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Saturday, June 16, 2007


VATICAN CITY, JUN 16, 2007 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received His Beatitude Chrysostomos II, archbishop of New Justiniana and All Cyprus. The archbishop affirmed that he had come to Rome to give the Pope "a fraternal kiss of peace and, after a centuries-long non-fraternal journey, to build new bridges of reconciliation, collaboration and love."

  In his turn, the Holy Father delivered a talk in which he described the archbishop's visit as "a gift from the God of steadfastness and encouragement mentioned by St. Paul as he addressed people in Rome listening to the message of salvation for the first time."

  He continued: "We are experiencing that gift of steadfastness today because, notwithstanding the presence of centuries-old divisions ... and despite the effort of closing painful wounds, the Lord has not ceased to guide our steps along the way of unity and reconciliation. And this is, for all of us, a cause for encouragement, because our meeting today is part of an ever more intense search for that full communion for which Christ so longed.

  "We well know," he added, "that adherence to this ardent desire of the Lord cannot and must not be proclaimed only in words or in a purely formal way. Hence, Your Beatitude ... has not come from Cyprus to Rome simply for an exchange of ecumenical courtesy, but to underline the firm decision to persevere in prayer, so that the Lord may show us how to achieve full communion."

  "Thank you, Beatitude, for this gesture of esteem and friendship. In you I greet the pastor of an ancient and illustrious Church, a splendid tile in that magnificent mosaic, the East, ... which constitutes one of the two lungs with which the Church breathes. ... I would like to pay homage to the ancient and venerable Church of Cyprus, rich in saints," such as "Epiphanius, bishop of Constantia, once known as Salamis, ... who undertook his ministry for 35 years in a period of great turbulence for the Church."

  "As a good pastor, Epiphanius showed the flock entrusted to him by Christ the truths in which to believe, the path to follow and the snares to avoid. This is a method that is still valid for announcing the Gospel today, especially to the young generations," because "the Church finds herself finds herself, at the beginning of the third millennium, facing challenges and problems not dissimilar to those faced by Epiphanius."

  "Today too it is necessary ... to warn the People of God against false prophets, against the errors and superficiality of proposals that do not conform to the teaching of the divine Master. ... It is vital to find a new language to proclaim the faith that unites us, ... a spiritual language capable of faithfully transmitting revealed truths" in order "to build, in truth and charity, communion among all the members of the one Body of Christ.

  "This need, of which we are all aware," the Holy Father added, "encourages us to continue, undiscouraged, theological dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church as a whole. It indicates to us that we should use valid and stable means in order to ensure that the search for communion is not a discontinuous and intermittent element in the life and mission of our Churches.

  "Faced with the enormous task before us, ... we must entrust ourselves above all to prayer," though not forgetting to use "all valid human means that may help to reach the objective."

  The Pope concluded his discourse to the archbishop of New Justiniana and All Cyprus: "From this point of view, I consider your visit an extremely useful initiative in helping us progress towards the unity Christ wished. We know that this unity is the gift and fruit of the Holy Spirit, but we also know it requires ... constant efforts, animated by a firm will and an unshakeable faith in the power of the Lord."
AC/CYPRUS CHURCH/CHRYSOSTOMOS II            VIS 20070616 (670)

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