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. "
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. "
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. "
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. "
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,
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.
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.
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
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. "