MARONITES: TREASURE YOUR INHERITANCE AS A PRECIOUS GIFT
VATICAN CITY, 6 JUN 2010 (VIS) - At 4.30 p.m. today the Holy Father visited the Maronite cathedral of Cyprus, which is dedicated to Our Lady of Grace.
The cathedral, consecrated in 1960, was built with funds collected from the faithful and a donation from the Cypriot government.
Having been greeted by Archbishop Joseph Soueif of Cyprus of the Maronites, the Pope delivered his address. "As I visit this building", he said, "in my heart I make a spiritual pilgrimage to every Maronite church of the island. Be assured that, moved by a father's care, I am close to all the faithful of those ancient communities.
"This cathedral church in some way represents the very long and rich - and sometimes turbulent - history of the Maronite community in Cyprus", he added. "Maronites came to these shores at various times throughout the centuries and were often hard-pressed to remain faithful to their distinct Christian heritage. Nevertheless, in spite of their faith being tested like gold in a fire, they remained constant in the faith of their fathers, a faith which has now been passed on to you, the Maronite Cypriots of today. I urge you to treasure this great inheritance, this precious gift".
The Holy Father went on: "This cathedral building also reminds us of an important spiritual truth. St. Peter tells us that we Christians are the living stones which are being 'built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ'. Together with Christians throughout the world, we are part of that great temple which is the mystical Body of Christ. Our spiritual worship, offered in many tongues, in many places and in a beautiful variety of liturgies, is an expression of the one voice of the People of God, united in praise and thanksgiving to him and in enduring communion with each other. This communion, which we hold so dear, impels us to carry the Good News of our new life in Christ to all mankind.
"Commending you and your families, and especially your beloved children to the intercession of St. Maron, I willingly impart to all of you my apostolic blessing", he concluded.
Following the Holy Father's words, His Beatitude Cardinal Nasrallah Pierre Sfeir, patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites, Lebanon, prayed the prayer of forgiveness in the Syriac rite, followed by a hymn of invocation to the Virgin. Benedict XVI then travelled by car to the airport at Larnaca.