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Sunday, 4 July 2004


1. I feel in my heart the most profound gratitude to God for the recent visit of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, His Holiness Bartholomew I, to whom, together with his highly qualified entourage, I have had the joy of offering hospitality at the Vatican in these days. Together, we celebrated the feast of the holy Apostles, Peter and Paul, commemorating the historic meeting between our venerable Predecessors, Paul VI and Athenagoras I, which took place 40 years ago in Jerusalem.

We also signed a Common Declaration that confirms and reactivates the commitment of Catholics and Orthodox to the service of the great cause of the full communion of Christians.

2. Recognizing the positive steps we have taken so far and without forgetting the obstacles that still exist, we reasserted our desire to continue and indeed to intensify the ecumenical dialogue, in both fraternal relations ("dialogue of charity") and the comparison of doctrine ("dialogue of truth").

In this spirit, we were able to confront certain problems and misunderstandings that have recently emerged, offering a concrete sign of how Christians can and must always collaborate, even in the presence of divisions and conflicts. This is an eloquent way of proclaiming the Gospel of peace in a world which is unfortunately all too often scarred by imbalances and violence.

At our meeting, the realization also emerged that Catholics and Orthodox are called to work together to ensure that the European Continent does not forget its own Christian roots. Only in this way will Europe be able to carry out her proper role in the dialogue between the civilizations and in the promotion of justice, solidarity and the protection of creation across the world.

3. May God bring to fruition the resolutions formulated at this meeting. Let us entrust them to the maternal intercession of Mary Most Holy.

At the conclusion of the Angelus, the Holy Father announced to the faithful the following: 

In accepting an invitation from the Bishop of Aosta, please God, I will be leaving tomorrow to spend a few days in the Valle d'Aosta. While I prepare for this brief summer holiday, my thoughts go to families who in this period have planned their own holidays:  I hope they will be calm and relaxing for them all.

At the same time, I am thinking of all the people who for various reasons will be unable to take a real and proper holiday. I hope that each one can make the most of the essential pause in his or her work activity, and that suitable recreational initiatives, enriched by genuine human relations, will be promoted to relieve people who are lonely and in difficulty.

I greet the pilgrims present, especially the many young people of the Civil Volunteer Service of the local tourist-boards meeting in Rome for a national convention and the Choir of Sacred Heart Parish in Bellizzi, as well as the faithful from the Diocese of Naples. I also greet the Easy-Rider Association, present in St Peters with a great many Ferraris.
I wish you all a good Sunday!


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