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Monday, March 12, 2012


Vatican City, 10 March 2012 (VIS) - This evening the Holy Father presided at Vespers in the Roman monastery of San Gregorio al Celio, in a ceremony marking the thousandth anniversary of the foundation of the mother house of the Camaldolese Order of St. Benedict, the Feast of the Transit of St, Gregory, and the visit to Rome of His Grace Rowan Williams, archbishop of Canterbury and primate of the Anglican Communion.

Following readings from the Psalms and the Gospel, Benedict XVI and the Archbishop of Canterbury each pronounced a homily.

"Today’s celebration is", the Pope said, "marked by a profoundly ecumenical character which, as we know, is part and parcel of the modern Camaldolese spirit. This Roman Camaldolese monastery has developed with Canterbury and the Anglican Communion, especially since the Vatican Council II, links that now qualify as traditional. Today, for the third time, the Bishop of Rome is meeting the Archbishop of Canterbury in the home of St. Gregory the Great. And it is right that it should be so, because it was from this monastery that Pope Gregory chose Augustine and his forty monks and sent them to bring the Gospel to the Angles, a little over 1,400 years ago".

The Holy Father recalled how St. Gregory's "blameless ministry" was "full of zeal for the Gospel. Truly, what St. Paul wrote of himself applies equally to Gregory: the grace of God in him has not been fruitless. This, indeed, is the secret for the lives of every one of us: to welcome God’s grace and to consent with all our heart and all our strength to its action. This is also the secret of true joy and profound peace".

"At the root of everything, is the grace of God, the gift of the call, the mystery of the encounter with the living Jesus. But this grace demands a response from those who have been baptised: it requires the commitment to be re-clothed in Christ’s sentiments: tenderness, goodness, humility, meekness, magnanimity, mutual forgiveness, and above all ... 'agape', the love that God has given us through Jesus, the love that the Holy Spirit has poured into our hearts".

Pope Benedict went on to recall that the Camaldolese Order "has completed a thousand years of history, feeding daily on the word of God and the Eucharist, as their founder St. Romuald taught them, according to the 'triplex bonum' of solitude, community life and evangelisation". He also mentioned the order's many saints, blesseds and martyrs, men of learning, historians and pastors of the Church "exemplary men and women of God" who "have revealed the horizons and the great fruitfulness of the Camaldolese tradition".

The Holy Father completed his homily by expressing the hope that "all the faithful, both Catholic and Anglican, ... as they visit the glorious tombs of the holy apostles and martyrs in Rome, may renew their commitment to pray constantly and to work for unity, and to live fully in accordance with the “ut unum sint” that Jesus addressed to the Father".

In his remarks, Archbishop Williams referred to the "certain yet imperfect" communion between the Catholic and Anglican Churches. Both, he said, share "a vision of the restoration of full sacramental communion, of a Eucharistic life that is fully visible, and thus a witness that is fully credible, so that a confused and tormented world may enter into the welcome and transforming light of Christ". At the same time, "our recognition of the one Body in each other’s corporate life is unstable and incomplete; yet without such ultimate recognition we are not yet fully free to share the transforming power of the Gospel in Church and world".

At the end of Vespers the Holy Father and the Archbishop of Canterbury entered the Chapel of St. Gregory where they lit two candles to honour the memory of St. Gregory the Great and of St. Augustine of Canterbury.

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