ROME WITNESSES ONE OF MOST IMPORTANT ECUMENICAL
| Conjunction of Catholic and Orthodox Transfiguration
CASTEL GANDOLFO, AUGUST 7 (ZENIT.org). Yesterday, on the feast of the Transfiguration,
John Paul II expressed his concern over the disunity of Christians, when he met at noon with
thousands of pilgrims in the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo.
The Transfiguration is a liturgical feast that both Catholics and Orthodox celebrate on the same day.
Therefore, this Jubilee Year it became a reason for meeting and promoting the ecumenical dialogue
between these two Christian confessions. In response to a request by Bartholomew I, Patriarch of
Constantinople, a prayer vigil was held on Saturday night in the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the
Yesterday, the Holy Father said that the Catholic Church "welcomed with joy" the Ecumenical
Patriarch's appeal to celebrate this "moving" rite united, which was held this weekend "in
communion of faith and intentions." "The occasion was propitious to stress the common profession
of faith in Jesus Christ, Son of God, and the will to obey the Gospel."
Referring to the Transfiguration, a feast that is very much cherished by the Orthodox, the Holy
Father said that "We are before a true epiphany: the manifestation of the Son of God to the world.
We are at the center of the Christian mystery and, consequently, also of the Great Jubilee, which
spurs us to renew our fidelity to Christ."
"Indeed, for believers the various Jubilee events are privileged occasions to meet him and reiterate
the firm decision to cooperate with his universal plan of salvation," the Pope explained.
The Vigil of Ecumenical Prayer proposed by the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, and held
in Rome as a sign of unity for all Orthodox Churches, was presided over by Cardinal Edward Idris
Cassidy, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. In addition to Catholics
and Orthodox, the ceremony was attended by Anglicans and Lutherans.
Representing the Pope, the Cardinal gave a clear message to his listeners: "We must renew our
commitment and work in the objective name of re-establishing our unity."
Bartholomew I called for this ecumenical meeting as early as 1996, when he said: "We invite all
those who believe in Christ and who fight the good fight for him, wherever they are on earth, to
celebrate the 24 hours of August 6, 2000 as a solemn vigil, to give glory to the eternal God," the
Patriarch of Constantinople wrote. The solemn celebration held in Rome last Saturday became
precisely a common invocation of Christians of the different Churches. The mystery of the
Transfiguration, which is central to Orthodox theology, was chosen by this Church as the most
important moment of the Jubilee of the Year 2000.
Archimandrite Polycarp, who represented Patriarch Bartholomew in the liturgy celebrated in Rome,
explained the meaning of this day for the Orthodox. "The divine light of Tabor leads us to
divinization. For Orthodox theology, it is the sign of man's divinization: man will enter his heart in
prayer, will be visited by this uncreated light, the same as on Mount Tabor."
Thus, August 6 became one of the great ecumenical events of the Jubilee, following the opening of
the Holy Door of the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls on January 18, and the May 7
ecumenical commemoration of the 20th century witnesses of faith, in which Christians of various
Churches participated and were mentioned.