Dr Rowan Williams and Patriarch Bartholomew to attend Mass marking 50th anniversary of council

The Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople and the Archbishop of Canterbury will join Pope Benedict XVI’s celebration of the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, it was announced today.

Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople and Dr Rowan Williams will attend the Mass that Pope Benedict will celebrate at the Vatican to mark the anniversary of the opening of the council on October 11, 1962, Vatican officials said.

Representatives from the Orthodox Church and Anglican Communion were observers at the 1962-65 council, which officially embraced and promoted Catholic involvement in the ecumenical movement.

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During the January celebration of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Pope Benedict said the Second Vatican Council placed the search for Christian unity “at the center of the life and work of the Church,” because it was Christ’s desire that his followers be united.

In addition, the Pope said, “the lack of unity among Christians impedes a more effective proclamation of Christ because it puts our credibility in danger … How can we give a convincing witness if we are divided?”

Ecumenical cooperation in proclaiming the Christian message is expected to be a key topic at the world Synod of Bishops on new evangelisation on October 7-28.

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