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Sister Churches

55 In its historical survey the Council Decree UnitatisRedintegratio has in mind the unity which, in spite of everything, wasexperienced in the first millennium and in a certain sense now serves as a kindof model. "This most sacred Synod gladly reminds all ... that in the Eastthere flourish many particular or local Churches; among them the PatriarchalChurches hold first place; and of these, many glory in taking their origin fromthe Apostles themselves".87 The Church's journey began inJerusalem on the day of Pentecost and its original expansion in the oikoumeneof that time was centred around Peter and the Eleven (cf. Acts Ac 2,14).The structures of the Church in the East and in the West evolved in referenceto that Apostolic heritage. Her unity during the first millennium wasmaintained within those same structures through the Bishops, Successors of theApostles, in communion with the Bishop of Rome. If today at the end of thesecond millennium we are seeking to restore full communion, it is to thatunity, thus structured, which we must look.

The Decree on Ecumenism highlights a further distinctive aspect, thanks towhich all the particular Churches remained in unity: "an eager desire toperpetuate in a communion of faith and charity those family ties which ought tothrive between local Churches, as between sisters".88

56 Following the Second Vatican Council, and in the lightof earlier tradition, it has again become usual to refer to the particular orlocal Churches gathered around their Bishop as "Sister Churches". Inaddition, the lifting of the mutual excommunications, by eliminating a painfulcanonical and psychological obstacle, was a very significant step on the waytowards full communion.

The structures of unity which existed before the separation are a heritageof experience that guides our common path towards the re-establishment of fullcommunion. Obviously, during the second millennium the Lord has not ceased tobestow on his Church abundant fruits of grace and growth. Unfortunately,however, the gradual and mutual estrangement between the Churches of the Westand the East deprived them of the benefits of mutual exchanges and cooperation.With the grace of God a great effort must be made to re-establish fullcommunion among them, the source of such good for the Church of Christ. Thiseffort calls for all our good will, humble prayer and a steadfast cooperationwhich never yields to discouragement. Saint Paul urges us: "Bear oneanother's burdens" (
Ga 6,2). How appropriate and relevant for usis the Apostle's exhortation! The traditional designation of "Sister Churches"should ever accompany us along this path.

57 In accordance with the hope expressed by Pope Paul VI,our declared purpose is to re-establish together full unity in legitimatediversity: "God has granted us to receive in faith what the Apostles saw,understood, and proclaimed to us. By Baptism 'we are one in Christ Jesus'(Ga 3,28). In virtue of the apostolic succession, we are united moreclosely by the priesthood and the Eucharist. By participating in the gifts of Godto his Church we are brought into communion with the Father through the Son inthe Holy Spirit ... In each local Church this mystery of divine love isenacted, and surely this is the ground of the traditional and very beautifulexpression 'Sister Churches', which local Churches were fond of applying to oneanother (cf. Decree, Unitatis Redintegratio UR 14). For centuries we livedthis life of 'Sister Churches', and together held Ecumenical Councils whichguarded the deposit of faith against all corruption. And now, after a longperiod of division and mutual misunderstanding, the Lord is enabling us todiscover ourselves as 'Sister Churches' once more, in spite of the obstacleswhich were once raised between us".89 If today, on the threshold ofthe third millennium, we are seeking the re-establishment of full communion, itis for the accomplishment of this reality that we must work and it is to thisreality that we must refer.

Contact with this glorious tradition is most fruitful for the Church. As theCouncil points out: "From their very origins the Churches of the East havehad a treasury from which the Church of the West has amply drawn for itsliturgy, spiritual tradition and jurisprudence".90

Part of this "treasury" are also "the riches of thosespiritual traditions to which monasticism gives special expression. From theglorious days of the Holy Fathers, there flourished in the East that monasticspirituality which later flowed over into the Western world".91 AsI have had the occasion to emphasize in my recent Apostolic Letter OrientaleLumen, the Churches of the East have lived with great generosity thecommitment shown by monastic life, "starting with evangelization, thehighest service that the Christian can offer his brother, followed by manyother forms of spiritual and material service. Indeed it can be said thatmonasticism in antiquitymand at various times in subsequent ages toomhas beenthe privileged means for the evangelization of peoples".92

The Council does not limit itself to emphasizing the elements of similaritybetween the Churches in the East and in the West. In accord with historicaltruth, it does not hesitate to say: "It is hardly surprising if sometimesone tradition has come nearer than the other to an apt appreciation of certainaspects of the revealed mystery or has expressed them in a clearer manner. As aresult, these various theological formulations are often to be considered ascomplementary rather than conflicting".93 Communion is made fruitfulby the exchange of gifts between the Churches insofar as they complement eachother.

