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Feast of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul 2008

Pope Benedict XVI's Homily at First Vespers
in the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls at the opening of the Pauline Year
Saturday 28 June 2009 - in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Your Holiness and Fraternal Delegates, Your Eminences,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood, Dear Brothers and Sisters,
We have gathered near the tomb of St Paul, who was born 2,000 years ago at Tarsus in Cilicia, in present-day Turkey. Who was St Paul? In the temple of Jerusalem, faced with the frenzied crowd that wanted to kill him, he presented himself with these words: "I am a Jew, born at Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city [Jerusalem] at the feet of Gamaliel, educated according to the strict manner of the law of our fathers, being zealous for God..." (Acts 22: 3). At the end of his journey he was to say of himself: "For this I was appointed a preacher and apostle... a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth" (1 Tm 2: 7; cf. 2 Tm 1: 11). A teacher of the Gentiles, an apostle and a herald of Jesus Christ, this is how he described himself, looking back over the path of his life. But this glance does not look only to the past. "A teacher of the Gentiles" - these words open to the future, to all peoples and all generations. For us Paul is not a figure of the past whom we remember with veneration. He is also our teacher, an Apostle and herald of Jesus Christ for us too.

Thus we are not gathered to reflect on past history, irrevocably behind us. Paul wants to speak to us - today. That is why I chose to establish this special "Pauline Year": in order to listen to him and learn today from him, as our teacher, "the faith and the truth" in which the reasons for unity among Christ's disciples are rooted. In this perspective, for this 2000th anniversary of the Apostle's birth I wished to light a special "Pauline Flame" that will remain lit throughout the year in a special brazier placed in the Basilica's four-sided portico. To solemnize this event I have also inaugurated the so-called "Pauline Door", through which I entered the Basilica, accompanied by the Patriarch of Constantinople, by the Cardinal Archpriest and by other religious Authorities. It is a cause of deep joy to me that the opening of the Pauline Year has acquired a special ecumenical character through the presence of numerous delegates and representatives of other Churches and Ecclesial Communities, whom I welcome with an open heart. I greet first of all His Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew I and the members of the Delegation that accompany him, as well as the large group of lay people who have come to Rome from various parts of the world to experience with him and with all of us these moments of prayer and reflection. I greet the Fraternal Delegates of the Churches which have special ties with the Apostle Paul - Jerusalem, Antioch, Cyprus, Greece - and which form the geographical environment of the Apostle's life before his arrival in Rome. I cordially greet the Brethren of the various Churches and Ecclesial Communities of the East and the West, together with all of you who have desired to take part in this solemn initiation of the "Year" dedicated to the Apostle to the Gentiles.

Thus, we are gathered here to question ourselves on the great Apostle to the Gentiles. Let us not ask ourselves only: who was Paul? Let us ask ourselves above all: who is Paul? What does he say to me? At this moment, at the beginning of the "Pauline Year" that we are inaugurating, I would like to choose from the rich testimony of the New Testament, three texts in which his inner features, his specific character appear. In the Letter to the Galatians, St Paul gives a very personal profession of faith in which he opens his heart to readers of all times and reveals what was the most intimate drive of his life. "I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me" (Gal 2: 20). All Paul's actions begin from this centre. His faith is the experience of being loved by Jesus Christ in a very personal way. It is awareness of the fact that Christ did not face death for something anonymous but rather for love of him - of Paul - and that, as the Risen One, he still loves him; in other words, Christ gave himself for him. Paul's faith is being struck by the love of Jesus Christ, a love that overwhelms him to his depths and transforms him. His faith is not a theory, an opinion about God and the world. His faith is the impact of God's love in his heart. Thus, this same faith was love for Jesus Christ.

