Archive for April 18th, 2008

Pope Benedict XVI met with 250 Christian leaders and 50 Catholics involved in ecumenical efforts in an ecumenical prayer service at Saint Joseph’s Church in Yorkville.

The Holy Father was greeted by Cardinal Edward Egan, Archbishop of New York, and Monsignor John Sullivan, the administrator of the parish. Bishop Dennis Sullivan, vicar general of the archdiocese welcomed the Pope.

The service began with the opening hymn, “Draw Us in the Sprit’s Tether,” followed by a prayer and a reading from Scripture (Ephesians 4:-6).

Pope Benedict then addressed the gathered leaders. He noted that ecumenical efforts in the United States have an impact throughout the world. He emphasized the importance of the quest for unity. The Holy Father noted that the world is torn between the poles of greater interconnectedness and solidarity and greater individualism. In such a setting, an authentic witness to the Gospel is ever more necessary.

Pope Benedict said that it is important to maintain unity with the Church in every age. This unity flows from the Trinitarian God.

Christians must never be afraid to speak the truth of doctrine, especially in an age of secularism and relativism. By holding fast to sound teaching, Christians can respond to contemporary challenges. They must give witness to their reasons for hope.

Pope Benedict said that prayer must always remain at the heart of ecumenical efforts and he offered his gratitude to those who work for unity and to God, through whose Spirit this unity is made possible.

Following the address, the participants recited the Lord’s Prayer. The service concluded with a blessing and the hymn, “Now Thank We All Our God.”

The text of the Holy Father’s address is here.

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On April 18, Pope Benedict became the first Pope to visit a U.S. synagogue, making a brief visit to the Park East Synagogue in New York. He was welcomed by Rabbi Arthur Schneier, a Holocaust survivor. Children from the Park East Day School sang three Hebrew songs.

The Holy Father gave the following greeting:

Shalom! It is with joy that I come here, just a few hours before the celebration of your Pesah, to express my respect and esteem for the Jewish community in New York City. The proximity of this place of worship to my residence gives me the opportunity to greet some of you today. I find it moving to recall that Jesus, as a young boy, heard the words of Scripture and prayed in a place such as this. I thank Rabbi Schneier for his words of welcome and I particularly appreciate your kind gift, the spring flowers and the lovely song that the children sang for me. I know that the Jewish community make a valuable contribution to the life of the city, and I encourage all of you to continue building bridges of friendship with all the many different ethnic and religious groups present in your neighborhood. I assure you most especially of my closeness at this time, as you prepare to celebrate the great deeds of the Almighty, and to sing the praises of Him who has worked such wonders for his people. I would ask those of you who are present to pass on my greetings and good wishes to all the members of the Jewish community. Blessed be the name of the Lord!

The visit concluded with an exchange of gifts. Pope Benedict gave the Jewish community a gift: a copy of a page taken from an illuminated 15th-century manuscript from the Vatican Library. The page shows a traditional Jewish wedding. The Synagogue’s gifts to Pope Benedict included a bouquet of flowers and a large seder plate illustrating the journey “from slavery to freedom.

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Pope Benedict Greets the UN Staff

Following his address to the General Assembly of the United Nations, Pope Benedict XVI met with several officials of the United Nations and visited the Meditation Room in the United Nations headquarters.

Later, Pope Benedict extended his greetings to the staff of the United Nations Organization. He compared the United Nations with the Holy See in that both are contained in small geographic areas yet have impact around the world.

The Holy Father expressed his gratitude for the important work done by this staff. He remembered especially those who died in the field. The staff of the United Nations is a microcosm of the world, each person making an indispensable contribution to the good of the human family by monitoring governments’ fulfillment of their responsibility to protect their citizens.

Pope Benedict closed his remarks by offering his prayers for the staff and their families as they continue to serve the human family.

The complete text of the Holy Father’s greetings are here.

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Pope Benedict XVI addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations Organization at the organization’s headquarters in New York. Pope Benedict is the third Pope to address the United Nations, following Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II. (Pope John Paul II addressed the United Nations twice, in 1979 and in 1995.)

Upon arriving at the United Nations, Pope Benedict XVI was welcomed by the UN Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, and the President of the General Assembly, Mr. Srgjan Kerim. Before addressing the General Assembly, Pope Benedict met privately with the Secretary-General.

The Holy Father began his address in French before switching to English. He noted that the founding principles of the United Nations – the desire for peace, a sense of justice, respect for the dignity of the human person, and cooperation and humanitarian assistance — are just aspirations of the human spirit. The Holy See shares an interest in these principles.

Questions of security, development, reducing inequality, and care of the environment require collective action in good faith for the common good. While scientific and technological advances can be of great help, some can rob the human person and the family of their identity. He called on the international community to act with juridical means when needed to safeguard human rights.

The Holy Father spoke of the critical importance of protecting human rights, noting the sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Promoting human rights is the most effective strategy for reducing inequality and increasing security. Human rights are not simply a matter of law, but of justice, based in the natural law written on the human heart.

Once again, the Holy Father spoke of the importance of dialogue between religions as a way of building consensus in service of the common good. He emphasized the importance of freedom of religion in its public as well as its private dimension.

Pope Benedict said that the Catholic Church wishes to offer her proper contribution to international relations, making available her centuries of experience. He concluded his address by greeting the assembly in all the official languages of the United Nations, wishing them peace and prosperity with God’s help.

The assembly responded to his address with a standing ovation..

The complete text of the Holy Father’s address is here.

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Arrival in New York

Pope Benedict XVI arrived in Brooklyn (the location of JFK Airport) less than an hour after he departed from Washington, D.C. Cardinal Edward Egan welcomed the Holy Father to New York.

Other persons greeting the Holy Father included Bishop Celestino Migliore, the Holy See’s permanent observer to the United Nations, Bishop William F. Murphy, bishop of Rockville Centre, Bishop Gregory John Mansour, eparch of Saint Maron of Brooklyn for Maronites, Bishop Manuel Batakian, eparch of Our Lady of Nareg in New York for Armenian Catholics, Bishop Thomas V. Daily, bishop emeritus of Brooklyn, and state and local leaders, including New York mayor, Michael Bloomberg.

The Holy Father was greeted with cheers from the waiting crowd and music performed by a band.

Shortly after arrival, Pope Benedict left by helicopter for the headquarters of the United Nations.

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Pope Benedict XVI left Washington, D.C. this morning aboard Shepherd One. A small delegation, including Archbishop Wuerl and D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty were at Andrews Air Force Base to see him off.

The flight left at approximately 8:45 a.m. EDT for the short flight to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.

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