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Cyprus News Agency: News in English, 10-06-06

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From: The Cyprus News Agency at <>




    Pope Benedict XVI has made a personal appeal for an urgent and concerted international effort to resolve the ongoing tensions in the Middle East, before such conflicts lead to greater bloodshed.

    He made the reference after the Holy Mass at a crow-packed Eleftheria Stadium in Nicosia, in the presence of Patriarchs and Bishops from the Middle East, as well as representatives of their respective communities, Cyprus President Demetris Christofias, Archbishop Chrysostomos II and the islands religious and political leadership.

    The service included prayers in Greek from the Bible. The Pope blessed the congregation and prayed for peace and then proceeded with the Consignment of the Instrumentum Laboris of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops.

    In his speech during the Consignment of the Instrumentum Laboris, Pope Benedict thanked all for the work that has been accomplished already in anticipation of the Synodal Assembly, and I promise you the support of my prayers as you enter this final phase of preparation.

    Pope Benedict made a special reference to the late Bishop Luigi Padovese who, as President of the Turkish Catholic Bishops, contributed to the preparation of the Instrumentum Laboris.

    News of his unforeseen and tragic death on Thursday surprised and shocked all of us. I entrust his soul to the mercy of almighty God, mindful of how committed he was, especially as a bishop, to inter-religious and cultural understanding, and to dialogue between the Churches, said the Pope, adding his death is a sobering reminder of the vocation that all Christians share, to be courageous witnesses in every circumstance to what is good, noble and just.

    The motto chosen for the Assembly, said the Pope, speaks to us of communion and witness, and it reminds us how the members of the early Christian community were of one heart and soul. So it is not without significance that the date chosen for the Instrumentum Laboris of the Special Assembly to be consigned should be today.

    The Middle East has a special place in the hearts of all Christians, since it was there that God first made himself known to our fathers in faith, he said. Since then, the message of the Gospel has spread all over the world, but Christians everywhere continue to look to the Middle East with special reverence, on account of the prophets and patriarchs, apostles and martyrs to whom we owe so much, the men and women who heard Gods word, bore witness to it, and handed it onto us who belong to the great family of the Church.

    Pope Benedict said I pray that the work of the Special Assembly will help to focus the attention of the international community on the plight of those Christians in the Middle East who suffer for their beliefs, so that just and lasting solutions may be found to the conflicts that cause so much hardship.

    On this grave matter, he added, I reiterate my personal appeal for an urgent and concerted international effort to resolve the ongoing tensions in the Middle East, especially in the Holy Land, before such conflicts lead to greater bloodshed.

    The Pope also sent a message in Polish on the occasion of the beatification today of Jerzy Popieuszko. He said Father Jerzy Popieluszkos zealous service and his martyrdom are a special sign of the victory of good over evil``.

    Around 7.500 thousand people of all ages and nationalities, including Lebanese, Sri Lankan, the Philippines, India, Syria and Jordan packed the stadium while around 3-4 thousand thronged the area outside the Sports Centre where special arrangements were made, including giant television screens to broadcast the holy mass live.

    During his speech at the Holy Mass, the Pope extended a particular greeting to the Filipino, Sri Lankan and other immigrant communities who form such a significant grouping within the Catholic population of this island.

    I pray that your presence here will enrich the life and worship of the parishes to which you belong, and that you in turn will draw much spiritual sustenance from the ancient Christian heritage of the land that you have made your home, he said.

    Concluding, he said we are called to overcome our differences, to bring peace and reconciliation where there is conflict, to offer the world a message of hope.``

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