Vatican City (AsiaNews) Benedict XVI said he "would have wished to be present" at the celebration of the Feast of Saint Andrew in Istanbul to assure the Pan-Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I his affection and to pray with him.
On the occasion of the Feast of Saint Andrew, apostle and brother of Saint Peter, the Vatican delegation led by Card Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, delivered a message from the Pope.
In it Benedict XVI assured Bartholomew I of his "fervent hope for an even deeper communion which will overcome those obstacles remaining between us".
The Holy Father is hopeful that Catholics and Orthodox can "celebrate together the Holy Eucharist, the one sacrifice of Christ for the life of the world".
A special thought was reserved for the 40th anniversary of the decision by "both Rome and Constantinople" to "cancel from the Church's memory the sentence of ex-communication which had been pronounced."
The Vatican delegation was received with respect and great warmth. Discussions between the representatives of the two confessions centred on Pope Benedict's desire to visit Istanbul's Fanar neighbourhood and on the overall work of the Joint International Commission on Theological Dialogue between the Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church co-chaired by Cardinal Kasper and the Metropolitan of Pergamus Johannis.