By Junno Arocho

ROME, NOV. 19, 2012 ( Pope Benedict XVI sent a message to His Holiness Tawadros II on the occasion of his enthronement as Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of Saint Mark. The Holy Father entrusted Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, to deliver the well-wishes to the new head of the Coptic Orthodox Church.

"May the Almighty grant Your Holiness abundant spiritual gifts to strengthen you in your new ministry, as you guide the clergy and laity along the paths of holiness, for the good of your people and the peace and harmony of the whole of society," the Pope said.

Recalling the late Pope Shenouda III, Pope Benedict conveyed his assurance that Pope Tawadros II would continue his predecessor's work in furthering religious dialogue between the Churches. His concern for improving relations with other Christian Churches, the Holy Father said, "reinforces our hope that one day all the followers of Christ will find themselves united in that love and reconciliation which the Lord so earnestly desires (cf. Jn 17:21)."

"Your Holiness, I pray that the Holy Spirit will sustain you in your ministry, so that the flock entrusted to your care may experience the teaching of the Good Shepherd. May they be blessed with the serenity to offer their valuable contribution to the good of society and the well-being of all their fellow-citizens."

Pope Benedict XVI also expressed his desire that the Catholic Church and the Coptic Orthodox Church would continue to "grow closer, not only in a fraternal spirit of collaboration, but also through a deepening of the theological dialogue that will enable us to grow in communion and to bear witness before the world to the saving truth of the Gospel."

The Holy Father concluded his message assuring Pope Tawadros II of his prayers and personal good wishes.