Catholic Herald Reporter ROME
POPE PAUL has called on the bishops of the world to join with him in prayers on Pentecost Sunday for the success of the Vatican Council. In a letter to them he has stressed that the Council's aims, like those of his own Pontificate, are to establish contact with the great monotheistic religions which are not Christian and to work for Christian unity.
The Apostolic Letter, dated April 30, urged the bishops who will meet in Rome next September for the third session of the Council "to undertake new projects and face the new responsibilties imposed by the present times".
Recalling his thoughts on January 4 last, when he was going towards the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, Pope Paul said: "We must turn our, warm affection and the inclination of our hearts also outside the bounds of Christianity, towards all souls and all nations who believe in one God. This offers great hopes for progress in proper understanding, in mutual charity and in the surest peace of civilised society".
The second commitment of Pope Paul's reign is the movement towards Christian unity. In his letter to the bishops, he declared: "Let us continue calmly and with reverence—to approach those of the separated brethren who do not reject serene and friendly discussions. Let us seek together the way in which brotherhood can be regained, founded upon the same faith and mutual charity, desired by Christ for His Church".
He added a particular prayer for those separated brethren "who are at present experiencing fears, in the hope that. all danger being set aside. they may in freedom, in safety and in peace, enjoy their rights which are based on the laws of nature". This was taken to be a reference to the position of Patriarch Athenagoras of Constantinople.
Reporting cm the current preparations for the third Council session, Pope Paul said that as soon as the projects had been drawn up "in a reduced and concentrated form". they would be sent to the Pope for his examination. In the meantime, he added. the committees would be informed of the procedure which will be adopted for the study and approval of the separate projects.
He asked the faithful for their prayers and added that "they should be instructed concerning the themes of the Council by means of suitable initiatives, especially through the press, and suitable instructions".
Finally, he called on Council experts to adhere faithfully to their mandate; to work for the aims of the Council which are above the aims of individuals through an exemplary life, through their words and writings.