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Monday, December 4, 2006


VATICAN CITY, DEC 3, 2006 (VIS) - At midday today, before praying the Angelus with pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square, Benedict XVI recalled his recent apostolic trip to Turkey, during which, he said, "I felt how I was accompanied and supported by the prayers of the entire Christian community."

  The Pope expressed the hope that his recent journey would produce "fruits of goodness for ever more sincere cooperation among all Christ's disciples and for a productive dialogue with Muslim believers." After thanking the Turkish authorities and people for "a welcome worthy of their traditional spirit of hospitality," the Holy Father mentioned the Catholic community in Turkey which, he said, "often finds itself in difficult conditions."

  Catholics in Turkey, Pope Benedict went on, are "a small but varied flock, rich in enthusiasm and faith, who ... always live the experience of Advent intensely, sustained by hope. During Advent, the liturgy often ... assures us, almost as if to overcome our natural diffidence, that God 'comes:' He comes to be with us. ... He comes to bridge the distances that divide and separate us. He comes to reconcile us with Him and among ourselves. He comes into the history of humanity ... to bring the gift of fraternity, harmony and peace."

  For this reason, "Advent is, par excellence, the time of hope," he went on. And to live it fully, "the liturgy exhorts us to look to Mary Most Holy and to walk ... with her towards the manger of Bethlehem. When God knocked at the door of her young life, she accepted Him with faith and love. ... Let us allow ourselves to be attracted by her beauty, a reflection of divine glory, so that 'the God Who comes' may find in each of us a good and open heart He can fill with His gifts."
ANG/TURKEY:ADVENT/...                            VIS 20061204 (320)

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