Paul is presented by many as a pugnacious man who was well able to wield the sword of his words. Indeed, there was no lack of disputes on his journey as an Apostle. He did not seek a superficial harmony. In the First of his Letters, addressed to the Thessalonians, he himself says: "We had courage... to proclaim to you the Gospel of God in the face of great opposition... In fact, we never spoke words of adulation, as you know" (1 Thes 2: 2, 5). The truth was too great for him to be willing to sacrifice it with a view to external success. For him, the truth that he experienced in his encounter with the Risen One was well worth the fight, persecution and suffering. But what most deeply motivated him was being loved by Jesus Christ and the desire to communicate this love to others. Paul was a man capable of loving and all of his actions and suffering can only be explained on the basis of this core sentiment. It is only on this basis that we can understand the concepts on which his proclamation was founded. Let us take another key word of his: freedom. The experience of being loved to the very end by Christ had opened his eyes to the truth and to the way of human existence. It was an experience that embraced everything. Paul was free as a man loved by God, who, by virtue of God, was able to love together with him. This love then became the "law" of his life and in this very way, the freedom of his life. He speaks and acts motivated by the responsibility of love. Here freedom and responsibility are indivisibly united. Since Paul lives in the responsibility of love, he is free; since he is one who loves, he lives his life totally in the responsibility of this love and does not take freedom as a pretext to act arbitrarily and egoistically. In the same spirit Augustine formulated the phrase that later became famous: Dilige et quod vis fac (Tract. in 1 Jo 7, 7-8) - love and do what you please. The one who loves Christ as Paul loved him can truly do as he pleases because his love is united to Christ's will and thus with God's will; because his will is anchored to the truth and because his will is no longer merely his own, arbitrary to the autonomous self, but is integrated into God's freedom from which he receives the path to take.

In the search for the inner features of St Paul I would like, secondly, to recall the words that the Risen Christ addressed to him on the road to Damascus. First the Lord asked him: "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?". To the question: "Who are you, Lord?", Saul is given the answer: "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting" (Acts 9: 4f.). In persecuting the Church, Paul was persecuting Jesus himself. "You persecute me". Jesus identifies with the Church in a single subject. This exclamation of the Risen One, which transformed Saul's life, in summary already contains the entire doctrine on the Church as the Body of Christ. Christ did not withdraw himself into Heaven, leaving ranks of followers to carry out "his cause" on earth. The Church is not an association that desires to promote a specific cause. In her there is no question of a cause. In her it is a matter of the person of Jesus Christ, who, also as the Risen One, remained "flesh". He has "flesh and bones" (Lk 24: 39), the Risen One says, in Luke's Gospel, to the disciples who thought he was a ghost. He has a Body. He is personally present in his Church, "Head and Body" form one being, Augustine would come to say. "Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?" Paul wrote to the Corinthians (1 Cor 6: 15). And he added: just as, according to the book of Genesis, man and woman become one flesh, thus Christ and his followers become one spirit, that is, one in the new world of the Resurrection (cf. 1 Cor 6: 16ff.). In all of this the Eucharistic mystery appears, in which Christ continually gives his Body and makes of us his Body: "The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread" (1 Cor 10: 16f). With these words, at this moment, not only Paul addresses us but also the Lord himself: how could you pierce my body? Before the Face of Christ, these words become at the same time an urgent plea: Bring us together from all our divisions. Grant that this may once again become reality today: there is one bread, therefore we, although we are many, are one body. For Paul, the words about the Church as the body of Christ are not just any comparison. They go far beyond a comparison. "Why do you persecute me?". Christ ceaselessly draws us into his body, building his Body from the Eucharistic centre that for Paul is the centre of Christian existence by virtue of which everyone, as also every individual, can experience in a totally personal way: he has loved me and given himself for me.

