Pope John Paul II
Given 29 June 1995
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. Today we are celebrating the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul: a feast of Rome which venerates them as her patrons; a feast of the whole Church, whose spiritual edifice is founded on these two pillars: the Prince of the Apostles and the Teacher of the Gentiles. Today my joy, which I would like to share with all of you, is even greater because the Church of Rome has the privilege of having as her guest the Ecumenical Patriarch, His Holiness Bartholomew I, together with the venerable Brothers who have accompanied him.
How can we fail to remember the bonds of affection which unite us? How can we fail to make explicit mention of the fact that last year he prepared the texts for the Good Friday Way of the Cross at the Colosseum? In a certain sense it was an anticipation of today's gift. Here I would like wholeheartedly to renew my greetings to my brothers and sisters of the Orthodox Church, assuring them of the esteem and affection of the entire Catholic Church. Together we are commemorating the wonders worked by the Holy Spirit in our Christian communities since the beginning, since the martyrdom of the first Apostles.
2. Does not our present joyous meeting remind us of the respective patrons of Constantinople and Rome: the brothers, Andrew and Simon? According to the Evangelist John's account, it was precisely Andrew who introduced his brother to Jesus (cf. Jn 1:40-42).
From that moment, Andrew and Simon followed Christ together, both sharing death on a cross with him, that cross which Saul of Tarsus, converted on the way to Damascus, was to proclaim to the world as the only reason to boast. Today, looking with the vision of faith at the past two millenniums and the third one now close at hand, together we would like to confess that Christ alone is the world's salvation! Only his Death and Resurrection represent true liberation from evil and death. His Cross is the force of reconciliation and peace; it forms the basis of hope for believers in every time and place.
We are one in Christ; we are called to proclaim the Gospel of joy and life to the world. Like Andrew, like Peter and Paul, we must all proclaim it with our life and our words, never ashamed, but glorifying in Christ's Cross. On the Cross the Redeemer opened his heart to us as the sacrament of the "heart" of God, almighty and merciful, the Creator and Lord of the universe.
3. Mary, Mother of God and of the Church, shared with the Apostles the hour of hardship and the hour of communion: with John, she remained faithful beneath the Cross of the Son of God; at Pentecost she welcomed the gift of the Holy Spirit in the Upper Room with the Apostles, sealing by her presence the birth of the Church sent forth to evangelize humanity to the very ends of the earth.
O Mary, look down upon the Successor of Peter and the Successor of Andrew, gathered here today. Grant that the Christians of the East and those of the West will always advance on the way of unity and fidelity to the Gospel. Renew the miracles of the early Christian communities in these years leading up to the Year 2000, so that contemporary humanity will believe in Christ, the one Saviour of the world.
Weekly Edition in English
5 July 1995, pp. 6, 7
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