "I never cease to offer daily prayers for peace, asking the Lord that the appeals of Your Holiness to resolve all hostility for the good of the nations may be heeded."

He added: "Faith in Our Lord Jesus Christ is a bond that unites hearts in a profound way and invites us all to strengthen our commitment to manifest to the world a shared witness of living together respectfully and peacefully.

"Our times, marked so often by conflict and grief, make it even more necessary to hasten the journey toward the full unity of all the disciples of Christ, so that the joyous message of salvation may be spread to all humanity."

Getting closer

Cardinal Sepe told Vatican Radio on the day of his meeting with Alexy II that the Orthodox and Catholic Churches are growing ever closer, "as the patriarch himself emphasized with emotion."

"The impression is that a very important step has been taken to create a climate of closeness and mutual respect, of fraternity and friendship," he added.

Bishop Vincenzo Paglia of Terni, president of the Italian bishops' ecumenism commission, who was also present in the meeting with Alexy II, said that the process of growing closer should proceed with meetings between the various pastors of both Churches.

On the path to unity, the bishop added, "meetings between experts are no longer sufficient." Rather, ecumenism "is a coming together of the Churches."

And, Bishop Paglia affirmed, ecumenism is more and more "a demand of contemporary society."

"The harmony between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church is ever more evident," he said, referring to the challenges presented to all Christians in Europe and contemporary society. "Certain limits and challenges can only be faced from a perspective of unity."

ZE08100604 - 2008-10-06
Permalink: http://www.zenit.org/article-23824?l=english

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On the Net:

Benedict XVI's letter: www.zenit.org/article-23823?l=english


Teachings of Christ

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God." (Matthew 5:9 ESV)

Christ is Born!

Your Nativity, O Christ our God, * has dawned upon the world the light of knowledge. * for through it, those who served the stars * were taught by a star to worship You, the Sun of Righteousness * and to know You, the Dawn from on high. * Glory to You, O Lord! (Troparion, Tone 4)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Today the Virgin gives birth to the Transcendent One, * and the earth offers a cave to the Unapproachable One. * Angels and shepherds sing His glory; * Wise Men journey with a star * for there is born for us an infant Child, the God Who is before all ages. (Kontakion, Tone 3)

Random Proverb

"Hear, O sons, a father's instruction, and be attentive, that you may gain insight, for I give you good precepts; do not forsake my teaching." (Proverbs 4:1,2 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

There is nothing impossible unto those who believe; lively and unshaken faith can accomplish great miracles in the twinkling of an eye. Besides, even without our sincere and firm faith, miracles are accomplished, such as the miracles of the sacraments; for God's Mystery is always accomplished, even though we were incredulous or unbelieving at the time of its celebration. "Shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?" (Rom. 3:3). Our wickedness shall not overpower the unspeakable goodness and mercy of God; our dullness shall not overpower God's wisdom, nor our infirmity God's omnipotence.

St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