A "common" patron saint” “” “

St. Andrew: ecumenical feast without forgetting the terrorist attack" "

On 29 November, a delegation sent by John Paul II arrived in Istanbul to associate itself with the feast of St. Andrew, brother of St. Peter and “first called”, patron of the ecumenical Patriarchate. The delegation of the Holy See reciprocates that sent by the ecumenical Patriarchate to Rome, for the feast of the apostles Saints Peter and Paul on 29 June each year. Towards “full communion”. “These feast-days enable us to live to the best the joy of feeling ourselves to be brothers and sharing a communion of intentions and the one same hope; they are a sign of our desire for unity and for full communion, which needs to be encouraged and sought so that it may appear clear also to all those who pray and work for the union of the Christian East and West”. So writes John Paul II to the ecumenical Patriarch and archbishop of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, in a message to mark the feast of the apostle St. Andrew, patron of the ecumenical Patriarchate, celebrated in the church of St. George in the Fanar quarter of Istanbul on Sunday 30 November. “Right from the start – says the Pope’s message – we understood the importance of reciprocal participation in these feasts. It is the most successful expression of our mutual desire to recreate between us a climate of love and participation in each other’s prayer, in such a way as to foster and deepen our desire for closer communion”. Referring to the recent celebrations of the 25th anniversary of his pontificate, the Pope recalled “the numerous events that have characterised the endeavour to ensure that the one Church of Christ may breathe more fully with its two lungs and that the two Churches of West and East, that grew up together for a millennium, may proceed together ever more closely towards full communion”. The Pope then recalled the document signed by Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras which set the seal on this process and in which the reciprocal excommunications of 1054 were rescinded; its 40th anniversary will be celebrated shortly. He also recalled the visit of Bartholomew to Rome in 1995, when St. Peter’s basilica was turned into a symbol of the faith with a ceremony in the Eastern liturgical language and, more recently, the common prayer of Assisi “to implore the gift of peace for a world threatened by hatred”. “We live under the sign of the cross – concludes the Pope – and in the hope of Easter”. “Dialogue must not stop”. “The feast of St. Andrew – declared Msgr. Georges Marovitch, secretary of the apostolic Nunciature in Turkey and president of the Turkish Bishops’ Conference – was an occasion to strengthen our dialogue and friendship with the ecumenical Patriarchate of Constaninople. The ecumenical process cannot turn back, even if difficulties are encountered. All the more so now, after these recent terrorist attacks that threaten relations with the other religions”. “By our presence – explained Msgr. Johan Bonny, official of the Eastern section of the Pontifical Council for the promotion of Christian Unity and member of the Vatican delegation – we wish to increase our relations with the various local churches including the Orthodox churches of Istanbul and to demonstrate to them our friendship and solidarity”. The programme of the visit included a eucharistic celebration for the Catholic community in Istanbul on 29 November and on the following day a liturgy officiated by Bartholomew I and the ‘conversation’ between the Vatican delegation and the synodal Commission for relations with the Catholic Church of the ecumenical Patriarchate. The programme also included a number of visits to non-Catholic bishops, such as the apostolic Armenian Patriarch, Mesrob II, and the bishop of the Syro-Orthodox Church, Mor Filiksinos. The delegation was led by the President of the Pontifical Council for the promotion of Christian Unity, Cardinal Walter Kasper.

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