VATICAN CITY, JUNE 9, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI today reviewed his trip to Cyprus, saying he returned to the Vatican last Sunday with “a spirit brimming with gratitude to God and with sincere sentiments of affection and esteem for the inhabitants of Cyprus, by whom I felt welcomed and understood.”
The Pope made a three-day apostolic journey to the island last week for what was his 16th international trip.
At today’s general audience, (as is his custom when returning from an apostolic visit), he reflected on some of the highlights of the trip.
“Already in itself it constituted a historic event,” he said. “In fact, never before had a Bishop of Rome gone to that blessed land, site of the apostolic work of St. Paul and St. Barnabas, traditionally considered part of the Holy Land.”
The Holy Father said the “culminating moment” of the journey was the presentation of the working document for the upcoming synod on the Middle East. The synod will be held in Rome this October.
He noted how the theme of the synod focuses on “communion and openness to hope.”
“This important event is designed in fact as a gathering of the Catholic community of that area, in its different rites, but at the same time as a renewed search for dialogue and courage for the future,” the Pontiff explained. “Hence, it will be supported by the prayerful affection of the whole Church, in whose heart the Middle East occupies a special place, inasmuch as it is precisely there that God made himself known to our fathers in the faith. However, attention from other individuals of world society will not be lacking, specifically of protagonists in public life, called to work with constant commitment so that the region will be able to overcome the situations of suffering and conflict that still afflict it and finally rediscover peace in justice.”
The Bishop of Rome guaranteed Christians of the Middle East “the affectionate and intense solidarity of the whole Church, as well as incessant prayer that the Lord will help them to always be a lively and peacemaking presence.”
Benedict XVI characterized his Friday stop in Paphos as feeling “enveloped by an atmosphere that seemed almost like the perceptible synthesis of 2,000 years of Christian history.”
At an ecumenical celebration that day, with Orthodox Archbishop Chrysostomos II and representatives of the Armenian, Lutheran and Anglican communities, “we fraternally renewed our reciprocal and irreversible ecumenical commitment,” he recalled.
Saturday’s visit to the capital of the island brought “an appeal to reason, based on ethical principles and charged with exacting implications for today’s society, which often no longer recognizes the cultural tradition on which it is founded.”
This is how the Pope described the talk he gave to civil authorities and the diplomatic corps, stressing “the importance of founding positive law on the ethical principles of natural law, in order to promote moral truth in public life.”
As well, the Holy Father reflected on his meeting with the Catholic community of Cyprus, in its Maronite and Latin components, saying that he was able “to see firsthand the apostolic fervor of Cypriot Catholics.”
“To all, Latins and Maronites,” he said, “I assured my remembrance in prayer, encouraging them to witness to the Gospel also through the patient work of reciprocal trust between Christians and non-Christians, to build lasting peace and harmony between peoples.”
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