Pope says working to heal rift with Christians is "fundamental" commitment

.- During his apostolic trip to Bari yesterday morning to close the 24th Italian Eucharistic Congress, Pope Benedict XVI promised his “full commitment” to reestablishing “the full and visible unity of all Christ's followers." Speaking on the need Christians have for the Eucharist and the Sunday celebration, the Holy Father told the gathered 200,000 that the Christ who we encounter in the Sacrament of the Eucharist "is the one and same Christ present in the Eucharistic bread all over the world.”

“This means”, he said, “we can encounter Him only together with everyone else. We can only receive Him in unity."

He said that "The consequence of this is clear--we cannot communicate with the Lord if we do not communicate with one another. ... For this it is necessary to learn the great lesson of forgiveness: do not let resentment gnaw at the soul, but open your hearts to the magnanimity of listening to others."

The Pope continued on this theme of the Eucharist as "the Sacrament of unity," expressing profound sadness that the Eucharist itself is a cause of division among Christians.

"Even more so then, supported by the Eucharist,” he said, “we must feel stimulated to tend with all our strength towards that full unity that Christ so ardently anticipated in the Cenacle.”

“Here in Bari,” he continued, “the city that holds the bones of St. Nicholas, a land of meeting and dialogue with our brother Christians of the East, I would like to reiterate a fundamental commitment: my desire to work with all my energy to reconstituting the full and visible unity of all Christ's followers."

He acknowledged that, “to this end, expressions of good intentions are not enough. Concrete gestures are needed. Gestures that enter into souls and move consciences, calling everyone to that interior conversion that is the prerequisite for all progress on the road of ecumenism.”

“I ask you all”, he implored, “to start decisively down the road to that spiritual ecumenism which, in prayer, opens the doors to the Holy Spirit, Who alone can create unity."

Before praying the traditional Sunday Angelus prayer with the faithful, the Pope said that, "Our hearts are full of gratitude, to God and to all those who have worked for the realization of such an extraordinary ecclesial event, particularly meaningful because it takes place in the Year of the Eucharist, which has had in the Congress its most outstanding moment."

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