I would like to conclude with words St Paul spoke near the end of his life. It is an exhortation to Timothy from prison while he was facing death, "with the strength that comes from God bear your share of hardship which the Gospel entails", the Apostle said to his disciple (2 Tm 1: 8). These words, which mark the end of the Apostle's life as a testament, refer back to the beginning of his mission. When, after his encounter with the Risen One, while Paul lay blind in his dwelling at Damascus, Ananias was charged to visit the feared persecutor and to lay his hands upon him so that he might regain his sight. Ananias' objection that this Saul was a dangerous persecutor of Christians, was met with the response: this man must carry my name before the Gentiles and kings: "I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name" (Acts 9: 15f.). The task of proclamation and the call to suffer for Christ's sake are inseparable. The call to become the teacher of the Gentiles is, at the same time and intrinsically, a call to suffering in communion with Christ who redeemed us through his Passion. In a world in which falsehood is powerful, the truth is paid for with suffering. The one who desires to avoid suffering, to keep it at bay, keeps life itself and its greatness at bay; he cannot be a servant of truth and thus a servant of faith. There is no love without suffering - without the suffering of renouncing oneself, of the transformation and purification of self for true freedom. Where there is nothing worth suffering for, even life loses its value. The Eucharist - the centre of our Christian being - is founded on Jesus' sacrifice for us; it is born from the suffering of love which culminated in the Cross. We live by this love that gives itself. It gives us the courage and strength to suffer with Christ and for him in this world, knowing that in this very way our life becomes great and mature and true. In the light of all St Paul's Letters, we see how the prophecy made to Ananias at the time of Paul's call came true in the process of teaching the Gentiles: "I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name". His suffering made him credible as a teacher of truth who did not seek his own advantage, his own glory or his personal satisfaction but applied himself for the sake of the One who loved us and has given himself for us all.

Let us now thank the Lord for having called Paul, making him the light to the Gentiles and the teacher of us all, and let us pray to him: "Give us even today witnesses of the Resurrection, struck by the impact of your love and able to bring the light of the Gospel in our time. St Paul, pray for us! Amen."

Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I's & Pope Benedict XVI's Homilies at Mass in St Peter's Basilica
for the Imposition of the Sacred Pallium on Metropolitan Archbishops
Sunday 29 June 2008 - in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

Bartholomew I's Homily

"Your Holiness,
We still feel the joy and emotion of Your Holiness' personal and blessed participation in the Patronal Feast of Constantinople on the memorial of the Apostle St Andrew, the First Called, in November 2006, we have come "with exultant steps" from the Phanar of the New Rome to visit you and share in your joy on the Patronal Feast of ancient Rome. And we come to you "in the fullness of the blessing of Christ's Gospel" (cf. Rm 15: 29), reciprocating honour and love, celebrating together with our beloved Brother in the land of the West, "the sure and inspired heralds, the Coriphaei of the Lord's Disciples", the Holy Apostles, Peter, the brother of Andrew, and Paul - these two immense central pillars of the entire Church, towering to Heaven, who made their last luminous profession of Christ in this historic city. Sanctifying it in the process, it was here that they gave up their souls to the Lord in martyrdom, one on the Cross and the other by the sword.

We therefore greet you, Your Holiness, our esteemed Brother, whom we have been looking forward to seeing, with very deep and devoted love on behalf of the Most Holy Church of Constantinople and her children scattered across the world. We wholeheartedly wish "all God's beloved in Rome" (Rm 1: 7) the enjoyment of good health, peace and prosperity, and hope that they may progress day and night towards salvation and be "aglow with the Spirit, to serve the Lord. Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer" (Rm 12: 11-12).

In both our Churches, Your Holiness, we duly honour and most deeply venerate the one who gave a saving confession of the divinity of Christ, Peter, as well as the chosen vessel, Paul, who proclaimed this confession and faith to the ends of the earth, amidst the most unimaginable difficulties and dangers. We have celebrated their memory on 29 June, since the Year of Salvation 258, in the West and in the East. During the days that precede this Feast, we in the East prepare for it observing a fast in their honour, in accordance with the tradition of the ancient church. In order to greater emphasize their equal value but also because of their importance in the Church and in her regenerating and saving work throughout the centuries, the East traditionally honours them with a common icon, in which they are either holding in their holy hands a small sailing ship which symbolizes the Church, or embracing one another, exchanging the kiss in Christ.

We have come to exchange this same kiss with you, Your Holiness, emphasizing the ardent desire in Christ and love for these things that affect us both closely.

