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TESTIMONIES
from issue no. 04 - 2005

The wish of our most blessed predecessors


The Ecumenic Patriarch of Constantinople recalls Pope Wojtyla


by Bartholomew I


Bartholomew I and John Paul II in the Vatican Basilica, during the ceremony in which the Pope handed over to the Patriarch of Constantinople a part of the relics of Saints Gregory Nazianzen and John Chrysostom, bishops of Constantinople and Doctors of the Church, Rome, 27 November 2004

Bartholomew I and John Paul II in the Vatican Basilica, during the ceremony in which the Pope handed over to the Patriarch of Constantinople a part of the relics of Saints Gregory Nazianzen and John Chrysostom, bishops of Constantinople and Doctors of the Church, Rome, 27 November 2004

In words of these days it is impossible not to make reference to the loss of His Holiness Pope John Paul II, who has ended his life and passed into the eternal dwellings, after paying the common debt of human existence.
I met the most blessed Pope four times in the course of the last decade, between 1995 to today, and along with all the world I, too, had the opportunity to ascertain and esteem his many charisms. He truly was a charismatic personality. He travelled more than any other of his predecessors to bring the message of the Gospel, of peace, of justice, of love, of brotherhood and of collaboration among men and among peoples. He had to face many ordeals during his life, and especially in the twenty-six years of his pontificate.
We here in the Ecumenic Patriarchy are particularly grateful to him for the visit he paid about a year after his election to demonstrate his availability and readiness to work for the unity of the separated Christians and in particular of the Catholics and the Orthodox; unity that is a need of our times, the will of the Lord and accomplishment of the prayer He made to His heavenly Father in the garden of Gethsemane shortly before His passion,«so that all be one thing». For that reason he came here and announced together with my venerated predecessor, Patriarch Dimitrios, in November of 1979, on the day of our Feast of the Throne, the setting-up of the joint Commission that would begin shortly afterwards to develop theological dialogue between the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches.
We are grateful to him besides for the recent large gesture with which he restored to us, in answer to our request and plea, the sacred relics of the great holy patriarchs of Constantinople and ecumenic teachers Gregory the Theologian and John Chrysostom.
Our blessed predecessors, Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras, had this desire for the unity of all, and their symbolic embrace in the Holy Places, forty years ago, turned over a new page in the history of Christianity. What has happened in the last forty-fifty years in the field of ecumenic dialogue, of approach and collaboration among the Churches, had its origins in Jerusalem in January 1964. The recently dead Pope John Paul II, as also his direct predecessor [of Paul VI] John XXIII, continued in the same direction, and it was equally followed by my blessed direct predecessor Dimitrios, and I also follow it with my poor efforts, since I firmly believe in the need for peace, for unity, for collaboration and the shared witness of all Christians in the contemporary world.


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