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Benedict XVI's Address at Ecumenical Meeting

5/26/2006 - 5:30 AM PST

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Calls Attention to 2 Questions: Service and Marriage

WARSAW, Poland, MAY 26, 2006 (Zenit) - Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered Thursday evening at a meeting with representatives of seven churches of the Polish Ecumenical Council and representatives of other religions. The meeting was in the Lutheran church of the Most Holy Trinity in Warsaw.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

"Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth" (Revelation 1:4-5). In these words with which St. John greets the seven Churches of Asia in the Book of the Apocalypse, I wish to address my own warm greetings to all who are present here, especially to the representatives of the churches and ecclesial communities affiliated to the Polish Council for Ecumenism.

I thank Archbishop Jeremiasz of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church for his greetings and his words of spiritual union addressed to me just now. And I greet Archbishop Alfons Nossol, president of the Ecumenical Office of the Polish bishops' conference.

What unites us here today is our desire to meet one another, and to give glory and honor to our Lord Jesus Christ in our common prayer: "to him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father" (Revelation 1:5-6). We are grateful to our Lord, because he gathers us together, he grants us his Spirit and he enables us -- over and above what still separates us -- to cry out "Abba, Father."

We are convinced that it is he himself who intercedes unceasingly in our favor, pleading for us: "May they become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me" (John 17:23). Together with you I give thanks for the gift of this encounter of common prayer. I see it as a stage in the implementation of the firm purpose that I made at the beginning of my pontificate, to consider a priority in my ministry the restoration of full visible unity among Christians.

My beloved predecessor, the Servant of God John Paul II, stated clearly when he visited this Church of the Most Holy Trinity in 1991: "However much we dedicate ourselves to work for unity, it always remains a gift of the Holy Spirit. We will be available to receive this gift to the extent that we open our minds and hearts to him through the Christian life and above all through prayer."

In fact, it is impossible for us to "make" unity through our own powers alone. As I recalled during last year's ecumenical encounter in Cologne: "We can only obtain unity as a gift of the Holy Spirit." For this reason, our ecumenical aspirations must be steeped in prayer, in mutual forgiveness and in the holiness of life of each of us. I express my satisfaction at the fact that here in Poland, the Polish Council for Ecumenism and the Roman Catholic Church have launched numerous initiatives in this area.

"Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him" (Revelation 1:7). The words of the Apocalypse remind us that we are all on a journey toward the definitive encounter with Christ, when he will reveal before our eyes the meaning of human history, whose center is the cross of his saving sacrifice. As a community of disciples, we are directed toward that encounter, filled with hope and trust that it will be for us the day of salvation, the day when all our longings are fulfilled, thanks to our readiness to let ourselves be guided by the mutual charity which his Spirit calls forth within us.

Let us build this trust not on our own merits, but on the prayer with which Christ reveals the meaning of his coming on earth and of his redeeming death: "Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to behold my glory which you have given me in your love for me before the foundation of the world" (John 17:24). On our journey toward the encounter with Christ who "is coming with the clouds," through our lives we announce his death, we proclaim his resurrection, as we wait for him to come again.

We feel the weight of the responsibility which all this entails; the message of Christ, in fact, must reach everyone on earth, thanks to the commitment of those who believe in him and who are called to bear witness that he is truly sent by the Father (cf. John 17:23). As we proclaim the Gospel, then, we must be moved by the aspiration to cultivate mutual relations of sincere charity, in such a way that, in the light of these, all may know that the Father sent the Son and that he loves the Church and each one of us just as he loved the Son (cf. John 17:23). The task of Christ's disciples, the task of each of us, is ...

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