In a message sent to the Orthodox leaders of Constantinople on the Feast of St. Andrew, Pope John Paul II expressed his hope that Jesus will restore the unity between Catholics and Orthodox.

As is customary, a delegation from the Holy See, led by Cardinal Walter Kasper, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, traveled to Istanbul (Turkey) for the liturgical celebrations of the feast of St. Andrew, patron of the Orthodox patriarchate, which is commemorated both in the East and West. 

Every year the patriarchate sends a delegation to Rome on June 29, the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul.

On Sunday morning, the Vatican delegation attended a solemn liturgy presided by His Holiness Bartholomew I in the Church of St. George in Fanar.  At the end of the ceremony, Cardinal Kasper delivered a special message to the ecumenical patriarch from John Paul II. 

In his message, written in French, John Paul II says that during the celebration of the 25th anniversary of his pontificate on October 16, he was thinking about “the many events that have contributed to my commitment so that the one Church of Christ may breath more deeply with its two lungs.”

The Holy Father recalls that his predecessor Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Atenagoras “began the dialogue of charity which led to the dialogue of truth.”  Over the years, he continues, “our relations have demonstrated the spirit of family that unites us and that, despite difficulties, allows us to progress toward the goal that Christ gave us and that our predecessors committed themselves vigorously to reach.”

 “We can say,” he continues, “that we live under the sign of the Cross and in hope for peace.  We are full of hope that the Lord will carry out the work of re-establishing the unity that He inspired.” 

“For its part,” the Pope adds, “the Church of Rome will maintain the irreversible decision of Vatican Council II, which embraced this cause and duty.  We are certain that the Lord will give us one day, when He wants, the joy of being in full communion and in the visible unity that He wants for His holy Church.”