18-July-2008 -- Vatican Information Service |

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Road of Ecumenism Leads to Joint Eucharistic Celebration

VATICAN CITY, 18 JUL 2008 (VIS) - This morning, after celebrating Mass in the chapel of Cathedral House in Sydney, the Holy Father received in private audiences Marie Bashir, governor of New South Wales; Morris Iemma, premier of New South Wales, and Clover Moore, mayor of Sydney, each accompanied by members of their family.

Shortly before 10.30 a.m., Benedict XVI went to the crypt of St. Mary's Cathedral where he presided at an ecumenical meeting with 40 representatives of other Churches and Christian confessions, and with members of the New South Wales Ecumenical Council. Following introductory greetings from Cardinal George Pell, archbishop of Sydney, and Anglican Bishop Robert Forsyth of Sydney, the Pope pronounced an address:

"Australia is a country marked by much ethnic and religious diversity", he said, "a nation which recognises the importance of religious freedom. This is a fundamental right which ... allows citizens to act upon values which are rooted in their deepest beliefs, contributing thus to the well-being of society".

Benedict XVI mentioned the second millennium of the birth of St. Paul which the Church is celebrating this year, recalling how the Apostle of the Gentiles affirmed that through Baptism we become members of the Body of Christ. "This Sacrament, entryway to the Church and 'bond of unity'", said the Pope, "is the point of departure for the entire ecumenical movement. Yet it is not the final destination. The road of ecumenism ultimately points towards a common celebration of the Eucharist, which Christ entrusted to His Apostles as the Sacrament of the Church's unity par excellence".

"For this reason, a candid dialogue concerning the place of the Eucharist - stimulated by a renewed and attentive study of scripture, patristic writings, and documents from across the two millennia of Christian history - will undoubtedly help to advance the ecumenical movement and unify our witness to the world".

The ecumenical movement has, the Pope observed, "reached a critical juncture. To move forward, we must continually ask God to renew our minds with the Holy Spirit, Who speaks to us through the scriptures and guides us into all truth. We must guard against any temptation to view doctrine as divisive and hence an impediment to the seemingly more pressing and immediate task of improving the world in which we live".

"The more closely we strive for a deeper understanding of the divine mysteries, the more eloquently our works of charity will speak of God's bountiful goodness and love towards all. ... Ecumenical dialogue advances not only through an exchange of ideas but by a sharing in mutually enriching gifts. An 'idea' aims at truth; a 'gift' expresses love. Both are essential to dialogue. Opening ourselves to accept spiritual gifts from other Christians quickens our ability to perceive the light of truth which comes from the Holy Spirit.

"St. Paul", Pope Benedict added, "teaches that it is within the 'koinonia' of the Church that we have access to and the means of safeguarding the truth of the Gospel, for the Church is 'built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets' with Jesus Himself as the cornerstone".

"Every element of the Church's structure is important, yet all of them would falter and crumble without the cornerstone Who is Christ. As 'fellow citizens' of the 'household of God', Christians must work together to ensure that the edifice stands strong so that others will be attracted to enter and discover the abundant treasures of grace within. As we promote Christian values, we must not neglect to proclaim their source by giving a common witness to Jesus Christ the Lord".

Following the ceremony, Benedict XVI went to the chapter house of the cathedral where he met with 40 representatives of other religions.

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