The Common Hope of Christian Unity


29 June 08 - Pope Benedict XVI and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I renewed their appeals for Christian unity today during a Mass in St. Peter's Basilica.

40 Archbishops also received the pallium from the Holy Father during the ceremony.

In a papal Mass which saw a Greek Orthodox Deacon read the gospel and the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople give a reflection, Pope Benedict said Catholics and Orthodox have a common hope of seeing the day of unity draw near.
Before celebrating the Mass of the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Pope Benedict welcomed Patriarch Bartholomew I on the front steps of St. Peter's Basilica. After a brief meeting, the two men walked side by side down the central aisle of the Church.

After listening the Gospel read in latin by a Catholic Deacon, and then read in Greek by an Orthodox deacon, the Pope and the Patriach blessed the congregation together, each holding the other's book of gospels.
In his reflections, Patriarch Bartholomew said there are still numerous difficulties in healing the 1000 rift between Catholic and Orthodox, but said both sides are working to overcome the obstacles.

In his homily, Pope Benedict said Christian unity is even more important in a world that is increasingly connected by technical means, but is unable to resolve its conflicts.
He said that In the midst of this new external unity, based on material goods, we have an even greater need for interior unity, which comes from the peace of God.

The last part of the homily was dedicated to the 40 archbishops who received the pallium from him today, a collar made of lamb's wool, embroidered with five crosses (a symbol of the five wounds of Christ).

He told the archbishops that the Pallium on the shoulders reminds us of the Shepherd who takes upon his shoulders the lost sheep, which on its own was not able to find the way home, and brings it back to the fold.

Before concluding the ceremony, Pope Benedict recited the angelus in the Basilica, and spoke of the opening the Pauline year which was inaugurated the evening before at Vespers at the tome of St. Paul, in the Basilica of St. Paul's Outside the Walls.

During the ceremony, in which Patriarch Bartholomew I and other ecumenical representatives participated, Pope Benedict said Saint Paul is not simply a figure of the past, who we remember with veneration. He is also a teacher, apostle and herald of Jesus Christ for us today.
He said hat is why he wanted to convoke the Pauline Year: to listen to Saint Paul and to learn from him today, as our teacher, 'the faith and the truth' in which are rooted the reasons for the unity of the disciples of Christ.

The Pauline year will involve educational and devotional activities around the world, but especially in Rome, where Paul was martyred and still buried, and in the various countries and localities Paul visited on his many pastoral journeys. The year concludes on June 29, 2009.