58 From the reaffirmation of an already existingcommunion of faith, the Second Vatican Council drew pastoral consequences whichare useful for the everyday life of the faithful and for the promotion of thespirit of unity. By reason of the very close sacramental bonds between theCatholic Church and the Orthodox Churches, the Decree on Eastern CatholicChurches Orientalium Ecclesiarum has stated: "Pastoral experienceclearly shows that with respect to our Eastern brethren there should and can betaken into consideration various circumstances affecting individuals, whereinthe unity of the Church is not jeopardized nor are intolerable risks involved,but in which salvation itself and the spiritual profit of souls are urgently atissue. Hence, in view of special circumstances of time, place and personage,the Catholic Church has often adopted and now adopts a milder policy, offeringto all the means of salvation and an example of charity among Christiansthrough participation in the Sacraments and in other sacred functions andobjects".94

In the light of experience gained in the years following the Council, thistheological and pastoral orientation has been incorporated into the two Codesof Canon Law.95 It has been explicitly treated from the pastoralstandpoint in the Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms onEcumenism.96

In so important and sensitive a matter, it is necessary for Pastors toinstruct the faithful with care, making them clearly aware of the specificreasons both for this sharing in liturgical worship and for the variousregulations which govern it.

There must never be a loss of appreciation for the ecclesiologicalimplication of sharing in the sacraments, especially in the Holy Eucharist.

Progress in dialogue

59 Since its establishment in 1979, the JointInternational Commission for the Theological Dialogue between the CatholicChurch and the Orthodox Church has worked steadily, directing its study toareas decided upon by mutual agreement, with the purpose of re-establishingfull communion between the two Churches. This communion which is founded on theunity of faith, following in the footsteps of the experience and tradition ofthe ancient Church, will find its fulfilment in the common celebration of theHoly Eucharist. In a positive spirit, and on the basis of what we have incommon, the Joint Commission has been able to make substantial progress and, asI was able to declare in union with my Venerable Brother, His HolinessDimitrios I, the Ecumenical Patriarch, it has concluded "that the CatholicChurch and the Orthodox Church can already profess together that common faithin the mystery of the Church and the bond between faith andsacraments".97 The Commission was then able to acknowledge that"in our Churches apostolic succession is fundamental for thesanctification and the unity of the people of God".98 These areimportant points of reference for the continuation of the dialogue. Moreover,these joint affirmations represent the basis for Catholics and Orthodox to beable from now on to bear a faithful and united common witness in our time, thatthe name of the Lord may be proclaimed and glorified.

60 More recently, the Joint International Commission tooka significant step forward with regard to the very sensitive question of themethod to be followed in re-establishing full communion between the CatholicChurch and the Orthodox Church, an issue which has frequently embitteredrelations between Catholics and Orthodox. The Commission has laid the doctrinalfoundations for a positive solution to this problem on the basis of thedoctrine of Sister Churches. Here too it has become evident that the method tobe followed towards full communion is the dialogue of truth, fostered andsustained by the dialogue of love. A recognition of the right of the EasternCatholic Churches to have their own organizational structures and to carry outtheir own apostolate, as well as the actual involvement of these Churches inthe dialogue of charity and in theological dialogue, will not only promote atrue and fraternal mutual esteem between Orthodox and Catholics living in thesame territory, but will also foster their joint commitment to work forunity.99 A step forward has been taken. The commitment must continue.Already there are signs of a lessening of tensions, which is making the questfor unity more fruitful.

