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Pope encourages Catholics to pray for Christian unity in wake of meeting with Orthodox Patriarch

.- During yesterday’s Angelus the Holy Father encouraged Catholics to pray for Christian unity after he announced that on June 29, Solemnity of St. Peter and Paul, Apostles, he will receive in the Vatican Bartholomew I, ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople.

"We want to commemorate together the historic encounter between our venerable predecessors Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras who exchanged an unforgettable embrace of fraternity and peace in Jerusalem forty years ago ... during the Second Vatican Council," said the Pope.

"Precisely in November of the same year," he recalled, "the council Fathers approved the decree 'Unitatis redintegratio.' In this decree, it was solemnly affirmed that  promoting unity between all Christians was one of the principal objectives of the Council, and that to achieve this all the institutions and ecclesial communities must direct their efforts toward achieving this objective."

John Paul II said that "during this period, in spite of the difficulties that remain even today, notable steps have been taken toward ecumenism and within the People of God an ecumenical sensitivity has developed.

“The week of Prayer for Christian Unity has come to form a normal part of the liturgical-pastoral path of dioceses and parishes.  Many are the associations and ecclesial communities that dedicate constant attention to reciprocal knowledge and friendship among Christians of different confessions, such that they are united more and more in works of solidarity, justice and peace," he said.

"While we prepare ourselves to welcome the ecumenical patriarch," he concluded, "I invite everyone to pray for Christian unity, invoking the intercession of Our Lady. May the Holy Mother of God, to whom so many Eastern Christians are devoted, allow the embrace between Paul VI and Athenagoras I to favor a renewed commitment to communion between Orthodox and Catholics."

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