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June 23-27, 2001    
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Pope Thanks Mary for Trip to Ukraine

VATICAN CITY, JUN 29, 2001 (VIS) - At midday today, Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles, patron saints of Rome, John Paul II appeared at the window of his private study, which overlooks St. Peter's Square, in order to pray the angelus with faithful gathered below.

04.07.2001 (19:38) // Religious Information Service of Ukraine
Source: Vatican Information Service

   The Pope gave thanks to the Virgin Mary for the "great gift" of his apostolic trip to Ukraine. "For me," he said, "visiting Ukraine a historical bridge between East and West - was a goal that I had long awaited and prepared for in prayer. Now, achieving that goal constitutes further confirmation of a providential design: that the Church in Europe may recover and breathe with her two lungs in order for the entire continent to experience renewed evangelization."

  At 12:45 p.m., as is traditional on this feast day, the Pope received in audience a delegation from the ecumenical patriarchate of Constantinople.

  The delegation was led by His Excellency Jeremias, metropolitan of France and exarch of Spain, and included His Excellency Dimitrios, bishop of Xanthos and auxiliary to the Greek-Orthodox archbishop of America, and Deacon Elpidophoros, under-secretary of the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

   In his talk to them in French, the Holy Father stressed that "the impossibility of our sharing together in Christ's single sacrifice is, for us, a cause of suffering, as well as a stimulus to seek ways to resolve the divergences that still exist between Orthodox and Catholics."

   The Pope indicated that the work of the mixed commission of Catholic and Orthodox "must be completed according to the established program." He affirmed that "promoting the dialogue of charity - which has enabled the creation of the necessary conditions for opening theological dialogue - is again revealed as being the most direct means for us to meet once more in truth and reciprocal affection in Christ."

   "The feast of Sts. Peter and Paul," he concluded, "has again offered us the occasion to pray together to the holy Apostles for their intercession on behalf of all Christ's disciples, in order that they 'all be one' and that together they be 'fishers of men' among the young generations of this new millennium.

  "Peter's martyrdom," he added, "marked Rome's vocation as the seat of his successors in the primacy that Christ conferred upon him in the service of the Church: a service to faith, a service to unity, a service to the mission."

  The Pope highlighted the fact that "this yearning for total Faithfulness to the Lord is urgent. The desire for full unity among all believers is becoming ever more intense. I am aware that 'after centuries of bitter controversies, the other Churches and ecclesial communities are more and more taking a fresh look at this ministry of unity.' This is particularly true of the Orthodox Churches, as I too had the opportunity to note over the last few days in the course of my visit to Ukraine. How I wish to hasten the time of reconciliation and reciprocal communion!"

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