With regard to the Eastern Catholic Churches in communion with the CatholicChurch, the Council expressed its esteem in these terms: "While thankingGod that many Eastern sons of the Catholic Church ... are already living in fullcommunion with their brethren who follow the tradition of the West, this sacredSynod declares that this entire heritage of spirituality and liturgy, ofdiscipline and theology, in their various traditions, belongs to the fullcatholic and apostolic character of the Church".100 Certainly theEastern Catholic Churches, in the spirit of the Decree on Ecumenism, will playa constructive role in the dialogue of love and in the theological dialogue atboth the local and international levels, and thus contribute to mutualunderstanding and the continuing pursuit of full unity.101

61 In view of all this, the Catholic Church desiresnothing less than full communion between East and West. She finds inspirationfor this in the experience of the first millennium. In that period, indeed,"the development of different experiences of ecclesial life did notprevent Christians, through mutual relations, from continuing to feel certainthat they were at home in any Church, because praise of the one Father, throughChrist in the Holy Spirit, rose from them all, in a marvellous variety oflanguages and melodies; all were gathered together to celebrate the Eucharist,the heart and model for the community regarding not only spirituality and themoral life, but also the

Church's very structure, in the variety of ministries and services under theleadership of the Bishop, successor of the Apostles. The first Councils are aneloquent witness to this enduring unity in diversity".102 How canunity be restored after almost a thousand years? This is the great task whichthe Catholic Church must accomplish, a task equally incumbent on the OrthodoxChurch. Thus can be understood the continuing relevance of dialogue, guided bythe light and strength of the Holy Spirit.

Relations with the Ancient Churches of the East

62 In the period following the Second Vatican Council,the Catholic Church has also, in different ways and with greater or lesser rapidity,restored fraternal relations with the Ancient Churches of the East whichrejected the dogmatic formulations of the Councils of Ephesus and Chalcedon.All these Churches sent official observers to the Second Vatican Council; theirPatriarchs have honoured us by their visits, and the Bishop of Rome has beenable to converse with them as with brothers who, after a long time, joyfullymeet again.

The return of fraternal relations with the Ancient Churches of the Eastwitnesses to the Christian faith in situations which are often hostile andtragic. This is a concrete sign of how we are united in Christ in spite ofhistorical, political, social and cultural barriers. And precisely in relationto Christology, we have been able to join the Patriarchs of some of theseChurches in declaring our common faith in Jesus Christ, true God and true man.Pope Paul VI of venerable memory signed declarations to this effect with HisHoliness Shenouda III, the Coptic Orthodox Pope and Patriarch,103 andwith His Beatitude Jacoub III, the Syrian Orthodox Patriarch ofAntioch.104 I myself have been able to confirm this Christologicalagreement and draw on it for the development of dialogue with PopeShenouda,105 and for pastoral cooperation with the Syrian Patriarch ofAntioch Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas.106

When the Venerable Patriarch of the Ethiopian Church, Abuna Paulos, paid mea visit in Rome on 11 June 1993, together we emphasized the deep communionexisting between our two Churches: "We share the faith handed down fromthe Apostles, as also the same sacraments and the same ministry, rooted in theapostolic succession ... Today, moreover, we can affirm that we have the onefaith in Christ, even though for a long time this was a source of divisionbetween us".107

More recently, the Lord has granted me the great joy of signing a commonChristological declaration with the Assyrian Patriarch of the East, HisHoliness Mar Dinkha IV, who for this purpose chose to visit me in Rome in November1994. Taking into account the different theological formulations, we were ableto profess together the true faith in Christ.108 I wish to express myjoy at all this in the words of the Blessed Virgin: "My soul proclaims thegreatness of the Lord" (
Lc 1,46).

63 Ecumenical contacts have thus made possible essentialclarifications with regard to the traditional controversies concerningChristology, so much so that we have been able to profess together the faithwhich we have in common. Once again it must be said that this importantachievement is truly a fruit of theological investigation and fraternaldialogue. And not only this. It is an encouragement for us: for it shows usthat the path followed is the right one and that we can reasonably hope todiscover together the solution to other disputed questions.

Dialogue with other Churches and Ecclesial Communities in the West

64 In its great plan for the re-establishment of unityamong all Christians, the Decree on Ecumenism also speaks of relations with theChurches and Ecclesial Communities of the West. Wishing to create a climate ofChristian fraternity and dialogue, the Council situates its guidelines in thecontext of two general considerations: one of an historical and psychologicalnature, and the other theological and doctrinal. On the one hand, this Decreeaffirms: "The Churches and Ecclesial Communities which were separated fromthe Apostolic See of Rome during the very serious crisis that began in the Westat the end of the Middle Ages, or during later times, are bound to the CatholicChurch by a special affinity and close relationship in view of the long span ofearlier centuries when the Christian people lived in ecclesiastical communion".109On the other hand, with equal realism the same Document states: "At thesame time one should recognize that between these Churches and Communities onthe one hand, and the Catholic Church on the other, there are very weighty differencesnot only of a historical, sociological, psychological and cultural nature, butespecially in the interpretation of revealed truth".110

65 Common roots and similar, if distinct, considerationshave guided the development in the West of the Catholic Church and of theChurches and Communities which have their origins in the Reformation.Consequently these share the fact that they are "Western" incharacter. Their "diversities", although significant as has been pointedout, do not therefore preclude mutual interaction and complementarity.

