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Pope stresses unity of purpose among Christians

Pope John Paul II has spoken of his "awareness of Christ's desire for unity among believers" that has led him to "intensify ecumenical contacts" with orthodox, Anglican and other Christian churches.

He was speaking at the traditional gathering in the Vatican's Clementine Hall in which members of the Roman Curia exchange Christmas greetings.

At the beginning of his speech, the Pope recalled that the first gathering with members of the Curia took place exactly twenty-five years ago on December 22, 1978.

The Holy Father said the "purpose that moves us is the same: to announce the Gospel of Christ for the salvation of the world".

He stressed that the "awareness of Christ's desire for unity among believers - 'ut unum sint' - has stimulated [him] to intensify ecumenical contacts with representatives of the venerated Orthodox Churches, with the primate of the Anglican Communion and leaders of the other ecclesial Churches and communities."

Referring then to Europe, the Holy Father emphasised that it continues to live through "a crucial phase in its history, while it expands its borders to other peoples and nations. It is important that Europe, enriched throughout the centuries with the treasure of the Christian faith, confirm these origins and revive these roots. The most important contribution that Christians are called to give to the building of the new Europe is above all that of its faithfulness to Christ and to the Gospel."

Pope: 'it is our duty to work for peace' (Independent Catholic News/Vatican Information Service 22/12/03)

An ailing pope aided by circle of confidants (Washington Post/MSNBC 22/12/03)
Pope says world peace is possible (AFP/ABC 23/12/03)

23 Dec 2003