Pope Voices Esteem for Churches in the East

Affirms Traditions Are to Be Treasured

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AMMAN, Jordan, MAY 9, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Eastern Churches offer a treasure of avenues to bring others to Christ through their ancient living traditions, says Benedict XVI.

In a homily delivered today at the celebration of Vespers in the Greek-Melkite Cathedral of St. George, the Pope addressed leaders of Catholic Churches in the Near East.

Among those present were Gregorios III Laham, the Greek Melkite Patriarch from Damascus, Emeritus Archbishop Georges El-Murr and Archbishop Yasser Ayyach of Petra and Philadelphia, and leaders from the Maronite, Syrian, Armenian, Chaldean and Latin Churches. Archbishop Benediktos Tsikoras of the Greek Orthodox Church was also in attendance.

The Holy Father expressed his sincere thanks for the “opportunity to pray with you and to experience something of the richness of our liturgical traditions.”

“The Church herself is a pilgrim people and thus, through the centuries, has been marked by determinant historical events and pervading cultural epochs,” the Pope remarked. “Sadly, some of these have included times of theological dispute or periods of repression.”

“Others, however, have been moments of reconciliation — marvelously strengthening the communion of the Church — and times of rich cultural revival, to which Eastern Christians have contributed so greatly,” he continued.

“Particular Churches,” the Pope explained, “within the universal Church attest to the dynamism of her earthly journey and manifest to all members of the faithful a treasure of spiritual, liturgical, and ecclesiastical traditions which point to God’s universal goodness and his will, seen throughout history, to draw all into his divine life.”

“The ancient living treasure of the traditions of the Eastern Churches enriches the universal Church and could never be understood simply as objects to be passively preserved,” added the Pontiff. “All Christians are called to respond actively to the Lord’s mandate — as St. George did in dramatic ways according to popular record — to bring others to know and love him.”

The Holy Father closed the event by expressing “sentiments of great respect for all of you gathered with me this evening in worship,” and his gratitude for their prayers and the assurance of his own prayers for those entrusted to their pastoral care.

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On ZENIT’s Web page:

Full text of Pope’s address: www.zenit.org/article-25839?l=english

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