Theological dialogue between our Churches "in faith, truth and love", thanks to divine assistance, is moving forward, beyond the considerable difficulties that exist and the known problems. We truly desire and pray for this: that these challenges may be overcome and that the issues may be resolved as quickly as possible so that we may reach the ultimate goal desired for the glory of God.

We know well that this is also your desire, as we are also certain that Your Holiness will never tire of working personally, together with your distinguished collaborators, smoothing the way perfectly, please God, to a positive completion of the work of the dialogue.

Your Holiness, we have proclaimed the year 2008 "The Year of the Apostle Paul", just as you have from today up to next year on completing the 2,000th anniversary of the Great Apostle. In the context of the respective events for the anniversary, in which we have also venerated the precise site of his martyrdom, we have planned, among other things, a sacred pilgrimage to several monuments to the Apostle's evangelical activities in the East, such as Ephesus, Perga, and other cities in Asia Minor, but also to Rhodes and Crete, to the port known as "Fair Havens". You may be sure, Your Holiness, that on this sacred journey, you too will be present, accompanying us in spirit, and that in each place we will offer a fervent prayer for you and for our brethren of the venerable Roman Catholic Church, addressing to the Lord through the divine Paul a powerful supplication and intercession for you.

And now, venerating the suffering and cross of Peter and embracing the chain and stigmata of Paul, as we honour the confession and martyrdom and venerable death of both in the Name of the Lord who truly leads to Life, let us glorify the Thrice Holy God and implore him, through the intercession of his Proto-Coryphaei Apostles, to grant to us and to all the children of the Orthodox Church and of the Roman Catholic Church throughout the world "union of faith and communion of the Holy Spirit" in the "bond of peace" here on earth, and in Heaven above, instead, eternal life and great mercy. Amen."

Papa Benedetto XVI's Homily

"Your Holiness and Fraternal Delegates, Your Eminences,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood, Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Since the most ancient times the Church of Rome has celebrated the Solemnity of the Great Apostles Peter and Paul as a single Feast on the same day, 29 June. It was through their martyrdom, that they became brothers; together they founded the new Christian Rome. As such they are praised in the hymn for Second Vespers that dates back to Paulinus of Aquileia ([c. 750-]806): "O Roma felix - fortunate Rome, consecrated by the glorious blood of the two Princes of the Apostles; dyed red in their blood, you shine more resplendently than all the glory of the world, not by your merit, but by the merits of the saints that you have killed, drawing blood with the sword". The blood of martyrs does not invoke revenge but reconciliation. It is not presented as an accusation but rather as the "fairer light", in the words of the hymn for First Vespers: it is presented as the force of love that overcomes hatred and violence, thus founding a new city, a new community. Through their martyrdom they - Peter and Paul - now belong to Rome: through their martyrdom, Peter also became a Roman citizen for ever. Through their martyrdom, through their faith and love, both Apostles point to where true hope lies; they are founders of a new sort of city that must be constantly rebuilt in the midst of the old human city that is threatened by the opposing forces of human sin and selfishness.

By virtue of their martyrdom, Peter and Paul are in a reciprocal relationship for ever. A favourite image in Christian iconography shows the embrace of the two Apostles on their way to martyrdom. We can say: their martyrdom itself is the realization of a fraternal embrace in the deepest sense. They died for the one Christ and in their witness for which they gave their lives, they are one. In the New Testament writings we can, so to speak, follow the development of their embrace, this creation of unity in witness and mission. Everything begins when Paul, three years after his conversion, goes to Jerusalem "to visit Cephas" (Gal 1: 18). Fourteen years later he went up to Jerusalem again to lay "before those who were of repute" the Gospel he was preaching in order to avoid the risk of "running or [having] run in vain" (Gal 2: 1f.). At the end of this encounter, James, Cephas and John shake hands with him, thus confirming the communion that links them in the one Gospel of Jesus Christ (cf. Gal 2: 9). I find the fact that the collaborators mentioned at the end of the First Letter of Peter - Silvanus and Mark - were likewise close collaborators of St Paul is a beautiful sign of the growth of this inner embrace which developed despite the diversity of their temperaments and tasks. The communion of the one Church, is clearly demonstrated by the embrace of the great Apostles, in their cooperation.

