DAILY CATHOLIC     THURSDAY     September 3, 1998     vol. 9, no. 173

NEWS & VIEWS
from a CATHOLIC perspective

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POPE WELCOMES INVITATION TO VISIT ROMANIA AND URGES ECUMENICAL WORK FOR PEACE

          BUCHAREST (CWNews.com) - In a message to an international meeting of religious leaders on Tuesday, Pope John Paul II said he welcomes an opportunity to visit Romania and called for more cooperation between Catholics and Orthodox.

          The message was addressed to the 12th International Meeting of Peoples and Religions, sponsored by the Romanian presidency, the Romanian Orthodox Church, and the lay Catholic group Sant'Egidio Community. The Holy Father described Romania as a bridge between East and West that is "an original synthesis of European cultures and traditions." He also urged Romanian Catholics to "persevere courageously in giving witness to Christ and to His Gospel." He also praised the Orthodox Church for supporting the ecumenical meeting and working to end disunity.

          Catholics and Romanian Orthodox in the former Communist country have clashed in recent years over the status of property stripped from Catholics and handed over to the Orthodox Church during Communist rule. Earlier in the day, Patriarch Teoctist abandoned the Orthodox hierarchy's recent reluctance to welcome a papal visit to strong support for the proposed journey with a caution that the visit must be "well prepared."

          As the international ecumenical gathering closed last night in Bucharest, Pope John Paul II also sent the participants a message emphasizing the threats to world peace, and saying that religion should be "a powerful store of energy" for the work of building world peace.

          In a letter to Cardinal Edward Cassidy, who chaired the interfaith gathering, the Holy Father mentioned his concern over conflicts in Africa, the Middle East, and Kosovo in particular. "Faced with the multiplication of instances of warfare," the Pope wrote, "we must develop new energy for peace." He added that religions embody "the universal aspiration for understanding which is born out of sincere love for God."

          The Bucharest conference, the 12th annual meeting of its kind, was organized by the St. Egidio community. This year marked the first time that the conference was held in a country which is predominantly Orthodox. In his message, the Pope saluted the Orthodox Patriarch Teoctist, and said that Romania has a special calling to serve as "a bridge between East and West, to offer a new synthesis of European cultures and traditions."


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September 3, 1998       volume 9, no. 173
NEWS & VIEWS

DAILY CATHOLIC

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