Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Pope sends Christmas greetings to the Eastern Orthodox Churches

Benedict XVI expressed his best wishes to the Churches of the East, which - according to the Julian calendar - celebrate Christmas tomorrow. Among the Eastern Churches, only the Armenian Apostolic Church celebrates the birth of Jesus. 

Speaking today before praying the Angelus with pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square, the Pope turned to the Churches of the East with his "warmest wishes of peace, with a special remembrance in prayer" for " the joy of the common faith. "

The Catholic Church - which follows the Gregorian calendar, today celebrates the Epiphany, the manifestation of Christ to the pagan peoples, symbolized by the Wise Men. "This slight difference - explained the pope - which is superimposes the two moments, highlights that the child, born in the humility of the cave of Bethlehem, is the light of the world, which directs the path of all peoples. It is an approach that makes us think from the point of view of faith: on the one hand, at Christmas, in front of Jesus, we see the faith of Mary, Joseph and the shepherds, and today, the Epiphany, the faith of the Wise Men, coming from afar to worship the King of the Jews. "

"The Virgin Mary, along with her husband, are the" strain "of Israel, the" rest "foretold by the prophets, from the Messiah which was to sprout. The Wise Men instead represent the people, and we can say the civilizations, cultures , religions that are, so to speak, on the path to God, seeking his kingdom of peace, justice, truth and freedom. "

"Mary's faith - he added - can be compared to that of Abraham is the new beginning of the same promise, the same unchangeable plan of God, that now finds its fulfillment in Jesus Christ. And the light of Christ is so clear and strong that it is intelligible in the language of the cosmos, as well as that of the Scriptures, so that all those who, like the Wise men, are open to the truth may come to recognize and contemplate the Savior of the world. "

The pontiff apologized to pilgrims because he reached his study and started the Angelus with a delay of 15 minutes, because of the Eucharistic celebration in St. Peter's Basilica, where he ordained four bishops: Msgr. Georg Gänswein, his private secretary, appointed Prefect of the Pontifical Household, Msgr. Angelo Vincenzo Zani, who was appointed Secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education, Msgr. Fortunatus Nwachukwu, Nigeria, who will be posted Apostolic Nuncio in Nicaragua, Msgr. Nicolas Henry Marie Denis Thevenin, the new nuncio to Guatemala.

Benedict XVI has asked everyone to pray "for each of them for their ministry, and that the light of Christ shine in the whole world." In his greetings in different languages, Benedict XVI greeted the relatives and friends of the new bishops, who came to Rome.

The pope also recalled that on the feast of Epiphany the Church celebrates the Day of the Holy Childhood, "for children who are committed to spreading the Gospel and to concretely helping their peers who need it most." "Dear children - he added - I thank you and encourage you: bring the love of God to all."

The Epiphany has always had a missionary and universal dimension. In his greetings in Polish, Benedict XVI asked the faithful to live even the processions of the Magi, a tradition in northern Europe like a mission. "I salute - he said - the participants in the procession of the Magi who, following the example of the Magi of the East mentioned in the Gospel, walk the streets of many cities spiritually directed to Bethlehem in search of the Savior. This representation strengthens believers, draws those who have distanced themselves from the Church closer and helps those seeking God to fine Him. I cordially bless the participants of processions and all of you. "

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