Peter and Paul met in Jerusalem at least twice; the paths of both were ultimately to converge in Rome. Why? Might this be something more than pure chance? Might this contain a lasting message? Paul arrived in Rome as a prisoner but, at the same time, as a Roman citizen who, precisely as such, after his arrest in Jerusalem had appealed to the Emperor to whose tribunal he was taken. However, in a deeper sense Paul came to Rome of his own free will. Through some of his most important Letters he had already become inwardly close to this city: he had addressed to the Church in Rome the writing that sums up the whole of his proclamation and his faith better than any other. In the initial greeting of this Letter he says that the faith of the Christians of Rome is being talked about in all the world and is, therefore, reputed everywhere to be exemplary (cf. Rm 1: 8). He then writes: "I want you to know, brethren, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented)" (1: 13). At the end of the Letter he returns to this topic now speaking of his project of a journey to Spain. "I hope to see you in passing as I go to Spain, and to be sped on my journey there by you, once I have enjoyed your company for a little" (15: 24). "And I know that when I come to you I shall come in the fullness of the blessing of Christ" (15: 29). These are two things that become obvious: for Paul, Rome was a stopping place on the way to Spain, in other words - according to his conception of the world - on his way to the extreme edge of the earth. He considers his mission to be the fulfilment of the task assigned to him by Christ, to take the Gospel to the very ends of the world. Rome lay on his route. Whereas Paul usually went to places where the Gospel had not yet been proclaimed, Rome was an exception. He found there a Church whose faith was being talked about across the world. Going to Rome was part of the universality of his mission as an envoy to all peoples. The way that led to Rome, which already prior to his external voyage he had travelled inwardly with his Letter, was an integral part of his duty to take the Gospel to all the peoples - to found the catholic or universal Church. For him, going to Rome was an expression of the catholicity of his mission. Rome had to make the faith visible to the whole world, it had to be the meeting place of the one faith.

But why did Peter go to Rome? The New Testament says nothing about this directly. Yet it gives us some hints. The Gospel according to St Mark, which we may consider a reflection of St Peter's preaching, focuses closely on the moment when the Roman centurion, who, in the light of Jesus Christ's death on the Cross, said: "Truly this man was the Son of God!" (15: 39). By the Cross the mystery of Jesus Christ was revealed. Beneath the Cross the Church of the peoples was born: the centurion of the Roman platoon in charge of his execution recognized Christ as the Son of God.
The Acts of the Apostles describe the episode of Cornelius, a centurion of the Italic cohort, as a crucial stage for the entry of the Gospel into the Gentile world. On a command from God, Cornelius sent someone to fetch Peter and Peter, also following a divine command, went to the centurion's house and preached there. While he was speaking the Holy Spirit descended on the domestic community that had gathered and Peter said: "Can any one forbid water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?" (Acts 10: 47). Thus at the Council of the Jerusalem, Peter became the intercessor for the Church of the Gentiles who had no need of the Law because God had "cleansed their hearts by faith" (Acts 15: 9). Of course, in the Letter to the Galatians Paul says God empowered Peter for the apostolic ministry among the circumcised, and instead empowered him, Paul, for the ministry to the Gentiles (2: 8). This assignment however could only be in force while Peter remained with the Twelve in Jerusalem in the hope that all Israel would adhere to Christ. As they faced the further development, the Twelve recognized when it was time for them too to set out for the whole world to proclaim the Gospel. Peter who, complying with God's order, had been the first to open the door to pagans, now left the leadership of the Christian-Jewish Church to James the Lesser in order to dedicate himself to his true mission: the ministry for the unity of the one Church of God formed by Jews and pagans. Among the Church's characteristics, St Paul's desire to go to Rome places emphasis - as we have seen - on the word "catholic". St Peter's journey to Rome, as representative of the world's peoples, comes especially under the word "one": his task was to create the unity of the catholica, the Church formed by Jews and pagans, the Church of all the peoples. And this is Peter's ongoing mission: to ensure that the Church is never identified with a single nation, with a single culture or with a single State but is always the Church of all; to ensure that she reunites humanity over and above every boundary and, in the midst of the divisions of this world, makes God's peace present, the reconciling power of his love. Thanks to technology that is the same everywhere, thanks to the world information network and also thanks to the connection of common interests, in the world today new forms of unity exist; yet they spark new disputes and give a new impetus to the old ones. In the midst of this external unity, based on material things, our need for the inner unity which comes from God's peace is all the greater - the unity of all those who have become brothers and sisters through Jesus Christ. This is Peter's permanent mission and also the specific task entrusted to the Church of Rome.

