PAPHOS, Cyprus, JUNE 4, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Unity among Christians is possible, especially between Catholics and the Orthodox Churches, says Benedict XVI.
The Pope said this today during an ecumenical celebration at the archeological area of the Church of Agia Kiriaki Chrysopolitiss, on the first day of his three-day trip the majority-Orthodox island.
After the welcome ceremony at the International Airport of Paphos, the Pontiff traveled directly to the Church of Agia Kiriaki Chrysopolitiss to participate in an ecumenical celebration with Cypriot Orthodox Archbishop Chrysostomos II and other leaders of Christian faiths, such as Armenians, Lutherans and Anglicans.
“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 said. “The Lord prayed for the holiness and unity of his disciples precisely so that the world might believe.”
During the open air event, which took place beside the Orthodox church, also known as the Church of the Pillar of St. Paul, the Holy Father noted the progress of ecumenism in recent years.
He explained: “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.”
Benedict XVI called the church in Cyprus “a bridge between East and West,” and noted its contribution “this process of reconciliation.”
“The path leading to the goal of full communion will certainly not be without its difficulties,” he continued, “yet the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church of Cyprus are committed to advancing in the way of dialogue and fraternal cooperation.”
The Cypriot Orthodox Archbishop, Chrysostomos II, also gave an address in which he welcomed Benedict XVI to Cyprus, the “island of saints and martyrs,” and “founded by the Apostles Barnabas, Paul and Mark.”
“It was in this town that the first miracle of the Apostles was performed, as recorded in the New Testament,” the archbishop recalled. “It was here that the first European citizen was baptized in the name of the Holy Trinity.
“It was here that the first official citadel of idolatry fell and in its place the glory of the Cross was raised in all its splendor, and would gradually spread to cover the whole of Europe and shape its historical future.”
“It is here,” he continued, “that the Christian roots of Europe took seed and from here its spiritual shoots first burst forth. The foundations of the edifice of Christian civilization in Europe were laid on this very spot where we now stand, deeply moved by the sense of history.
“It is for this reason that Cyprus is justly called ‘the Gate of Christianity in Europe.'”
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On ZENIT’s Web site:
Benedict XVI’s address: www.zenit.org/article-29471?l=english
Archbishop Archbishop Chrysostomos II’s address: www.zenit.org/article-29473?l=english