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Relations between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church

The Vatican, June 29, 2004

“Be watchful, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love” (I Cor 16: 13-14).

1. In the spirit of faith in Christ and the reciprocal love that unites us, we thank God for this gift of our new meeting that is taking place on the Feast of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul and witnesses to our firm determination to continue on our way towards full communion with one another in Christ.

2. Many positive steps have marked our common journey, starting above all with the historical event that we are recalling today: the embrace of Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras I on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, on 5 and 6 January 1964. We, their Successors, are meeting today to commemorate fittingly before God that blessed encounter, now part of the history of the Church, faithfully recalling it and its original intentions.

3. The embrace in Jerusalem of our respective Predecessors of venerable memory visibly expressed a hope that dwells in all hearts, as the Communiqué declared: “With eyes turned to Christ, together with the Father, the Archetype and Author of unity and of peace, they pray God that this encounter may be the sign and prelude of things to come for the glory of God and the enlightenment of his faithful people. After so many centuries of silence, they have now met with the desire to do the Lord’s will and to proclaim the ancient truth of his Gospel, entrusted to the Church” (Common Declaration of Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras I, Tomos Agapis, Vatican-Phanar, 1971, n. 50, p. 120).

4. Unity and Peace! The hope kindled by that historic encounter has lit up our journey in these last decades. Aware that the Christian world has suffered the tragedy of separation for centuries, our Predecessors and we ourselves have persevered in the “dialogue of charity”, our gaze turned to that blessed, shining day on which it will be possible to communicate with the same cup of the precious Blood and the holy Body of the Lord (cf. Patriarch Athenagoras I, Address to Pope Paul VI [5 January 1964], ibid., n. 48, p. 109). The many ecclesial events that have punctuated these past years have put on firm foundations the commitment to brotherly love: a love which, in learning from past lessons, may be ready to forgive, more inclined to believe in good than in evil and intent first and foremost on complying with the Divine Redeemer and in being attracted and transformed by him (Address of Pope Paul VI to Patriarch Athenagoras I [6 January 1964], ibid., n. 49, p. 117).

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