Dear Brothers in the Episcopate, I would now like to address you who have come to Rome to receive the pallium as a symbol of your dignity and responsibility as Archbishops in the Church of Jesus Christ. The pallium is woven with wool from sheep that the Bishop of Rome blesses every year on the Feast of the Chair of Peter, setting them aside as it were, so that they may become a symbol of the flock of Christ over which you preside. When we place the pallium on our shoulders, our gesture reminds us of the Shepherd who takes upon his shoulders the lost sheep that cannot find its way home alone and brings it back to the fold. The Fathers of the Church saw this little lost lamb as the image of all humanity, of the whole of human nature which strays and can no longer find the way home. The Shepherd who brings it back home can only be the Logos, the eternal Word of God himself. In the Incarnation he took all of us - "human" sheep - on his shoulders. He, the eternal word, the true Shepherd of humanity carries us; in his humanity he carries each one of us on his shoulders. On the way of the Cross he took us home, he takes us home. But he also wants to have men to "carry" it with him. Being a Pastor of Christ's Church means participating in this task which is commemorated by the pallium. When we wear it, he asks us, "Are you too helping me to carry me those who belong to me? Are you bringing them to me, to Jesus Christ?". And then we recall the account of the sending of Peter by the Risen One. The Risen Christ connects the order: "Tend my sheep" inseparably with the question: "Do you love me, do you love me more than these?". Every time we put on the pallium, as a Pastor of Christ's flock we must listen to this question: "Do you love me?", and ourselves be questioned about the extra love that he expects from the Pastor.

Thus the Pallium becomes the symbol of our love for Christ the Good Shepherd and of our loving together with him - it becomes the symbol of the vocation to love people as he does, together with him; those who are seeking, those who have questions, those who are sure of themselves and the humble, the simple and the great; he becomes a symbol of the call to love all of them with the power of Christ and in view of Christ, so that they may find him and in him find themselves. However, the pallium, which you received "from the" tomb of St Peter has another, second meaning, inseparably connected to the first. In order to understand it, some words from the First Letter of St Peter may be a help to us. In his exhortation to priests to tend the flock properly he - St Peter - describes himself as a synpresbyteros - fellow elder (5: 1). This formula contains implicitly an affirmation of the principle of Apostolic Succession: Pastors who succeed one another are Pastors like him, they are together with him, they belong to the common ministry of the Pastors of the Church of Jesus Christ, a ministry that continues in them. But this word "fellow" also has two more meanings. It also expresses the reality we define today with the term "collegiality" of the Bishops. We are all fellow-priests. No one is a Pastor on his own. We are in the succession of the Apostles also thanks to being in communion as a college, which finds its continuity in the college of the Apostles. "Our" communion as Pastors is part of being a Pastor, because the flock is one alone, the one Church of Jesus Christ. And lastly this word "fellow" refers to communion with Peter and his Successor as a guarantee of unity. Thus the pallium speaks to us of the catholicity of the Church, of the universal communion of the Pastor and flock and refers us to apostolicity: to communion with the faith of the Apostles on which the Church is founded. It speaks to us of the ecclesia una, catholica, apostolica and naturally, binding us to Christ, it speaks to us precisely of the fact that the Church is sancta and that our work is a service to her holiness.

