Saturday, August 30, 2008

Chrysostomos II's Address to Benedict XVI: "We Want You Beside Us!"

"We Want You Beside Us!"

VATICAN CITY, JULY 5, 2007 ( Here is a Vatican translation of the address delivered by Chrysostomos II, Orthodox archbishop of New Justiniana and all Cyprus, during his June 16 visit to Benedict XVI.

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Saturday, 16 June 2007


"To all God's beloved in Rome, who are called to be saints: grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom 1: 7).

Your Holiness, Pope of Ancient Rome and Bishop of the historical Chair of the Blessed Apostle Peter,

The grace of the Holy Spirit and our duty as Archbishop-Primate of the Most Holy Martyr Church of the Holy Apostle Barnabas for the unity and peace of our Apostolic Churches, have guided our footsteps here today, together with our reverend entourage. We have come to the place of the martyrdom of the Coryphaei of the Apostles, Peter and Paul, the shrine of the Catacombs of the martyrs of our common faith, to meet you, the one among the Bishops who holds the primacy of honour of undivided Christianity, to give you the fraternal kiss of peace and, after a non-fraternal journey down the centuries, to build new bridges of reconciliation, collaboration and love!

This is our third meeting after the unforgettable funeral of your beloved Predecessor Pope John Paul II, of blessed memory, and the joyful ceremony of your own elevation to this Apostolic Throne. The whole of the Christian Ecumene looks with great hopes to this throne, awaiting gestures of dialogue, re-pacification, rapprochement and love from the wise theologian, the tireless pastor, the dynamic ecclesiastical leader who presides over it. In this regard, the development of the official theological dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church -- in which our Apostolic Church of Cyprus takes part, with responsibility and coherence -- is of paramount importance.

Our eyes will perhaps not be able to see the longed for unity of the Church, but with the grace of the Holy Spirit we will have done our duty in time and space as peacemakers and true brothers "ut omnes unum sint".

Furthermore, it is our personal conviction that since the drifting apart of our Sister Churches and the schism between them took place over so many centuries of accumulated misunderstandings, so their reunification and the re-establishment of mutual trust and true love between them will need time, patience and sacrifices.

Yet, with an awareness of our great responsibility, we take it upon ourselves to bring this task to completion "in truth and charity" under the infallible guidance of God's life-giving Spirit.

Our meeting today is felicitously taking place on the eve of the 35th anniversary of the beginning of official diplomatic relations between the Holy See and the Republic of Cyprus. Indeed, in 1973, after the encounter of the Ethnarch, Archbishop Makarios III, with Pope Paul VI in Castel Gandolfo, the representation of these two parties was entrusted respectively to the current Cardinal Pio Laghi, who was then titular Archbishop of Mauriana and Apostolic Delegate in Jerusalem and Palestine, and to H.E. Mr Polys ModinĂ²s, then Ambassador of Cyprus in Paris.

Your Holiness, allow me to mention here the first Ambassador of Cyprus to the Holy See, resident in Rome: our dear friend, H.E. Mr Georgios Poulides, and to thank him warmly for his devotion, respect and love for the Church, and his important and indispensable work.

In recent decades after the Second Vatican Council, some of our Cypriot theologians, clerics and lay people have done post lauream studies at various Pontifical Universities with scholarships awarded by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. We would therefore like to express our gratitude to you and likewise our own intention to offer as a minimal antidoron of gratitude, summer scholarships in Cyprus for Catholic theologians interested in learning modern Greek together with the liturgical riches of the Orthodox Church from close at hand, so that they in turn may one day contribute to the vision of the united Church.

Recently, Your Excellency, the President of the Republic of Cyprus, Mr Tassos Papadopoulos, said very gracefully: "Cyprus has always been Europe, even before Europe was established. With its entry into the European Union, Cyprus has come home". Yet, this common home of ours, Europe, the cradle of Western civilization, the glorious seat of the Christian spirit, the Mother of Saints and Missionaries, is passing through a period of crisis and confusion, of atheism and doubt, of secularization and decadence.

Society and the people of our time are thirsting and seeking. They have values and principles, traditions and customs that were formed in the light of the Gospel and under the wise guidance of the Fathers of the Church and of other ecclesiastical personalities, but are unable to recognize Christ's presence and the power of his soteriological message. They refuse to admit the fundamental importance of Europe's Christian roots: it is the hour of the Church and the new evangelization, the hour of the mission ad intra!

Yet, without the collaboration of the European Churches and our common Christian witness, it is certain that very little will have a positive outcome and that the many isolated efforts of the various Churches and Christian denominations will unfortunately be doomed to failure.

Instead of exercising a positive influence on the convinced European Christian, our globalized epoch seems to reject the historical ecumenicity of the Christian message and to marginalize its dynamic and effectiveness. Secularization, eudaemonism, the deification of technology and atheistic science confuse our neighbour and lead him inevitably to existential desperation. His anguished cry is heard: "Lord, to whom shall we go?" (Jn 6:68).

What, then, is our responsibility as spiritual fathers? What is our approach to spiritual care for our young people? Shall we succeed at last in protecting the sacred institution of the family? The sacredness of the human person, now defenceless in the face of medical research, abortion, euthanasia? And the oneness of God's creation which surrounds us and risks being destroyed irreparably by us?

The Orthodox path passes through spirituality, ascesis, fasting, the study of the texts of the Church Fathers who were inspired by God, the sense of the sacred and first and foremost the Divine Eucharist: these are our spiritual weapons and we wish to fight side by side with the Sister Church of Rome to transform European society, which is anthropocentric, into a Christocentric society with respect for our brethren of other religions, for immigrants, the poor, refugees and the weak of this earth.

Our presence here today, Your Holiness, is an appeal to you, the Pope who comes from a friendly country, traumatized by division for decades, like ours, but thanks be to God reunited. Therefore, you alone can understand how sad we feel! Our Homeland and Your Sister, the Apostolic Church of Cyprus, is suffering but is also persevering with dignity through the intercession of her saints and in particular the protection of her founder, the blessed Apostle Barnabas.

Human rights are trampled upon, monuments are destroyed, works of our spiritual patrimony become the object of international trade, and the division of the last European capital, Nicosia, seems doomed to continue. Will no one hear our just lament and raise their voices in protest to the powerful of the earth, who exploit Christ's Name but are deaf to the law of love?

Your Holiness,

We ask your support through the invincible weapons of brotherly prayer, but also through your fatherly cry for the defence of the inalienable rights of the Ancient and Apostolic Sister Church of Cyprus, this crossroads of peoples, religions, languages and civilizations of the Mediterranean and Middle East.

We want you beside us! Through us the Holy Apostle Barnabas invites his elder brother, the Blessed Apostle Peter, to make a first Visit to his humble home and to receive hospitality in it, to feel as though it were his own home and to bless it!

We await you, Your Holiness, as Bishop of the Roman See which presides in charity, in the Cyprus of dialogue, democracy, dignity, faith, monasticism, hospitality, monuments and works of art! May you deign to come to us and give us the opportunity to reciprocate your fraternal hospitality during these splendid days that we have spent in the Eternal City!

Your Holiness, with the intercession of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, Patrons of the Diocese of Rome, of the Holy Apostle Barnabas, Founder of the Church of Cyprus, and of the Holy Greeks Isapostolic Cyril and Methodius, Co-Patrons of Europe, we offer you our heartfelt good wishes for health, a long life and the illumination of the Holy Spirit for the success of your lofty mission as Pontiff-builder of bridges between peoples, religions and cultures.

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope" (Rom 15:13).

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