Catholic, Orthodox Evangelization

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — In many countries, Catholics and Orthodox face the same challenges in strengthening Christian life, and an important part of that effort is working together with love and respect, Pope Benedict XVI said.

“For a renewed proclamation of the Gospel in the modern world we need evangelizers animated by the same apostolic zeal St. Paul had,” the pope said in a message to Catholic and Orthodox scholars meeting in Salonika, Greece, Aug. 30-Sept. 2.

The Inter-Christian Symposium was sponsored by the Orthodox faculty of theology at the city’s Aristotle University and the Franciscan Institute of Spirituality at Rome’s Pontifical Antonianum University. The theme of the meeting was “The Witness of the Church in Today’s World.”

“In the course of the centuries, the church has never stopped proclaiming the saving mystery of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, but that proclamation needs renewed energy today,” the pope said.

“In the modern world we see two contradictory phenomena: On one side there is widespread distraction or even insensitivity to the transcendent; on the other, there are numerous signs that in the hearts of many people there remains a deep yearning for God,” the pope wrote.

The challenge is the same for Catholics and for Orthodox, Pope Benedict said.

He said they need to recognize what Pope Paul VI wrote in 1975 in his apostolic letter on evangelization: “As evangelizers, we must offer Christ’s faithful not the image of people divided and separated by unedifying quarrels, but the image of people who are mature in faith and capable of finding a meeting-point beyond the real tensions …. Yes, the destiny of evangelization is certainly bound up with the witness of unity given by the church.”

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