Benedict XVI Calls Pauline Year a Pilgrimage

Says Apostle Is Leading Faithful to Christ

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 23, 2008 ( Though 2008 was marked by many anniversaries in the Church, the 2,000th anniversary of the birth of St. Paul is not just a celebration of a past event, says Benedict XVI.

The Pope affirmed this Monday when he delivered his annual address to prelates and the Roman Curia in their traditional exchange of Christmas greetings. The Holy Father pointed to the highlights of 2008, including World Youth Day in Australia and the October world Synod of Bishops.

He also recalled certain anniversaries in 2008, including 50 years since the death of Pope Pius XII and the election of Pope John XXIII, as well as 40 years since the publication of «Humanae Vitae» and 30 years since the death of its author, Pope Paul VI.

Regarding the Pauline Jubilee Year — which Benedict XVI launched on June 28, 2008, and which will run through June 29, 2009 — he said that it is more than a recollection, since «the gaze of the memory has gone further back than the events of the last century and precisely in this way, it has directed us toward the future.»

«Paul is not, for us, a figure of the past,» the Pope affirmed. «Through his letters, he still speaks to us today. And one who enters in dialogue with him is moved by him toward Christ crucified and risen.»

The Pauline year, he continued » is a year of pilgrimage, not only in the external sense of a journey to the Pauline sites, but rather also, and above all, a pilgrimage of the heart, together with Paul, toward Jesus Christ.»

The Holy Father highlighted the ecumenical importance of the anniversary, and recalled that in the inauguration ceremony in St. Paul’s Outside the Walls, Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople and other representatives of Churches and Christian communities were present.

«Certainly,» he stated, «Paul teaches us also that the Church is the body of Christ, that the head and the body are inseparable and that there cannot be love for Christ without love for his Church and its living community.»

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