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Monday, March 17, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 15 MAR 2008 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican, the Holy Father received the Letters of Credence of Miltiadis Hiskakis, the new ambassador of Greece to the Holy See.

  In his English-language address to the diplomat, the Pope recalled the "valiant efforts" made by the recently deceased Christodoulos, archbishop of Athens and all Greece, "to mend the breach between Christians in the East and West". He also gave assurances of his constant prayers for the "fruitful ministry and good health" of Christodoulos' successor, His Beatitude Ieronymos.

  After reiterating his "eagerness to work together as we travel the road towards Christian unity", the Holy Father recalled that "honesty and trust will be required from all parties if the important questions raised by this dialogue are to continue to be addressed effectively".

  Referring to the forthcoming Jubilee Year marking the bi-millennial anniversary of the birth of St. Paul, the Pope indicated that it "will be a particularly auspicious occasion to intensify our ecumenical endeavours. ... This brilliant 'Apostle to the Gentiles' dedicated his energies to preaching the wisdom of the cross of Christ amidst the people of Greece, who were formed by the highly sophisticated Hellenistic culture".

  "The vibrant exchange between Hellenistic culture and Christianity allowed the former to be transformed by Christian teaching and the latter to be enriched by Greek language and philosophy. ... Even today, visitors to Athens can contemplate Paul's words - now etched on the monument overlooking the Areopagus - which he proclaimed to the learned citizens of the 'polis'. He spoke of the one God in whom 'we live and move and have our being'".

  St. Paul's words, said Pope Benedict, "still resound in the hearts of men and women today. They can help our contemporaries to appreciate more deeply their human dignity, and thus promote the good of the entire human family. It is my hope that the Pauline Year will become a catalyst that will spark reflection upon the history of Europe and stir its inhabitants to rediscover the inestimable treasure of values they have inherited from the integral wisdom of Hellenistic culture and the Gospel".

  Benedict XVI went on to thank the ambassador "for the assurance of your government's resolve to address administrative issues concerning the Catholic Church in your nation. Among these, the question of its juridical status is of particular significance. The Catholic faithful, though few in number, look forward to the favourable results of these deliberations. Indeed, when religious leaders and civil authorities work together to formulate fair legislation in regard to the life of local ecclesial communities, the spiritual welfare of the faithful and the good of all society are enhanced".

  Turning to consider the international arena, the Pope commended "Greece's efforts to promote peace and reconciliation, especially in the surrounding area of the Mediterranean basin".

  In conclusion the Pope recalled "the devastation caused by the wildfires that raged through Greece last summer. I continue to remember in my prayers those who were affected by this disaster", he said.
CD/CREDENTIALS/GREECE:HISKAKIS                VIS 20080317 (510)

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