July 11, 2007
Papal Address to Orthodox Archbishop of Cyprus
"The Lord Has Not Ceased to Guide Our Steps"
VATICAN CITY, JULY 5, 2007 ( Zenit.org ).- Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered during the June 16 visit of Chrysostomos II, Orthodox archbishop of New Justiniana and All Cyprus.
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VISIT OF HIS BEATITUDE CHRYSOSTOMOS II
ARCHBISHOP OF NEW JUSTINIANA AND ALL CYPRUS
TO HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
Saturday, 16 June 2007
ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
Your Beatitude and Dear Brother,
I welcome you today with joy, hearing the words of the Apostle ring out in my heart: "May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom 15:5-6).
Your visit is a gift of the God of steadfastness and encouragement of which St Paul speaks, addressing those who heard the message of salvation for the first time in Rome. Today, we are experiencing the gift of perseverance because, despite the presence of centuries-old divisions, diverging paths and the effort required in stitching up grievious wounds, the Lord has not ceased to guide our steps on the path of unity and reconciliation. And for all of us this is a cause of consolation because our meeting today is part of an ever more intense process in the search of that full communion so longed for by Christ: "ut omnes unum sint" (cf. Jn 17:21).
We know well that adherence to the Lord's ardent desire cannot and must not be proclaimed solely in words or in a purely formal manner. For this reason, Your Beatitude, in following in the footsteps of the Apostle to the Gentiles, you did not come from Cyprus to Rome merely for an "exchange of ecumenical courtesy", but rather to reaffirm your firm decision to persevere in praying to the Lord to show us how to achieve full communion. At the same time, your visit is a cause of intense joy, for in our encounters we have already been granted to sample the beauty of the desired full Christian unity.
Thank you, Your Beatitude, for this gesture of esteem and brotherly friendship. In you, I greet the Pastor of an ancient and illustrious Church, a shining tessera of that bright mosaic, the East, which, to use a favourite phrase of the Servant of God John Paul II of venerable memory, constitutes one of the two lungs with which the Church breathes.
Your appreciated presence reminds me of the fervent preaching of St Paul in Cyprus (cf. Acts 13:4ff.) and the adventurous voyage which brought him to Rome, where he proclaimed the same Gospel and sealed his luminous witness of faith with martyrdom.
Does not the memory of the Apostle to the Gentiles perhaps invite us to turn our hearts with humility and hope to Christ, who is our one Teacher?
With his divine help we must not tire of seeking together the ways of unity, overcoming those difficulties which in the course of history have given rise to divisions and reciprocal diffidence among Christians. May the Lord grant us that we may soon be able to approach the same altar, to partake together of the one Banquet of the Eucharistic Bread and Wine.
In welcoming you, dear Brother in the Lord, I would like to pay homage to the ancient and venerable Church of Cyprus, rich in saints, among whom I would like to remember in particular Barnabas, a companion and collaborator of the Apostle Paul, and Epiphanius, Bishop of Constantia, once called Salamis, today Famagusta.
Epiphanius, who exercised his episcopal ministry for 35 years in a turbulent period for the Church because of the Arian revival and the controversies of the "Pneumatomachians", wrote works with a clear catechetical and apologetic intention, as he himself explained in his Ancoratus.
This interesting treatise contains two Creeds, the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed and the Creed of the Baptismal Tradition of Constantia, which corresponds to the Nicene faith but is differently formulated and amplified and "more suited", Epiphanius himself pointed out, "to combating the errors that arise because it conforms to that [faith] determined by the aforementioned Holy Fathers" of the Nicean Council (Ancoratus, n. 119). In it, he explained, we affirm our faith in the "holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, the perfect Spirit. The Spirit Consoler, not created, who proceeds from the Father and comes from the Son, the object of our faith" (ibid.).
As a good Pastor, Epiphanius pointed out to the flock entrusted to him by Christ, the truth in which to believe, the way to take and the pitfalls to avoid.
This is a method for proclaiming the Gospel that is also effective today, especially to the new generations strongly influenced by currents of thought contrary to the Gospel spirit. At the beginning of this Third Millennium, the Church finds herself facing challenges and problems not at all unlike those which Bishop Epiphanius had to tackle.
It was as necessary then as it is now to be on the alert in order to put the People of God on their guard against false prophets and the errors and superficiality of proposals that are not in conformity with the teaching of the divine Teacher, our one Saviour.
At the same time, it is urgently necessary to find a new language in which to proclaim the faith that brings us together, a shared language, a spiritual language that can transmit faithfully the revealed truths and thereby help us to reconstruct, in truth and charity, communion among all members of the one Body of Christ.
This need, for which we are all aware, impels us to persevere without being discouraged in the theological dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church as a whole. It leads us to using effective and permanent instruments to ensure that the search for communion is not interrupted or sporadic in our Churches' life and mission.
As we face the immense task expected of us, whose implementation is far beyond human capacities, we must entrust ourselves first of all to prayer. This does not mean that it is not only right to have recourse, today as well, to every effective human means that can serve this purpose.
In this perspective, I consider your visit a particularly useful initiative for enabling us to progress towards the unity desired by Christ. We know that this unity is a gift and fruit of the Holy Spirit; but we also know that it requires at the same time a constant effort, enlivened by a sure will and steadfast hope in the power of the Lord.
Thank you, therefore, Your Beatitude, for coming to pay me a visit, together with the brothers who have accompanied you; thank you for this presence, which gives concrete expression to the desire to seek full communion together.
For my part, I assure you that I share in this same desire, sustained by firm hope. Yes, "may the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus".
Thus, let us turn confidently to the Lord, so that he may guide our footsteps on the path of peace, joy and love.