| ECUMENICAL CEREMONY IN ROME TO SET PRECEDENT
|| VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- When he opens the Holy Door of the Basilica of St. Paul
Outside the Walls on January 18, Pope John Paul II will be accompanied in that gesture by two
representatives of the world's other Christian churches. That ecumenical gesture marks a first in
the history of the Catholic Church. The opening of the Holy Door at St. Paul's has always been
planned as an ecumenical event, to be held one the first day of the annual week of prayer for
Christian unity. Representatives of all the world's major Christian churches have been invited--
and with few exceptions will participate in the ceremony.
On January 14, the Vatican released the final list of participants in the ceremony. There will be
22 delegations from various Christian churches, including 16 representing the Eastern churches.
Among the world's Orthodox leaders, only the patriarch of Georgia failed to answer the Pope's
invitation; he explained that the Georgian Orthodox Church will be conducting a synod at the
time of the ceremony. Among the world's Western churches, the Church of England will be
represented by the Archbishop of Canterbury himself, George Carey. The president of the
World Lutheran Federation, Rev. Christian Krause, will also participate. At least 15 of the
ecumenical delegates will play an active part in the ceremony. They will be chosen to represent
the three major groups of Christian churches: the Oriental Orthodox (who split from Rome at the
Council of Chalcedon), the Eastern Orthodox, and the Reformation churches.
Approximately 6,000 people are expected to attend the ceremony, which will include the
Liturgy of the Hours as well as the short ritual for the opening of the Holy Door. Along with the
homily by Pope John Paul II and the actual opening of the Holy Door, the significant moments of
the liturgical ritual will include the exchange of peace among the representatives of the Christian
churches, and the common profession of faith.