Patriarch Bartholomew I, the ecumenical patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church, arrived in Rome on Saturday to open the celebration of the Pauline Year with Pope Benedict.
At the reception ceremony for Bartholomew I, the Pope told the patriarch that he was happy to learn that he had also called a Pauline Year to commemorate the 2000th anniversary of the birth of the Apostle of the Gentiles.
"This happy coincidence", Benedict said, "highlights the roots of our shared Christian vocation and the significant harmony of feelings and of pastoral commitment we are experiencing. For this I give thanks to the Lord Jesus Christ, Who guides our path to unity with the strength of His Spirit.”
With the world experiencing tumult in many places, the Holy Father pointed to St. Paul’s message to the early Christian community in Corinth. “St. Paul, reminds us that full communion between all Christians has its foundation in 'one Lord, one faith, one Baptism'. ... To the Christians of Corinth, among whom discord had arisen, St. Paul did not hesitate to make a strong call for them all to remain in agreement, for there to be no divisions among them, and for them to unite in the same mind and purpose."
The persistent divisions and conflicts of today’s world, the Pope said, lead men and women to feel a “growing need for certainty and peace. However, at the same time, they remain lost, as if ensnared by a certain form of hedonist and relativist culture which throws doubt upon the very existence of truth.”
Into the midst of this culture, the Holy Father instructed, “The Apostle's guidance…is extremely helpful in encouraging efforts aimed at seeking full unity among Christians, which is so necessary in order to offer humankind of the third millennium an ever more resplendent witness of Christ, Way, Truth and Life. Only in Christ and in His Gospel can humanity find the answer to its deepest hopes."
Pope Benedict closed his greetings to the patriarch by praying that the Pauline Year "help Christian people to renew their ecumenical commitment, and may there be an intensification of joint efforts on the journey to the full communion of all Christ's disciples.”