The ecumenical movement really began within the Churches and EcclesialCommunities of the Reform. At about the same time, in January, 1920, theEcumenical Patriarchate expressed the hope that some kind of cooperation amongthe Christian Communions could be organized. This fact shows that the weight ofcultural background is not the decisive factor. What is essential is thequestion of faith. The prayer of Christ, our one Lord, Redeemer and Master, speaksto everyone in the same way, both in the East and in the West. That prayerbecomes an imperative to leave behind our divisions in order to seek andre-establish unity, as a result also of the bitter experiences of divisionitself.

66 The Second Vatican Council did not attempt to give a"description" of post-Reformation Christianity, since "inorigin, teaching and spiritual practice, these Churches and EcclesialCommunities differ not only from us but also among themselves to a considerabledegree".111 Furthermore, the Decree observes that the ecumenicalmovement and the desire for peace with the Catholic Church have not yet takenroot everywhere.112 These circumstances notwithstanding, the Councilcalls for dialogue.

The Council Decree then seeks to "propose ... some considerations whichcan and ought to serve as a basis and motivation for suchdialogue".113

"Our thoughts are concerned ... with those Christians who openlyconfess Jesus Christ as God and Lord and as the sole Mediator between God andman unto the glory of the one God, Father, Son and HolySpirit".114

These brothers and sisters promote love and veneration for the SacredScriptures: "Calling upon the Holy Spirit, they seek in these Sacred ScripturesGod as he speaks to them in Christ, the One whom the prophets foretold, God'sWord made flesh for us. In the Scriptures they contemplate the life of Christ,as well as the teachings and the actions of the Divine Master on behalf of thesalvation of all, in particular the mysteries of his Death and Resurrection ...They affirm the divine authority of the Sacred Books".115

At the same time, however, they "think differently from us ... aboutthe relationship between the Scriptures and the Church. In the Church,according to Catholic belief, an authentic teaching office plays a special rolein the explanation and proclamation of the written word ofGod".116 Even so, "in 1 dialogue itself, the sacredutterances are precious instruments in the mighty hand of God for attainingthat unity which the Saviour holds out to all".117

Furthermore, the Sacrament of Baptism, which we have in common, represents"a sacramental bond of unity linking all who have been reborn by means ofit".118 The theological, pastoral and ecumenical implications ofour common Baptism are many and important. Although this sacrament of itself is"only a beginning, a point of departure", it is "orientedtowards a complete profession of faith, a complete incorporation into thesystem of salvation such as Christ himself willed it to be, and finally,towards a complete participation in Eucharistic communion".119

67 Doctrinal and historical disagreements at the time ofthe Reformation emerged with regard to the Church, the sacraments and theordained ministry. The Council therefore calls for "dialogue to beundertaken concerning the true meaning of the Lord's Supper, the othersacraments and the Church's worship and ministry".120

The Decree Unitatis Redintegratio, pointing out that thepost-Reformation Communities lack that "fullness of unity with us whichshould flow from Baptism", observes that "especially because of thelack of the Sacrament of Orders they have not preserved the genuine and totalreality of the Eucharistic mystery", even though "when theycommemorate the Lord's Death and Resurrection in the Holy Supper, they professthat it signifies life in communion with Christ and they await his coming inglory".121

68 The Decree does not overlook the spiritual life andits moral consequences: "The Christian way of life of these brethren isnourished by faith in Christ. It is strengthened by the grace of Baptism andthe hearing of God's Word. This way of life expresses itself in private prayer,in meditation on the Bible, in Christian family life, and in services ofworship offered by Communities assembled to praise God. Furthermore, theirworship sometimes displays notable features of the ancient, commonliturgy".122

The Council document moreover does not limit itself to these spiritual,moral and cultural aspects but extends its appreciation to the lively sense ofjustice and to the sincere charity towards others which are present among thesebrothers and sisters. Nor does it overlook their efforts to make socialconditions more humane and to promote peace. All this is the result of asincere desire to be faithful to the Word of Christ as the source of Christianlife.

