Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Pope Francis has a "strong desire" to continue the ecumenical journey towards the "noble cause" of Christian unity, he is confident that the "fraternal dialogue" with the Jewish people will continue, he "appreciates" the presence of Muslims at the ceremony marking the beginning of his pontificate, with which to promote "friendship and respect between men and women of different religious traditions", a phrase repeated twice. And all believers "can do much" not only to promote peace and justice, but also to "keep thirst for the absolute alive in the world, not allowing a one-dimension vision of the human person prevail, where man is reduced to what he produces and consumes: this is one of the most dangerous pitfalls for our time. " This morning's meeting with 33 delegations from churches and religious denominations, Christian and non-Christian, who attended the inaugural mass of the new Pope was an insight into this pontificate's line regarding relations with other Christians and religions, and even those who "do not even belong to any religions but who feel close to the truth and beauty".
The Pope responded to the warm greetings of Patriarch Bartholomew and calling him Andrew, the name of the apostle founder and patron of the Patriarchate. "Yesterday morning - he adds - during Holy Mass, through your presence, I recognized the spiritual presence of the community you represent. In this manifestation of faith, the prayer for unity among believers in Christ seemed even more urgent to men and together somehow to see prefigured this full realization, which depends on the Divine plan and our sincere cooperation. "
Francis then made a double reference to the link between the beginning of his pontificate, the Year of Faith and the fiftieth anniversary of Vatican II. He announced that want to continue the initiative of the Year of Faith, "a truly inspired" idea of Benedict XVI and then he quoted John XXIII. "Together with you - he said - I can not forget how the council's significance for the ecumenical journey. I like to remember the words that Blessed John XXIII, of whom we will soon mark 50 years since his death, when he gave his memorable inauguration speech: "The Catholic Church therefore considers it her duty to work actively so that there may be fulfilled the great mystery of that unity, which Christ Jesus invoked with fervent prayer from His heavenly Father on the eve of His sacrifice. She rejoices in peace, knowing well that she is intimately associated with that prayer'".
"Yes, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all be intimately united to our Saviour's prayer at the Last Supper, to his invocation: ut unum sint. We call merciful Father to be able to fully live the faith that we have received as a gift on the day of our Baptism, and to be able to it free, joyful and courageous testimony. The more we are faithful to his will, in thoughts, in words and in deeds, the more we will truly and substantially walk towards unity".
Then addressing the "Jewish people" he recalled "very special spiritual bond" that ties them to Christians. Citing "Nostra Aetate" he repeated that " the Church of Christ acknowledges that according to God's saving design, the beginnings of her faith and her election are found already among the Patriarchs, Moses and the prophets".(Decree Nostra Aetate, 4). I thank you for your presence and trust that with the help of the Almighty, we can continue that fruitful fraternal dialogue that the Council wished for. And that it is actually achieved, bringing many fruits, especially during the last decades".
Addressing the Muslims whose presence is " a tangible sign of the wish to grow in recipricol trust and in cooperation for the common good of humanity," the Pope stressed that "the Catholic Church is aware of the importance of the promotion of friendship and respect between men and women of different religious traditions - this I wish to repeat this: the promotion of friendship and respect between men and women of different religious traditions."
"We know - he concluded - We know how much violence has been provoked in recent history by the attempt to eliminate God and the divine from the horizon of humanity, and we feel the need to witness in our societies the original openness to transcendence that is inherent in the human heart. In this we feel the closeness also of those men and women who, while not belonging to any religious tradition, feel, however the need to search for the truth, the goodness and the beauty of God, and who are our precious allies in efforts to defend the dignity of man, in the building of a peaceful coexistence between peoples and in the careful protection of creation.. "