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Pope recaps trip to Cyprus, appeals for Christians in the Middle East

Catholic World News - June 09, 2010

Pope Benedict XVI devoted his weekly public audience on June 9 to a recap of his trip the previous weekend to Cyprus, adding a look forward to the October meeting of the Synod of Bishops, which will discuss the Middle East.

– The Pope told the crowd in a sun-drenched St. Peter's Square that his trip had filled three purposes: encouraging the small Catholic community of Cyprus, encouraging ecumenical progress, and reaching out to all the peoples of the Middle East. He praised the vigor of the local Catholic churches, both Maronite and Latin. And he thanked the Orthodox Archbishop Chrysostomos II for his hospitality, saying that the Orthodox prelate was living proof that "rootedness in tradition does not prevent the Orthodox community from being firmly committed to ecumenical dialogue together with the Catholic community."

Pope Benedict reminded his audience that the highlight of his trip was the release of the working document for the October Synod. He underlined the importance of preserving a vigorous Christian presence in that troubled region. During his trip to Cyprus, he said, "I made a heartfelt appeal to all the Catholics of the Middle East, despite their great trials and the difficulties they notoriously face, not to give in to discouragement and the temptation to emigrate, because their presence in the region represents an irreplaceable sign of hope."

The October Synod will take up the same question, the Pope said, reminding all the world's Christians that the Middle East "occupies a special place" for believers, as the place "where God made Himself known to our fathers in the faith." The Synod, he continued, would also address the "situations of suffering and conflict" that still plague the region.

At the conclusion of his remarks the Pope called attention to the closing of the Year for Priests. Nearly 10,000 priests from around the world have already gathered in Rome for the final observances, with thousands more expected for Friday's closing Mass. "I invite everyone to participate in this event in their prayers," the Pontiff said.

The Holy Father mentioned one model of priestly ministry when he addressed the Polish pilgrims in the crowd. Recalling the recent beatification of Father Jerzy Popieluszko, he said that the martyred chaplain of the Solidarity movement, he said that the "taught love and solidarity with those in need of spiritual or material support."

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