Pope Benedict greeted His Holiness Catholicos Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, during his weekly general audience on Wednesday morning. In his remarks, the Pope emphasized that ecumenical dialogue is fuelled by the Holy Spirit and prayer.
"It is my great joy today to greet His Holiness Catholicos Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, and the distinguished delegation accompanying him. Your Holiness, I pray that the light of the Holy Spirit will illumine your pilgrimage to the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul, the important meetings you will have here, and particularly our personal conversations. I ask all who are present today to pray for God's blessing upon this visit.”
The Holy Father also thanked Karekin II for his “personal commitment to the growing friendship between the Armenian Apostolic Church and the Catholic Church.” Recalling the string of visits between John Paul II and the patriarch, Pope Benedict said that, “I am sure that this spirit of friendship will be further deepened during the coming days.”
In an external niche of Saint Peter's Basilica, there is a fine statue of Saint Gregory the Illuminator, founder of the Armenian Church. It serves to remind us of the severe persecutions suffered by Armenian Christians, especially during the last century. Armenia's many martyrs are a sign of the power of the Holy Spirit working in times of darkness, and a pledge of hope for Christians everywhere.
Your Holiness, dear Bishops and dear friends, together with you I implore Almighty God, through the intercession of Saint Gregory the Illuminator, to help us grow in unity, in one holy bond of Christian faith, hope and love."
As the Church prepares to celebrate Pentecost, Benedict XVI said that these days should “renew our hope in the help of the Holy Spirit to advance along the path of ecumenism. We have the certainty that the Lord Jesus never abandons us in our search for unity, because His Spirit is tirelessly at work to support the efforts we make to overcome all forms of division."
"Since the first moment of her existence the Church, thanks to the power of the Holy Spirit, has spoken in all tongues and lived in all cultures. She destroys nothing of their history and gifts, but assumes them all in a great and new unity, which reconciles unity with the multiplicity of forms. With its power, the Holy Spirit ... unites divided man in divine charity and thus creates ... the great community which is the Church in all the world."
While some may think of Pentecost as a one-time event in the life of the Church, the Holy Father said, "the Church is always, so to say, in a state of Pentecost. Gathered in the Cenacle, she prays incessantly to obtain ever new effusions of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, ... and is not afraid to announce the Gospel to the furthest confines of the earth. This is why, faced with difficulties and divisions, Christians cannot resign themselves or give way to discouragement.
"This is what Christ asks of Christians: to persevere in prayer in order to keep alive the flame of faith, hope and charity, and the longing for full unity", the Pope encouraged.
Referencing his speech to ecumenical leaders at St. Joseph’s Church in New York, Benedict XVI said that prayer is central to the ecumenical movement. “In this period of globalization and, at the same time, of fragmentation, 'without prayer ecumenical structures, institutions and programs would be deprived of their heart and soul'," he said.
At the end of the audience, the Holy Father greeted pilgrims in several languages. Among the English speaking pilgrims, he greeted delegates taking part in the in the Annual Conference of the Canon Law Society of Great Britain and Ireland, as well as pilgrims from Our Lady of the Rosary Church in Qatar.
"Upon all the English-speaking pilgrims, especially those from England, Scotland, Australia, India, Indonesia, Korea, Canada, Guam and the United States, I cordially invoke Almighty God's abundant blessings of joy and peace."