DAILY CATHOLIC FRI-SAT-SUN December 10-12, 1999 vol. 10, no. 235
NEWS & VIEWS
JOHN PAUL II ON SUREST PATH TO ESTABLISH PEACE IN MIDDLE EAST AND ON PROGRESS OF DIALOGUE WITH LUTHERANS
John Paul II Says Key Is International Solidarity and Believes Soul of Ecumenism Is Prayer and Its Motor -- Martyrdom
VATICAN CITY, DEC 9 (ZENIT).- When he received some 80 representatives of the Pontifical Mission for Palestine this morning, John Paul II stressed the need to create a new culture of international solidarity and cooperation. The occasion was the 50th anniversary of this Mission, created by Pius XII after the Second World War, to alleviate the sufferings of the people's of the Middle East.
Prior to the papal audience, Cardinal Achille Silvestrini, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Oriental Churches, presided over a thanksgiving Mass in St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican.
John Paul II said that it was Pope Eugenio Pacelli (Pius XII) himself who in 1949 requested the creation of an agency that would offer assistance to needy peoples of the Holy Land: children, families, the sick, wounded, and exiled, and the elderly. Today, 50 years later, the Mission has extended its activity to Cyprus, Iraq, and Syria.
During the meeting, John Paul II expressed his great appreciation for Cardinal John O'Connor, Archbishop of New York, where this organism has its headquarters, to Monsignor Robert Stern, current president, and to the U.S. Catholic community, which supports this initiative with much generosity.
During times of great tension lived in the Middle East over these last 50 years, the Pontifical Mission multiplied its efforts to help local populations to build their own life with various projects for development, urgent sanitary services, crafts, and agricultural and industrial activity.
The Pope referred to the Bull convoking the Great Jubilee, stating that "in this way, the Pontifical Mission is an eloquent expression of that 'new culture of international solidarity and cooperation,' which is so necessary in the modern world, and which must be a hallmark of the new millennium. This shared responsibility for the well-being of all, especially on the part of the wealthier nations and of the private sector, is part of the deeper meaning of the Great Jubilee upon which we are about to embark."
The Holy Father concluded by saying, "This is the surest path for establishing a true and lasting peace in the lives of the peoples of the Middle East."
Thursday morning, John Paul II spoke about the significant progress made in the dialogue between Catholics and Lutherans when he received Dr. Christian Krause, president of the World Lutheran Federation, and several members of that Federation.
Over the last few years, this dialogue has been strengthened by collaborative initiatives in the civil and charitable fields. However, the cornerstone is, without a doubt, the Joint Declaration on Justification, signed by Catholics and Lutherans On October 31 in Augsburg.
According to the Holy Father, this document is the solid foundation for future important steps toward full unity between the two Churches, especially when it comes to overcoming the obstacles that relate to joint participation at the Eucharistic table.
In thanking the Lutheran Federation for the promise to join the Jubilee celebrations in spirit, John Paul II explained to president Krause that in that year there will be two especially important moments for the joint commitment of the two Churches: Church Unity Week, and the commemoration of 20th century martyrs. The Pontiff said: "Martyrdom has profound ecumenical significance. When Christ is witnessed at the price of one's own life, there can be no division."
After recalling that the world anxiously awaits the unity of Christians,
the Holy Father referred to the intense experience of the ecumenical
celebration last October 28, which was highly spiritual, and which
proves once again that the soul of ecumenism is prayer.
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