Vatican City, 28 June 2012 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, in a traditional meeting for the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul Apostles, Benedict XVI received a delegation sent by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I. The Church of Rome and the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople traditionally exchange visits for the feasts of their respective patrons.
The delegation, which delivered a message to the Holy Father on behalf of the Patriarch, was made up of His Eminence Emmanuel (Adenakis), metropolitan of France and director of the office of the Orthodox Church to the European Union; His Grace Ilias Katre, bishop of Philomelion, U.S.A., and Rev. Paisios Kokkinakis of the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
Benedict XVI told the group that the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul "gives us an opportunity to thank the Lord for the extraordinary works He has achieved and continues to achieve through the Apostles in the life of the Church. Their preaching, sealed by the witness of martyrdom, is the solid and durable base upon which the Church rests. By remaining faithful to the deposit of faith they have handed down to us, we discover our own shared roots".
"In our meeting - as we entrust to the intercession of the glorious Apostles and Martyrs Peter and Paul our prayer that the Lord ... may soon grant us that blessed day in which we can share the Eucharistic bread - we thank God for the journey of peace and reconciliation He has caused us to travel together. This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of Vatican Council II. ... It was during that Council - attended, as you well know, by certain representatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchate as fraternal delegates - that a new and important phase in relations between our Churches began. Let us praise the Lord above all for the rediscovery of the profound brotherhood which unites us, and for the distance covered over these years by the Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches, also in the hope that it will continue to progress in the current phase".
"As we remember the anniversary of Vatican Council II, I think it right to recall the person and works of the unforgettable Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras who, together with Blessed John XXIII and Servant of God Paul VI, moved by that passion for Church unity which arises from faith in Christ the Lord, promoted important initiatives which paved the way to renewed relations between the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Catholic Church. I am profoundly glad that His Holiness Bartholomew I, with renewed faithfulness and fruitful creativity, is continuing along the path laid down by his predecessors Athenagoras and Demetrios, and is known throughout the world for his openness to dialogue among Christians and his commitment to announcing the Gospel in the modern world", the Holy Father concluded.