The text thus raises a series of questions which, in the area of ethics andmorality, is becoming ever more urgent in our time: "There are manyChristians who do not always understand the Gospel in the same way asCatholics".123 In this vast area there is much room for dialogueconcerning the moral principles of the Gospel and their implications.

69 The hopes and invitation expressed by the SecondVatican Council have been acted upon, and bilateral theological dialogue withthe various worldwide Churches and Christian Communities in the West has beenprogressively set in motion.

Moreover, with regard to multilateral dialogue, as early as 1964 the processof setting up a "Joint Working Group" with the World Council ofChurches was begun, and since 1968 Catholic theologians have been admitted asfull members of the theological Department of the Council, the Commission onFaith and Order.

This dialogue has been and continues to be fruitful and full of promise. Thetopics suggested by the Council Decree have already been addressed, or will bein the near future. The reflections of the various bilateral dialogues,conducted with a dedication which deserves the praise of all those committed toecumenism, have concentrated on many disputed questions such as Baptism, theEucharist, the ordained ministry, the sacramentality and authority of theChurch and apostolic succession. As a result, unexpected possibilities forresolving these questions have come to light, while at the same time there hasbeen a realization that certain questions need to be studied more deeply.

70 This difficult and delicate research, which involvesquestions of faith and respect for one's own conscience as well as for theconsciences of others, has been accompanied and sustained by the prayer of theCatholic Church and of the other Churches and Ecclesial Communities. Prayer forunity, already so deeply rooted in and spread throughout the body of theChurch, shows that Christians do indeed see the importance of ecumenism. Preciselybecause the search for full unity requires believers to question one another inrelation to their faith in the one Lord, prayer is the source of enlightenmentconcerning the truth which has to be accepted in its entirety.

Moreover, through prayer the quest for unity, far from being limited to agroup of specialists, comes to be shared by all the baptized. Everyone,regardless of their role in the Church or level of education, can make avaluable contribution, in a hidden and profound way.

Ecclesial relations

71 We must give thanks to Divine Providence also for allthe events which attest to progress on the path to unity. Besides theological dialogue,mention should be made of other forms of encounter, common prayer and practicalcooperation. Pope Paul VI strongly encouraged this process by his visit to theheadquarters of the World Council of Churches in Geneva on 10 June 1969, and byhis many meetings with representatives of various Churches and EcclesialCommunities. Such contacts greatly help to improve mutual knowledge and toincrease Christian fraternity.

Pope John Paul I, during his very brief Pontificate, expressed the desire tocontinue on this path.124 The Lord has enabled me to carry on thiswork. In addition to important ecumenical meetings held in Rome, a significantpart of my Pastoral Visits is regularly devoted to fostering Christian unity.Some of my journeys have a precise ecumenical "priority", especiallyin countries where the Catholic communities constitute a minority with respectto the post-Reformation communities or where the latter represent aconsiderable portion of the believers in Christ in a given society.

72 This is true above all for the European countries, inwhich these divisions first appeared, and for North America. In this regard,without wishing to minimize the other visits, I would especially mention thosewithin Europe which took me twice to Germany, in November 1980 and in April-May1987; to the United Kingdom (England, Scotland and Wales) in May-June 1982; toSwitzerland in June 1984; and to the Scandinavian and Nordic countries(Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Iceland) in June 1989. In an atmosphereof joy, mutual respect, Christian solidarity and prayer I met so very manybrothers and sisters, all making a committed effort to be faithful to theGospel. Seeing all this has been for me a great source of encouragement. Weexperienced the Lord's presence among us.

In this respect I would like to mention one demonstration dictated byfraternal charity and marked by deep clarity of faith which made a profoundimpression on me. I am speaking of the Eucharistic celebrations at which Ipresided in Finland and Sweden during my journey to the Scandinavian and Nordiccountries. At Communion time, the Lutheran Bishops approached the celebrant.They wished, by means of an agreed gesture, to demonstrate their desire forthat time when we, Catholics and Lutherans, will be able to share the sameEucharist, and they wished to receive the celebrant's blessing. With love Iblessed them. The same gesture, so rich in meaning, was repeated in Rome at theMass at which I presided in Piazza Farnese, on the sixth centenary of thecanonization of Saint Birgitta of Sweden, on 6 October 1991.

