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First Visit of His Beatitude, Gregorios III, Patriarch / Batriyark of the cities of Antioch, Alexandria and Jerusalem, of Cilicia, Syria, Iberia, Arabia Mesopotamia, Pentapolis, Ethiopia, of all of Egypt and the entire East, Father of Fathers, Pastor of Pastors, Bishop of Bishops, the Thirteenth of The Holy Apostles (Patriarcat Grec Melkite Catholique) to His Holiness Ioannes Paulus II (John Paul II) - General Audience

His Beatitude, Gregorios III, Patriarch / Batriyark of the cities of Antioch, Alexandria and Jerusalem, of Cilicia, Syria, Iberia, Arabia Mesopotamia, Pentapolis, Ethiopia, of all of Egypt and the entire East, Father of Fathers, Pastor of Pastors, Bishop of Bishops, the Thirteenth of The Holy Apostles, the Bishops, the Priests and the Publics attended a General Audience with His Holiness Ioannes Paulus II (John Paul II) on Monday, 12 February 2001.

The full text of Pope John Paul II's Speech from the Holy See's Web Site.

Speech in 6 languages

News from the Holy See's Web Site.

The text below is from the Holy See's Web Site.

Holy See's Web site

POPE WELCOMES PATRIARCH OF GREEK-MELKITE CATHOLICS

VATICAN CITY, FEB 12, 2001 (VIS) - John Paul II this morning welcomed His Beatitude, Grégoire (Gregory) III , patriarch of Antioch of the Greek-Melkite Catholics, "who has come to celebrate our full ecclesial union." Joining the patriarch was a pilgrimage group of nearly 700 persons, including bishops, priests, religious and lay faithful.

"Union with the See of Rome," said the Pope, speaking French, "does not lessen your specificity or the treasures that are yours, but rather it strengthens them and makes of them a precious gift which enriches all of the Catholic world. The Pope appreciates your attachment and your fidelity to the traditions of the Christian Orient."

"You are a strong Church," he went on, "coherent and rooted in your identity: take care to pursue your pastoral commitment, making use of ancient treasures and giving suitable answers to the questions posed by man today." The Holy Father also expressed appreciation for their ecumenical commitment, encouraging them to "actively seek unity, with a prudent courage, in union with the entire Catholic Church, so that the time of full communion will rapidly arrive."

Addressing His Beatitude, Grégoire (Gregory) III , the Pope expressed his "fraternal best wishes" and said: "May you be a model for the people entrusted to you, following the example of the Good Shepherd."

"In the tormented context of the Middle East," he declared, "be at the same time an ardent defender of the weak and a tireless artisan of peace. Always keep a special place in your heart for your children of the diaspora. ... Go to everyone, not with the power and wealth of men, but only with the defenseless love of the poverty of Christ who, though rich, became poor to enrich all men."

AC/GREEK-MELKITE CATHOLICS/GREGORY III VIS 010212 (290)

Eyewitness Report By Bishop John A. Elya

HISTORIC VISIT OF THE CHURCH OF ANTIOCH TO THE CHURCH OF ROME FEBRUARY 9-15, 2001
An Eyewitness Report
By Bishop John A. Elya
Eparch of Newton for the Melkite Catholics in the United States

