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Thursday, April 14, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 14 APR 2011 (VIS) - At midday today Benedict XVI received in audience the bishops and faithful of the Maronite Church, on the occasion of the ecclesiastical communion of their new patriarch, Bechara Boutros Rai on 24 March.

  The Pope emphasised at the beginning of his address that this was the first visit to the Successor of Peter by the patriarch Rai since his election to the patriarchal see of Antioch of the Maronites.

  Referring to the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East (October 2010), the Pope underlined that on that occasion it was necessary "to reiterate many times the urgency of proposing the Gospel to those who do not know it well or have moved away from the Church. With all the vital force present in Lebanon and the Middle East, I know you will make efforts to announce, to bear witness to and to live in communion this Word of life in order to rediscover the enthusiasm of the first Christians".

  "This region of the world which the patriarchs, prophets, apostles and Christ Himself blessed with their presence and their teaching, aspires to the lasting peace that the Word of Truth, welcomed and shared, is able to establish".

  The Holy Father went on to speak about the education of young people, expressing his wish that the patriarch's "role in their formation be better recognised by society, in order that fundamental values be transmitted without discrimination, and to ensure that the youth of today become responsible men and women within their families and society at large, to build greater solidarity and fraternity between the members of the nation. Transmit to the young all my esteem and affection, reminding them that the Church and society need their enthusiasm and hope".

  "Therefore", he concluded, "I invite you to intensify your efforts in the formation of priests and the many young people called to the Lord within your eparchies and in your  religious congregations. By their teaching and their existence, may they be authentic witnesses to the Word of God, to help the faithful anchor their lives and their mission in Christ!"
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