January 18, 2000
volume 11, no. 12
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Receives Finnish Ecumenical Delegation

    VATICAN CITY, Jan 17 (ZENIT).- Monday morning, on the eve of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which the Pope inaugurates Tuesday morning with the opening of the Holy Door of the Roman Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, John Paul II received an ecumenical delegation of Christian Churches of Finland in the Vatican.

    When greeting the delegation, the Pope said it was a "particularly significant" visit, as it is taking place precisely in the year of the Great Jubilee in which Christians want to celebrate the second millennium of the Savior's birth more united.

    "Your visit is based on the promising initiatives that have brought Orthodox, Lutheran and Catholic Christians closer in recent times. It encourages me to pursue the path towards unity which the Successor of the Apostle Peter must be the first to take," stated the Holy Father.

    The Pontiff then referred to what will be the second largest ecumenical meeting in history, after the opening of Ecumenical Vatican Council II, that is, tomorrow's opening of the Holy Door of St. Paul's Basilica. On this occasion the Pope will push open the Door with the help of two representatives from other Christian Churches. "As we pass through the Holy Door, may we take another step closer to the unity in Christ which Peter and Paul proclaimed, and which the Lord himself so clearly wills," the Pope said.

    Finally, the Holy Father expressed his gratitude to the members of the Finnish Christian delegation for their support of the dialogue among Christians.

    Lutheran Bishop Ikka Kantola of Turku, one of the Pope's guests, commented after the meeting, "We need patience, and we must continue to carry forward an increasingly profound dialogue; we need to get to know each another better and better. We Christians must not forget that we have a mission to fulfill in the world; only if we are united will we be able to fulfill it in a credible and effective way." ZE00011703


January 18, 2000
volume 11, no. 12

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