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Saturday, June 5, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 4 JUN 2010 (VIS) - This morning during his flight to Cyprus the Holy Father responded to a number of questions put to him by the journalists accompanying him on the papal plane.

  The first question was put to the Holy Father on behalf of all the journalists present by Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. Referring to the murder in Turkey yesterday of Bishop Luigi Padovese, he asked: "How did you receive this news and how are you experiencing the beginning of your trip to Cyprus in this atmosphere?"

  "Naturally", the Pope replied, "I am profoundly saddened by the death of Bishop Padovese, who also contributed to the preparation of the Synod [for the Middle East] where his collaboration would have been an important element. We commend his soul to the goodness of the Lord. Nonetheless, this shadow has nothing to do with the themes and the reality of this trip, because we must not attribute this event to Turkey or to the Turks. We have little information, though it was certainly not a political or religious murder, but a personal matter. We still await complete explanations, but we do not now wish to mix this tragic situation with dialogue with Islam and with all the problems of our trip. It is a separate case which saddens us but which should not in any way cast a shadow over dialogue, in all senses, which will be the theme and the goal of this journey".

  The Pope was then asked how he felt his visit could help to resolve the distance between the Greek and Turkish sides of the island, and to proceed towards a solution of peaceful coexistence while respecting religious freedom and the spiritual and cultural heritage of the various communities.

  "This trip to Cyprus", the Holy Father explained, "is in many ways a continuation of the trip I made last year to the Holy Land, and of my visit to Malta earlier this year. ... I am not coming with a political message, but a religious message, which I hope will prepare peoples hearts to find an opening for peace".

  Another journalist noted how the Pope was visiting the Middle East "a few days after the Israeli attack on a flotilla of ships near Gaza, bringing further tensions to an already-troubled peace process. How do you feel the Holy See can help to overcome this difficult moment in the Middle East?"

  "I would say that we principally contribute in a religious way", Benedict XVI explained in his reply. "We can also be helpful with political and strategic advice, but the Vatican's essential work is always religious. ... After all the violence we must not lose patience, not lose courage, not lose the generosity to start again, ... in the certainty that we can progress, that we can achieve peace, that not violence, but patience and goodness, is the solution. Creating these conditions is, I feel, the principle work the Vatican, its offices and the Pope can perform".

  Answering a question on the subject of ecumenism, and specifically on dialogue with the Orthodox which has made much recent progress in the cultural spiritual and social fields, the Holy Father emphasised "the great progress achieved in our common witness to Christian values in the secularised world. ... Of course, there are many theological problems, but here too there are strong elements of unity". In this context, the Pope specifically noted "three elements that bind us and bring us increasingly closer together. Firstly, Scripture. ... Secondly, what we could call tradition, which interprets and opens the door to Scripture. ... The third point is the so-called 'regula fidei'; in other words, the confession of the faith as elaborated in the ancient Councils, which is the summa of Scripture. ... Of course", he went on, "it is not theological discussion that of itself creates unity. It is an important element, but all Christian life, knowing one another, the experience of brotherhood, learning despite the experiences of the past, this shared fraternity, are processes that also require great patience. And I believe we are learning patience".

  The last question put to the Holy Father was: "What are your main expectations and hopes for the Middle East Synod, for the Christian communities and for followers of other faiths in that region?"

  "The first important point", said the Pope, "is that bishops and heads of Churches will come together" in "a tangible communion of dialogue and life. Secondly, the visibility of these Churches ... will help us to be neighbours, to increase our mutual knowledge, to learn from and help one another, and therefore also to help the Christians of the Middle East not to lose hope, to remain even if their situation can be difficult. Thus, and this is the third point, in their dialogue between one another they open also to dialogue with other Christians (Orthodox, Armenians, etc.) attaining increased Christian responsibility and a common capacity for dialogue with our Muslim brothers, who remain brothers despite our differences".
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VATICAN CITY, 5 JUN 2010 (VIS) - Having spent the night at the apostolic nunciature in the Cypriot capital of Nicosia, where he arrived from Paphos last night, this morning the Holy Father went to the presidential palace in Nicosia to pay a courtesy visit to Demetris Christofias, president of the Republic of Cyprus. Following his encounter with the president, the Pope met with civil authorities and members of the diplomatic corps.

  Benedict XVI was received outside the palace by President Christofias and his wife. He then left a wreath at the statue of Makarios III (1913-1977), archbishop of the Cypriot Orthodox Church and the first president of the Republic of Cyprus, one of the most important figures in the country's recent history.

  Following a private encounter with the president and his family, the Pope met with the civil authorities and the diplomatic corps in the gardens of the presidential palace, where he pronounced an address.

