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Sunday, June 6, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 6 JUN 2010 (VIS) - This morning the Pope celebrated Mass at Nicosia's Eleftheria sports centre for the occasion of the publication of the "Instrumentum laboris" of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops. The centre has capacity for some six thousand people.

  The ceremony was attended by patriarchs and bishops of the various ecclesial communities of the Middle East and by a large number of Cypriot faithful. At the beginning of the ceremony Archbishop Joseph Soueif of Cyprus of the Maronites addressed some brief words of greeting to the Holy Father.

  In his homily, Benedict recalled the fact that today is the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, explaining how "the name given to this feast in the West, is used in the Church's tradition to designate three distinct realities: the physical body of Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary, His Eucharistic body, the bread of heaven which nourishes us in this great Sacrament, and His ecclesial body, the Church. By reflecting on these different aspects of the Corpus Christi, we come to a deeper understanding of the mystery of communion which binds together those who belong to the Church".

  "Each of us who belongs to the Church needs to abandon the closed world of our own individuality and accept the company of those who share the bread with us. ... This is why we daily pray to 'our' Father for 'our' daily bread. Breaking down the barriers between us and our neighbours is the first condition for us to enter into the divine life to which we are called. We need to be freed from everything that blocks and isolates us: fear and mistrust of one another, greed and selfishness, unwillingness to accept the risk of vulnerability to which we are exposed when we open ourselves to love".

  The Pope highlighted how "in the first Christian community, nourished at the Lord's table, we see the effects of the Holy Spirit's unifying action. They shared their goods in common, all material attachment being overcome by love for the brethren. ... Yet their love was by no means limited to their fellow believers. They never saw themselves as exclusive, privileged beneficiaries of divine favour, but rather as messengers, sent to bring the good news of salvation in Christ to the ends of the earth. And so it was that the message entrusted to the Apostles by the Risen Lord was spread throughout the Middle East, and outwards from there across the whole of the world".

  "We are called to overcome our differences, to bring peace and reconciliation where there is conflict, to offer the world a message of hope. We are called to reach out to those in need, generously sharing our earthly goods with those less fortunate than ourselves. And we are called to proclaim unceasingly the death and resurrection of the Lord, until He comes".

  At the end of the Mass Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops thanked the Pope for having called the Special Assembly for the Middle East, which is due to be celebrated in the Vatican in October, and invited him to consign a copy of the "Instrumentum laboris", or working document, to the members of the Special Council for the Synod.

  Before praying the Angelus, Benedict XVI highlighted how "the Middle East has a special place in the hearts of all Christians, since it was there that God first made Himself known to our fathers in faith".

  "It is well known", he said, "that some of you suffer great trails due to the current situation in the region. The Special Assembly will be an opportunity for Christians of the rest of the world to offer spiritual support and solidarity to their brothers and sisters in the Middle East".

  "You", the Pope told local Christians, "wish to live in peace and harmony with your Jewish and Muslim neighbours. Often you work alongside builders of peace in the difficult process of reconciliation, and you deserve recognition for the priceless role you play. It is my hope that your rights will always be respected, including the right to freedom of worship, and that your never suffer discrimination of any kind".

  "I pray that the work of the Special Assembly will help to focus the attention of the international community on the plight of those Christians in the Middle East who suffer for their beliefs, so that just and lasting solutions may be found to the conflicts that cause so much hardship. On this grave matter, I reiterate my personal appeal for an urgent and concerted international effort to resolve the ongoing tensions in the Middle East, especially in the Holy Land, before such conflicts lead to greater bloodshed.

  "With these thoughts", he added in conclusion, "I now present to you the text of the 'Instrumentum laboris' of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops".

  After having prayed the Angelus the Pope mentioned a beatification ceremony being held today in Warsaw, Poland. "I send cordial greetings to the Church in Poland which today rejoices at the elevation to the altars of Fr. Jerzy Popieluszko", he said. "His zealous service and his martyrdom are a special sign of the victory of good over evil. May his example and his intercession nourish the zeal of priests and enkindle the faithful with love".

  After the Eucharistic celebration, the Holy Father travelled back to the apostolic nunciature in Nicosia where he had lunch with members of his entourage, patriarchs and bishops of the Special Council of the Synod for the Middle East, and His Beatitude Chrysostomos II.
PV-CYPRUS/                                VIS 20100606 (960)

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