Lastly, this brings me back once again to St Paul and his mission. He expressed the essential of his mission as well as the deepest reason for his desire to go to Rome in chapter 15 of the Letter to the Romans in an extraordinarily beautiful sentence. He knows he is called "to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the Gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit" (15: 16). In this verse alone does Paul use the word "hierourgein" - to administer as a priest - together with "leitourgos" - liturgy: he speaks of the cosmic liturgy in which the human world itself must become worship of God, an oblation in the Holy Spirit. When the world in all its parts has become a liturgy of God, when, in its reality, it has become adoration, then it will have reached its goal and will be safe and sound. This is the ultimate goal of St Paul's apostolic mission as well as of our own mission. The Lord calls us to this ministry. Let us pray at this time that he may help us to carry it out properly, to become true liturgists of Jesus Christ. Amen."

Papa Benedetto's words at the Angelus in St Peter's Square
Solemnity of the Holy Apostles, Sunday 29 June 2009 - in Croatian, English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish  

"Dear Brothers and Sisters,
This year the Feast of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul occurs on a Sunday, so that the whole Church, and not only the Church of Rome, is celebrating it with solemnity. This coincidence is also conducive to giving greater emphasis to an extraordinary event: the Pauline Year, which I opened officially yesterday evening at the tomb of the Apostle to the Gentiles and which will continue until 29 June 2009. Indeed, historians date the birth of Saul, who later became Paul, back to between the years 7 and 10 A.D. Consequently, since approximately 2,000 years have now passed, I wished to establish this special Jubilee which will naturally have Rome as its centre and, in particular, the Basilica of St Paul Outside-the-Walls and the Tre Fontane [Three Fountains], the place of his martyrdom. However, it will involve the entire Church, beginning with Tarsus, the town of Saul's birth, and with the other Pauline sites which are pilgrimage destinations in present-day Turkey, as well as in the Holy Land and on the Island of Malta where the Apostle landed after being shipwrecked and scattered the fertile seed of the Gospel. In fact, the horizon of the Pauline Year can only be universal because St Paul was par excellence the Apostle to those who compared with the Jews, were "far-off", and had been "brought near", through "the Blood of Christ" (cf. Eph 2: 13). For this reason, today too, in a world which has become "smaller", but in which a great many people have still not yet encountered the Lord Jesus, the Jubilee of St Paul invites all Christians to be Gospel missionaries.

This missionary dimension must always be accompanied by the dimension of unity, represented by St Peter, the "rock" upon which Jesus Christ built his Church. As the liturgy emphasizes, the charisms of the two great Apostles are complementary for building the one People of God, and Christians cannot bear an effective witness to Christ unless they are united among themselves. The theme of unity is highlighted today by the traditional rite of the Pallium, which, during Holy Mass, I imposed upon the Metropolitan Archbishops appointed during this past year. There are 40 of them and two others will receive the pallium in their own archdioceses. To them too I once again extend my cordial greeting. Moreover, on today's Solemnity it is a cause of special joy to the Bishop of Rome to welcome the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople in the beloved person of His Holiness Bartholomew I, to whom I renew my fraternal greeting which I extend to the entire Delegation of the Orthodox Church that he has led here.

The Pauline Year, evangelization, communion in the Church and the full unity of all Christians:  let us now pray for these great intentions, entrusting them to the heavenly intercession of Mary Most Holy, Mother of the Church and Queen of Apostles."

After the Angelus:

"I am happy to welcome all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors. In a special way I greet the Metropolitan Archbishops who have received the pallium, accompanied by their relatives and friends on this Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul. May the courageous example of these Holy Patrons inspire the Archbishops as they preach the saving word of God. I am also pleased to extend warm greetings to the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, His Holiness Bartholomew I, and to the members of his Delegation. Through the intercession of the Apostles Peter and Paul, may all Christians bear clear witness to the truth and the love that sets us free. God bless you all!

A good Feast Day to you all!"



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