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Friday, June 4, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 4 JUN 2010 (VIS) - Benedict XVI, the first Pope ever to visit Cyprus, landed at the island's Paphos airport at 2 p.m. local time today, thus beginning his sixteenth apostolic trip outside Italy. On arrival he was greeted by Demetris Christofias, president of Cyprus, accompanied by his wife.

  Also at the airport to welcome the Holy Father were Archbishop Antonio Franco, apostolic nuncio to Cyprus; Archbishop Joseph Soueif of Cyprus of the Maronites; His Beatitude Fouad Twal, patriarch of Jerusalem of the Latins; Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Custos of the Holy Land, and His Beatitude Chrysostomos II, Orthodox Patriarch of Cyprus.

  Following a greeting from the president of Cyprus, Benedict XVI pronounced a brief address in English.

  "Cyprus stands at the crossroads of cultures and religions, of histories both proud and ancient but which still retain a strong and visible impact upon the life of your country", he said. Having recently acceded to the European Union, the Republic of Cyprus is beginning to witness the benefit of closer economic and political ties with other European States. ... It is greatly to be hoped that membership will lead to prosperity at home and that other Europeans in their turn will be enriched by your spiritual and cultural heritage which reflects your historical role, standing between Europe, Asia and Africa. May the love of your homeland and of your families and the desire to live in harmony with your neighbours under the compassionate protection of almighty God, inspire you patiently to resolve the remaining concerns that you share with the international community for the future of your island.

  "Following in the footsteps of our common fathers in the faith, Sts. Paul and Barnabas, I have come among you as a pilgrim and the servant of the servants of God", the Pope added. "Since the Apostles brought the Christian message to these shores, Cyprus has been blessed by a resilient Christian heritage. I greet as a brother in that faith His Beatitude Chrysostomos II, archbishop of New Justiniana and All Cyprus, and I look forward shortly to meeting many more members of the Orthodox Church of Cyprus.

  "I also look forward to greeting other Cypriot religious leaders. I hope to strengthen our common bonds and to reiterate the need to build up mutual trust and lasting friendship between all those who worship the one God.

  "As the Successor of Peter, I come in a special way to greet the Catholics of Cyprus, to confirm them in the faith and to encourage them to be both exemplary Christians and exemplary citizens, and to play a full role in society, to the benefit of both Church and State". The Pope also noted how during his visit he would consign the "Instrumentum laboris" of the forthcoming Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops, which "will examine many aspects of the Church's presence in the region and the challenges that Catholics face, sometimes in trying circumstances, in living out their communion within the Catholic Church and offering their witness in the service of society and the world.

  "Cyprus", he concluded, "is thus an appropriate place in which to launch our Church's reflection on the place of the centuries-old Catholic community in the Middle East, our solidarity with all the Christians of the region and our conviction that they have an irreplaceable role to play in peace and reconciliation among its peoples".

  Having completed his address, the Pope moved on to the church of Agia Kiriaki Chrysopolitissa to participate in an ecumenical ceremony.
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VATICAN CITY, 4 JUN 2010 (VIS) - At 3.15 p.m. today the Holy Father arrived at the church of Agia Kiriaki Chrysopolitissa (St. Ciriaca Chrysopolitissa), an Orthodox place of worship that is also open to Catholics and Anglicans. It was founded in 1987 by His Beatitude Chrysostomos II, archbishop of Cyprus, who was then bishop of Paphos. The church overlooks an archaeological site containing the remains of a fourth-century paleo-Christian basilica and is very near the "Column of St. Paul", an object of popular devotion associated with the Apostle of the Gentile's stay on the island.

  On arrival the Pope was greeted by the pastor of the Latin community. Following a moment of silent prayer in the church, he then exited by the central doors to greet the faithful gathered in the archaeological site. His Beatitude Chrysostomos II welcomed the Holy Father who, following a reading from the Acts of the Apostles recounting the first visit to Cyprus of Sts. Barnabas and Paul, pronounced his address.