I have encountered similar sentiments on the other side of the ocean also:in Canada, in September 1984; and particularly in September 1987 in the UnitedStates, where one notices a great ecumenical openness. This was the case, togive one example, of the ecumenical meeting held at Columbia, South Carolina on11 September 1987. The very fact that such meetings regularly take placebetween the Pope and these brothers and sisters whose Churches and EcclesialCommunities originate in the Reformation is important in itself. I am deeplygrateful for the warm reception which I have received both from the leaders ofthe various Communities and from the Communities as a whole. From thisstandpoint, I consider significant the ecumenical celebration of the Word heldin Columbia on the theme of the family.

73 It is also a source of great joy to observe how in thepostconciliar period and in the local Churches many programmes and activitieson behalf of Christian unity are in place, programmes and activities which havea stimulating effect at the level of Episcopal Conferences, individual Diocesesand parishes, and at the level of the various ecclesial organizations andmovements.

Achievements of cooperation

74 "Not every one who says to me, 'Lord, Lord', willenter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is inheaven" (Mt 7,21). The consistency and honesty of intentions and ofstatements of principles are verified by their application to real life. TheCouncil Decree on Ecumenism notes that among other Christians "the faithby which they believe in Christ bears fruit in praise and thanksgiving for thebenefits received from the hands of God. Joined to it are a lively sense ofjustice and a true neighbourly charity".125

What has just been outlined is fertile ground not only for dialogue but alsofor practical cooperation: "Active faith has produced many organizationsfor the relief of spiritual and bodily distress, the education of youth, theadvancement of humane social conditions, and the promotion of peace throughoutthe world".126

Social and cultural life offers ample opportunities for ecumenicalcooperation. With increasing frequency Christians are working together todefend human dignity, to promote peace, to apply the Gospel to social life, tobring the Christian spirit to the world of science and of the arts. They findthemselves ever more united in striving to meet the sufferings and the needs ofour time: hunger, natural disasters and social injustice.

75 For Christians, this cooperation, which draws itsinspiration from the Gospel itself, is never mere humanitarian action. It hasits reason for being in the Lord's words: "For I was hungry and you gaveme food" (Mt 25,35). As I have already emphasized, the cooperationamong Christians clearly manifests that degree of communion which alreadyexists among them.127

Before the world, united action in society on the part of Christians has theclear value of a joint witness to the name of the Lord. It is also a form ofproclamation, since it reveals the face of Christ.

The doctrinal disagreements which remain exercise a negative influence andeven place limits on cooperation. Still, the communion of faith which alreadyexists between Christians provides a solid foundation for their joint actionnot only in the social field but also in the religious sphere.

Such cooperation will facilitate the quest for unity. The Decree onEcumenism noted that "through such cooperation, all believers in Christare able to learn easily how they can understand each other better and esteemeach other more, and how the road to the unity of Christians may be madesmooth".128

76 In this context, how can I fail to mention theecumenical interest in peace, expressed in prayer and action by ever greaternumbers of Christians and with a steadily growing theological inspiration? Itcould not be otherwise. Do we not believe in Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace?Christians are becoming ever more united in their rejection of violence, everykind of violence, from wars to social injustice.

We are called to make ever greater efforts, so that it may be ever moreapparent that religious considerations are not the real cause of currentconflicts, even though, unfortunately, there is still a risk of religion beingexploited for political and polemical purposes.

In 1986, at Assisi, during the World Day of Prayer for Peace,Christians of the various Churches and Ecclesial Communities prayed with onevoice to the Lord of history for peace in the world. That same day, in adifferent but parallel way, Jews and representatives of non-Christian religionsalso prayed for peace in a harmonious expression of feelings which struck aresonant chord deep in the human spirit.

Nor do I wish to overlook the Day of Prayer for Peace in Europe,especially in the Balkans, which took me back to the town of Saint Francisas a pilgrim on 9-10 January 1993, and the Mass for Peace in the Balkans andespecially in Bosnia-Hercegovina, which I celebrated on 23 January 1994 inSaint Peter's Basilica during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

When we survey the world joy fills our hearts. For we note that Christiansfeel ever more challenged by the issue of peace. They see it as intimatelyconnected with the proclamation of the Gospel and with the coming of God'sKingdom.

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