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East and West need to evangelise boldly, says Pope

A view of St Catherine Russian Orthodox church and St Peter's Basilica in Rome (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Catholics and Orthodox Christians need to proclaim the Gospel with renewed energy, Benedict XVI has said.

“For a renewed proclamation of the Gospel in the modern world we need evangelisers animated by the same apostolic zeal St Paul had,” the Pope said in a message to Catholic and Orthodox scholars meeting in Salonika, Greece.

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

He said they need to recognise what Pope Paul VI wrote in 1975 in his apostolic letter on evangelisation: “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 evangelisation is certainly bound up with the witness of unity given by the Church.”