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Could John XXIII and John Paul II be the patron saints of Christian unity?

2014-04-26

Catholics will not be the only ones celebrating the canonizations of John XXIII and John Paul II. Delegations from other faiths will also be at the ceremony at St. Peter's Square

According to Card. Kurt Koch, the president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, both Popes contributed greatly to ecumenism. He said John XXIII started it all.


CARD. KURT KOCH
President, Pontifical Council for Christian Unity
"The announcement of the Second Vatican Council took the world by surprise. Not just Catholics, but also Christians. It was also surprising that John XXIII said that the Council's purpose was to achieve Christian unity. Many Christians were thankful for this task. We can see ecumenism was close to John XXIII's heart.”

John XXIII created the modern-day Council Card. Koch leads. The Second Vatican Council led to greater dialogue and cooperation among Christians. And though full unity remains elusive, the work continues to this day. 

Today, relations between Catholicism and the Christian denominations are at an all-time high. Card. Koch said all Popes since John XXIII have contributed greatly, but none more so than John Paul II.

CARD. KURT KOCH
President, Pontifical Council for Christian Unity
"A beautiful continuation of this ecumenical challenge was the pontificate of John Paul II. He met with many, many other Christian leaders, especially in his trips. He visited many other Churches. This is a good sign that the Catholic Church is loyal to ecumenism today.”

On a personal level, the canonization is also meaningful for Card. Koch. John Paul II ordained him bishop in 1996. One of his fondest memories of the Polish Pope was his meeting with young Catholics in Bern in 2004. Back then, the Swiss cardinal was bishop of Basel.

CARD. KURT KOCH
President, Pontifical Council for Christian Unity
"In Switzerland, we have a French region, and Italian region and a German region. But they had never met face to face. The first time they met with each other was for the youth event.”

If that event is any indication of the Pope's mass appeal, the canonizations of John Paul II and John XXII could also give another push to bring all Christians closer together.


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