VATICAN CITY, JUN 28, 1998 (VIS) - Today the Holy Father received in audience the delegation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate, in Rome for tomorrow's celebration of the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles.
The Pope recalled that "the two brother Apostles Peter and Andrew, patrons respectively of the Church of Rome and the Church of Constantinople, bring to mind the vocation received from the Lord to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom. ... This is the perennial task of the disciples of the Lord in every age and every place: the proclamation of the Kingdom and the healing of the evils afflicting the People of God."
"The witness of Christian unity becomes even more imperative," in this task, the Holy Father added. He then recalled "with joy" the joint Catholic-Orthodox declaration in which "His Holiness Bartholomew I and myself ... expressed our shared convictions that 'reflection, prayer, dialogue, reciprocal forgiveness and mutual fraternal love will bring us closer to the Lord and help us better to understand His will for the Church and for humanity'."
VATICAN CITY, JUN 29, 1998 (VIS) - Today, the Solemnity of Saints Peters and Paul, Apostles, the Pope celebrated Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, and imposed the pallium on 19 metropolitan archbishops from different countries.
In his homily, John Paul II recalled that on this solemn day, following an ancient tradition, the metropolitan archbishops appointed in the last year, come to Rome "to receive the sacred pallium from the Successor of Peter, as a sign of communion with him and with the universal Church."
The presence of the metropolitan archbishops "singularly expresses three of the essential characteristics of the Church which is one, Catholic and apostolic. With regards to her holiness, it is fully evident in the witness of the 'pillars', Peter and Paul."
"Moreover, it is a special reason for joy and comfort to have here present the venerable brothers from the Orthodox Church, delegates from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. I sincerely thank them for this renewed sign of homage to the memory of Saints Peter and Paul, apostles."
The Pope ended by highlighting that "all Christians, particularly pastors, are invited to do acts of charity which, respecting the truth, express commitment to the Gospel for its full unity, and at the same time, promote it according to the will of the our only Lord Jesus."
VATICAN CITY, JUN 29, 1998 (VIS) - Addressing the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square for the noon angelus, John Paul II reminded them that "today we celebrate the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul: it is a feast throughout the Church but is especially important in Rome, which venerates them as its patron saints."
Recalling that Peter and Paul were both martyred in Rome, he emphasized that this fact "constitutes the basis, both spiritual and historical, of the singular role of the community of Rome and of its bishop in the universal Church."
The Pope then greeted the delegation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, in Rome to celebrate today's festivities. He had special words as well for the new metropolitan archbishops to whom, a short time earlier in St. Peter's Basilica, he had given the pallium, "a sign of communion with the See of Peter."
Lastly, the Holy Father had affectionate words and "a warm and paternal desire for peace and blessings for the diocese of Rome," of which he is bishop.