VATICAN CITY, DEC 15, 2006 (VIS) - Today, Benedict XVI received His Beatitude Antonios Naguib Patriarch of Alexandria for Catholic Copts who is officially visiting the Holy See for the first time since his election in March of this year.
In his French address, the Pope asked the patriarch to give his greetings to all the bishops, priests, and faithful of his patriarchy, as well as to Cardinal Stephanos II Ghattas, Patriarch Emeritus of Alexandria.
"The communion in Christ that unites us and all Catholics around the Successor of Peter is best seen in the celebration of the Divine Liturgy," said the Holy Father.
While recalling that the seat of Alexandria was the "first patriarchy after Rome" during the first five centuries of Christianity, Benedict XVI emphasized that its patriarchal community is the "bearer of a rich spiritual, liturgical, and theological tradition - the Alexandrian tradition -, whose treasures form part of the Church's patrimony". He assured the patriarch of his prayers and support in the "special duty that the ecumenical Second Vatican Council entrusted to the Eastern Catholic Churches: "to make progress toward the unity of all Christians, above all Eastern Christians".
he Patriarch of Alexandria for Catholic Copts also has "an important role in interreligious dialogue to develop fraternity and respect among Christians and Muslims". The Pope also invited His Beatitude to "continue encouraging the theological and spiritual pursuit of his tradition".
In today's world, your mission is of great importance for the faithful and for all human persons", the Holy Father said, praising the attention the patriarch has given to the "human, spiritual, moral, and intellectual education of youth through a network of quality schools and catechesis that constitute a service to the entire society".
Referring to the formation of priests the Pope underlined that "the vitality of Christian communities in the world today needs pastors (...) who are truly witnesses to the Word of God and guides to help the faithful be always more deeply rooted in the life and the mission of Christ".
I know well what place consecrated life occupies in the Church, " concluded the Holy Father. "May poverty, chastity, and obedience, lived in accordance with the gospel message, be a witness and a call to holiness for today's world!"
AC/ALEXANDRIAN PATRIARCHY/NAGUIB VIS 061215 (420)