  From this place, said the Holy Father, "the Gospel message began to spread throughout the empire, and the Church, grounded in the apostolic preaching, was able to take root throughout the then-known world.

  "The Church in Cyprus can rightly be proud of her direct links to the preaching of Paul, Barnabas and Mark, and her communion in the apostolic faith, a communion which links her to all those Churches who preserve that same rule of faith. This is the communion, real yet imperfect, which already unites us, and which impels us to overcome our divisions and to strive for the restoration of that full visible unity which is the Lord's will for all His followers".

  "The Church's communion in the apostolic faith is both a gift and a summons to mission", said the Pope. For this reason all Christians must "bear prophetic witness to the risen Lord and to His Gospel of reconciliation, mercy and peace. In this context, the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops ... will reflect on the vital role of Christians in the region, encourage them in their witness to the Gospel, and help foster greater dialogue and co-operation between Christians throughout the region. Significantly, the labours of the Synod will be enriched by the presence of fraternal delegates from other Churches and Christian communities in the region, as a sign of our common commitment to the service of God's word and our openness to the power of His reconciling grace.

  "The unity of all Christ's disciples is a gift to be implored from the Father in the hope that it will strengthen the witness to the Gospel in today's world", he added. "Just a hundred years ago, at the Edinburgh Missionary Conference, the acute awareness that divisions between Christians were an obstacle to the spread of the Gospel gave birth to the modern ecumenical movement. Today we can be grateful to the Lord, Who through His Spirit has led us, especially in these last decades, to rediscover the rich apostolic heritage shared by East and West, and in patient and sincere dialogue to find ways of drawing closer to one another, overcoming past controversies, and looking to a better future".

  The Holy Father went on: "The Church in Cyprus, which serves as a bridge between East and West, has contributed much to this process of reconciliation. The path leading to the goal of full communion will certainly not be without its difficulties, yet the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church of Cyprus are committed to advancing in the way of dialogue and fraternal co-operation.

  "May the Holy Spirit enlighten our minds and strengthen our resolve, so that together we can bring the message of salvation to the men and women of our time, who thirst for the truth that brings authentic freedom and salvation, the truth whose name is Jesus Christ", he concluded.

  After praying the Our Father and listening to a Byzantine hymn, the Pope went back into the church where he blessed a plaque that will be placed in a new old people's home being built by the Catholic community of Cyprus. He then travelled by car to Nicosia, the capital city of Cyprus.
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VATICAN CITY, 3 JUN 2010 (VIS) - At 7 p.m. today, Solemnity of Corpus Christi, Benedict XVI celebrated Mass in the Roman basilica of St. John Lateran. The celebration was followed by Eucharistic adoration in the same basilica, while the traditional Eucharistic procession to the basilica of St. Mary Major was suspended due to the inclement weather.

  In his homily the Pope invited the faithful to "meditate upon the relationship between the Eucharist and the priesthood of Christ", in the light of Sacred Scripture.

  "The first thing we must always bear in mind is that Jesus was not a priest after the Jewish tradition", said Benedict XVI. "He did not belong to the line of Aaron but to that of Judah, and thus the path of priesthood was legally closed to Him. The person and activity of Jesus of Nazareth did not follow in the wake of the ancient priests, but in that of the prophets. Thus Jesus distanced Himself from a ritualistic conception of religion, criticising the approach that attributed value to human precepts associated with ritual purity rather than to the observance of God's commandments; that is, to love for God and for neighbour, which 'is much more important than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices'. ... Even His death, which we Christians rightly call 'sacrifice', was completely unlike the ancient sacrifices, it was quite the opposite: the execution of a death sentence of the most humiliating kind: crucifixion outside the walls of Jerusalem.