  "I have", he said, "just laid a wreath at the memorial of the late Archbishop Makarios, the first president of the Republic of Cyprus. Like him, each of you in your lives of public service must be committed to serving the good of others in society, whether at the local, national or international level. This is a noble vocation which the Church esteems".

  "You as public servants know the importance of truth, integrity and respect in your relationships with others", he told his audience. "Personal relationships are often the first steps towards building trust and - in due course - solid bonds of friendship between individuals, peoples and nations. ... In countries with delicate political situations, such honest and open personal relationships can be the beginning of a much greater good for entire societies and peoples".

  "The ancient Greek philosophers also teach us that the common good is served precisely by the influence of people endowed with clear moral insight and courage. ... Moral rectitude and impartial respect for others and their well-being are essential to the good of any society since they establish a climate of trust in which all human interactions, whether religious, or economic, social and cultural, or civil and political, acquire strength and substance".

  Benedict XVI then went on to suggest three practical ways "to respect and promote moral truth in the world of politics and diplomacy on the national and international levels".

  "Firstly, promoting moral truth means acting responsibly on the basis of factual knowledge. ... When parties rise above their own particular view of events, they acquire an objective and comprehensive vision. Those who are called to resolve such disputes are able to make just decisions and promote genuine reconciliation when they grasp and acknowledge the full truth of a specific question.

  "A second way", he added, "consists in deconstructing political ideologies which would supplant the truth. The tragic experiences of the twentieth century have laid bare the inhumanity which follows from the suppression of truth and human dignity. ... In this sense, speaking to the United Nations General Assembly, I called attention to attempts in some quarters to reinterpret the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by giving satisfaction to particular interests which would compromise the Declaration's inner unity and move away from its original intent".

  "Thirdly, promoting moral truth in public life calls for a constant effort to base positive law upon the ethical principles of natural law. An appeal to the latter was once considered self-evident, but the tide of positivism in contemporary legal theory requires the restatement of this important axiom. Individuals, communities and States, without guidance from objectively moral truths, would become selfish and unscrupulous and the world a more dangerous place to live"

  "When the policies we support are enacted in harmony with the natural law proper to our common humanity, then our actions become more sound and conducive to an environment of understanding, justice and peace", the Pope concluded.

  The ceremony over, the Holy Father travelled five kilometres by car to St. Maron primary school to meet with the Catholic community of Cyprus.


VATICAN CITY, 5 JUN 2010 (VIS) - At 10.45 a.m. today, the Holy Father met with the Catholic community of Cyprus, which is some 25,000 strong, on the sports field of St. Maron primary school in the island's capital city of Nicosia.

  "As the Successor of Peter, I stand among you today to offer you the assurance of my support, my affectionate prayers and my encouragement".

  "You", Benedict XVI told the faithful, "are called to live your faith in the world by adding your voices and actions to the promotion of the Gospel values handed down to you by generations of Cypriot Christians. These values, deeply embedded in your own culture as well as in the patrimony of the universal Church, should continue to inspire your efforts to promote peace, justice and respect for human life and the dignity of your fellow citizens. In this way, your fidelity to the Gospel will surely benefit all Cypriot society".

  He also highlighted the importance of "the search for greater unity in charity with other Christians and dialogue with those who are not Christians. ... Given your circumstances, you are able to make your personal contribution to the goal of greater Christian unity in your daily lives. Let me encourage you to do so, confident that the Spirit of the Lord, Who prayed that His followers might be one, will accompany you in this important task.

  "With regard to inter-religious dialogue", he added, "much still needs to be done throughout the world. This is another area where Catholics in Cyprus often live in circumstances which afford them opportunities for right and prudent action. Only by patient work can mutual trust be built, the burden of history overcome, and the political and cultural differences between peoples become a motive to work for deeper understanding. I urge you to help create such mutual trust between Christians and non-Christians as a basis for building lasting peace and harmony between peoples of different religions, political regions and cultural backgrounds".

  "I encourage you to pray for and to foster vocations to the priesthood and religious life. As this Year for Priests draws to a close, the Church has gained a renewed awareness of the need for good, holy and well-formed priests. She needs men and women religious completely committed to Christ and to the spread of God's reign on earth".

  The Holy Father then turned to address those who work in the island's Catholic schools, especially teachers. "Your work", he said, "is part of a long and esteemed tradition of the Catholic Church in Cyprus. Continue patiently to serve the good of the whole community by striving for educational excellence. May the Lord bless you abundantly in the sacred trust which is the formation of almighty God's most precious gift to us - our children".

  The Holy Father concluded with a greeting to the young people present. "Be strong in your faith, joyful in God's service and generous with your time and talents! Help to build a better future for the Church and for your country in placing the good of others before your own".

