Building unity: Catholics and Orthodox pray June 29

BRIGHTON -- On June 29 Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley and the Catholics of the Archdiocese of Boston will share the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul with a delegation from the Greek Orthodox Diocese of Boston and all New England. The local celebration in Boston is an important way to bring to life the examples of the hierarchs and to begin to realize the hope for Christian unity.

In Rome on June 29 Pope Benedict XVI will preside at the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, the patron saints of Rome. Since the improvement of relations between Orthodox and Catholics starting at the Second Vatican Council, it has become a tradition for the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople to send a delegation to Rome to share the feast of Rome’s patron saints. St. Andrew is the Patron for the Greek Orthodox Mother Church of Constantinople; therefore on Nov. 29, at the Feast of St. Andrew, Pope Benedict XVI will send a delegation to the Greek Orthodox in Constantinople.

Since the joint pilgrimage of Boston Catholics and Orthodox in 1996 to Rome and Constantinople, with the follow-up pilgrimage in 2007 -- both of which were dedicated to restoring full Communion -- it is a tradition in the Archdiocese of Boston to invite the Eastern Orthodox to the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul. This year Methodios, Metropolitan of the Greek Orthodox Diocese of Boston and All New England, will lead the delegation to festal vespers on June 29. And Nov. 29, at the Feast of St. Andrew, Cardinal O’Malley will reciprocate by leading a group of Catholics to the Orthodox’ celebration of the feast of St. Andrew.

The pope has dedicated himself to the effort to build Christian unity, which was one of the principle concerns for which the Second Vatican Council was convened. Jesus asked for all of his followers “that they may be one ... that the world might believe” (John 17:21ff). Orthodox and Catholics were one Church for most of the first millennium after Jesus and both groups have committed to praying and working in order to be unified again.

Vespers on June 29 will start at 7 p.m. at St. John Chrysostom Parish, 4750 Washington St, West Roxbury. All are welcome.