  "In what sense, then, is Jesus a priest?" the Pope asked. In this context he explained how the Letter to the Hebrews presents Christ's passion "as a prayer and an offering. Jesus meets the 'hour' which leads Him to death on the cross immersed in deep prayer, a prayer which consists in uniting His will to that of the Father. This dual yet single will is a will of love. Lived in the context of this prayer, the tragic trial Jesus has to face is transformed into an offering, a living sacrifice".

  Jesus, "having obeyed to the extent of dying on the cross, became a 'cause of salvation' for everyone who obeys Him. In other words, he became the High Priest for having taken upon Himself all the sin of the world as the 'Lamb of God'. It is the Father Who conferred this priesthood at the very moment in which Jesus passed through His death and resurrection, This is not a priesthood after the order of Mosaic Law, but 'after the order of Melchizedek', after a prophetic order, dependent only on His unique relationship with God".

  "The priesthood of Christ involves suffering. Jesus truly suffered and He did so for us. He was the Son and had no need to learn obedience, but we do, we needed it and we will always need it. Thus the Son assumed our humanity and, for us, allowed Himself to be 'educated' in the crucible of suffering, he allowed himself to be transformed by suffering, like the seed which to bring forth fruit must die in the earth. Through this process Jesus was 'made perfect', He underwent 'teleiotheis', ... a term which in the Greek version of the Pentateuch ... is always used to indicate the consecration of the ancient priests. This is a very important discovery, because it tells us that, for Jesus, the passion was like a priestly consecration".

  And so, the Pope continued his explanation, in the Eucharist "Jesus anticipated His sacrifice; not a ritual but a personal sacrifice. At the Last Supper His acts were moved by that 'eternal spirit' with which He would subsequently give Himself up to the cross. Giving thanks and blessing, Jesus transformed the bread and wine. It is divine love that transforms: the love with which Jesus accepted in advance to give Himself for us. This love is the Holy Spirit, the Sprit of the Father and of the Son, which consecrates the bread and wine and alters their substance into the Body and Blood of the Lord, making present in the Sacrament the sacrifice which would be cruelly realised on the cross".

  "It is divine power, the same power that created the incarnation of the Word, that transforms extreme violence and extreme injustice into a supreme act of love and justice", the Pope concluded. "This is the work of the priesthood of Christ, which the Church has inherited and extends through history, in the dual form of the common priesthood of the baptised and the ordained priesthood of ministers, so as to transform the world with the love of God".
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VATICAN CITY, 4 JUN 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Bishop Bernard Bober, auxiliary of the archdiocese of Kosice, Slovakia, as metropolitan archbishop of the same archdiocese (area 10,403, population 1,111,132, Catholics 678,170, priests 451, permanent deacons 3, religious 439). The archbishop-elect was born in Zbudske Dlhe, Slovakia in 1950, he was ordained a priest in 1974 and consecrated a bishop in 1993. He succeeds Archbishop Alojz Tkac, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Fr. David M. O'Connell, president of the Catholic University of America in Washington D.C., U.S.A., as coadjutor of Trenton (area 5,580, population 2,048,000, Catholics 822,000, priests 314, permanent deacons 320, religious 510), U.S.A. The bishop-elect was born in Philadelphia, U.S.A. in 1955 and ordained a priest in 1982.

 - Appointed Fr. Joseph Son Sam-seok, dean of the faculty of theology at the major seminary of Pusan, Korea, as auxiliary of Pusan (area 3,267, population 5,452,710, Catholics 409,587, priests 289, religious 877). The bishop-elect was born in Pusan in 1955 and ordained a priest in 1982.

  On Thursday 3 June, he appointed Bishop Dario de Jesus Monsalve Mejia of Malaga - Soata, Colombia, as coadjutor archbishop of Cali (area 2,504, population 2,692,000, Catholics 2,287,000, priests 325, permanent deacons 17, religious 908), Colombia. The archbishop-elect was born in Jerico, Colombia in 1948, he was ordained a priest in 1976 and consecrated a bishop in 1993.
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