  At the end of the event, and before moving on the Orthodox archbishopric to meet with His Beatitude Chrysostomos II, the Pope watched a show and listened to songs performed by some of the children.
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VATICAN CITY, 5 JUN 2010 (VIS) - Shortly after midday today Benedict XVI arrived at the Orthodox archbishopric in Nicosia to pay a courtesy visit to His Beatitude Chrysostomos II, archbishop of New Justiniana and All Cyprus.

  The Orthodox Church of Cyprus has always remained independent, playing an important role in the island's political life. Its activity in the war of independence against the Turks cost it dear as, in 1825, a large part of the Cypriot clergy, including the entire hierarchy, were massacred for their suspected support for the Greek revolution. During the period of British domination (1878-1958), the Cypriot Church was actively committed to the struggle for independence, which the island achieved in 1960 when Archbishop Makarios was elected as president of the fledgling republic.

  Following the Turkish invasion of 1974, more than 170,000 Cypriot citizens (almost a third of the then population) became refugees in their own homeland. More than five hundred churches, chapels and monasteries (Catholic, Maronite, Armenian and Orthodox) were occupied or destroyed. Since 1974, Turkey has transferred some 160,000 colonists to northern Cyprus.

  The Orthodox Church of Cyprus has been a member of the World Council of Churches since 1948 and participates actively in various inter-confessional and inter-religious meetings in the Middle East and Europe. The Middle East Council of Churches has its headquarters in Cyprus.

  On his arrival at the archbishopric, Benedict XVI was received by His Beatitude Chrysostomos II and visited the monument to Archbishop Makarios and the cathedral. He then pronounced an address which he began by recalling Archbishop Chrysostomos' 2007 visit to Rome, during which a Joint Declaration was published testifying to the fraternal relations between the Catholic Church and the Cypriot Orthodox Church.

  The Holy Father also expressed his gratitude for the hospitality and support which the Church of Cyprus offered to the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue when it met last year in Paphos.

  "May the Holy Spirit guide and confirm this great ecclesial undertaking, which aims at restoring full and visible communion between the Churches of East and West, a communion to be lived in fidelity to the Gospel and the apostolic tradition, esteem for the legitimate traditions of East and West, and openness to the diversity of gifts by which the Spirit builds up the Church in unity, holiness and peace", he said.

  The Pope also thanked the Cypriot Orthodox Church for their aid to victims of the earthquake that struck the Italian city of L'Aquila last year. Then, in a "spirit of fraternity and communion", he expressed the hope "that all the inhabitants of Cyprus, with God's help, will find the wisdom and strength needed to work together for a just settlement of issues remaining to be resolved, to strive for peace and reconciliation, and to build for future generations a society distinguished by respect for the rights of all, including the inalienable rights to freedom of conscience and freedom of worship.

  "Cyprus", he added, "is traditionally considered part of the Holy Land, and the situation of continuing conflict in the Middle East must be a source of concern to all Christ's followers. No one can remain indifferent to the need to support in every way possible the Christians of that troubled region, so that its ancient Churches can live in peace and flourish. The Christian communities of Cyprus can find a most fruitful area for ecumenical co-operation in praying and working together for peace, reconciliation and stability in the lands blessed by the earthly presence of the Prince of Peace".

  Having completed his remarks, the Holy Father visited the archbishopric's museum of icons, then had lunch with Archbishop Chrysostomos.
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VATICAN CITY, 5 JUN 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father, through Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B., has sent the following English-language telegram of condolence to Archbishop Antonio Lucibello, apostolic nuncio to Turkey, for the death of Bishop Luigi Padovese O.F.M. Cap., apostolic vicar of Anatolia and president of the Turkish Episcopal Conference. Bishop Padovese was murdered in the Turkish city of Iskanderun on Thursday.

  "Deeply saddened by the murder of Bishop Luigi Padovese, apostolic vicar of Anatolia, the Holy Father asks you kindly to convey his heartfelt condolences and the assurance of his closeness in prayer to the bishops, priests, religious and lay faithful of the Church in Turkey. He joins all of you in commending the noble soul of this beloved pastor to the infinite mercy of God our Father and in giving thanks for the selfless witness to the Gospel and resolute commitment to dialogue and reconciliation which characterized his priestly life and episcopal ministry. United with all who mourn Bishop Padovese in the hope which draws its certainty from the resurrection, His Holiness cordially imparts his apostolic blessing as a pledge of consolation and strength in our Lord Jesus Christ".
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VATICAN CITY, 5 JUN 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Bishop Julio Hernando Garcia Pelaez, auxiliary of Cali, Colombia, as bishop of Istmina - Tado (area 22,240, population 214,500, Catholics 201,000, priests 68, religious 109), Colombia. He succeeds Bishop Alonso Llano Ruiz, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Fr. Robert Dodaro O.S.A., director of the "Augustinianum" Patristic Institute in Rome, as a consultor of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
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