Pope Receives Patriarch, Hails Melkites for Ecumenical Work

On Monday morning 12 February, Pope John Paul II received His Beatitude, Grégoire (Gregory) III, the new Patriarch / Batriyark of Antioch and leader of the Greek-Melkite Church, and expressed appreciation for this Church's commitment to ecumenism, according to a religious news service. ¡ "I exhort you," the Pope told the Patriarch and 1,000 fellow guests gathered in Paul VI Hall, "to find in the Divine Liturgy the sacramental strength and theological stimulus to participate ever more actively in the search for unity, with prudent courage, in union with the whole Catholic Church, so that the hour of full communion will arrive rapidly." ¡ The Pope described the patriarch as an "ardent defender of the weak" and "tireless architect of peace," especially in the Middle East. This was the patriarch's first visit to Rome, following his recent election as leader of this ancient Church. ¡ The Greek-Melkite Church, of Eastern origin and Orthodox tradition, and submerged in the Islamic world, is like a hinge between Eastern and Western Christianity. It reached full communion with the Apostolic See of Rome in 1724, but maintains its own rites, liturgy and canonical peculiarities. It numbers 1.26 million faithful, half of whom live in the Mideast. ¡ The Pope spoke affectionate words in his greeting to his guests, who assembled in Paul VI Hall after a concelebrated Mass. John Paul expressed his admiration for their proud fidelity to Eastern Christian traditions, and describing their Church as "strong, consistent, rooted in its own identity." ¡ For his part, in greeting the Pope, His Beatitude, Grégoire (Gregory) III , who succeeded Maximos V, made an appeal on behalf of Mideast Christians. The patriarch asked the Pope to "help Christians to stay in those lands." He added: "The Arab world needs your presence, your word, your ministry, your international influence." ¡ Lastly, the Pope had a pastoral recommendation for all Greek-Melkite priests and bishops: "Go out to all, not with the power and wealth of men, but only with the disarming love of Christ who, being rich, became poor to enrich all men."

Catholic World News

Catholic World News

Number: 14846 Date: 12-Feb-01 Type: U Code:

VATICAN, Feb. 11, 01 (CWNews.com) -- Pope John Paul II met with Patriarch Grégoire (Gregory) III of Antioch, the leader of the Melkite Catholic Church, in Rome on Monday.

The Pontiff and the Patriarch celebrated the Divine Liturgy in St. Peter's Basilica on February 12, as the Melkite prelate came to pay his respects for the first time since his election in November of last year. Patriarch Gregory was accompanied by about 700 Melkite Catholics from all around the world.

The meeting with the Holy Father was "a very great joy," Patriarch Gregory said. He told the Pope: "The Arab world needs your presence, you words, you ministry, and your international influence."

Becoming more specific and more pointed in his remarks, the patriarch continued by saying that the Pope offers "precious hope for the Palestinian cause." He added: "We cannot allow a single people to undermine the peace and equilibrium of such a great number of Arab countries, to sow the seeds of conflict and of hatred, to ruin them economically, and to put the Christian presence in danger." The patriarch added that the Melkite Catholic Church is "deeply engaged in questions of justice, peace, and the rights of the Arab peoples, especially in Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq."

The Melkite Catholic Church is one of the most important Christian communities in the Middle East-- second only to the Maronite Catholic Church in the number of her faithful. Emigration and shifting population patterns have produced Melkite communities in Europe, the Americas, and Australia, but the Byzantine Catholic community remains centered primarily in Syria, Lebanon, and the Holy Land. Patriarch Gregory resides in Damascus-- and will greet the Pope when he visits there in May.

In his remarks to the Pope, the Melkite patriarch also observed that the Eastern-rite Catholic community can play an important role in ecumenical affairs. The Melkite Church in particular enjoys close ties with the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch. "We have always been a Church of dialogue," Patriarch Gregory said. "The Melkite Church is very much involved in the concrete efforts to regain unity with the patriarchate of Antioch." That Orthodox patriarchate, he added, is the most influential Orthodox group in the Arab world. Pope John Paul applauded that ecumenical effort, and urged the Melkite Church to show "prudent courage" in continuing the drive toward Christian unity. He also acknowledged that Melkite Catholics have faced enormous difficulties in the "tormented context" of the Middle East. "You should be, at one and the same time, ardent defenders of the vulnerable and tireless builders of peace," he said.

Zenit

Zenit

Greek-Melkites Hailed for Ecumenical Effort
Pope Receives Patriarch / Batriyark of Antioch

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 12, 2001 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II this morning received Gregory III , the new patriarch of Antioch and leader of the Greek-Melkite Church, and expressed appreciation for this Church's commitment to ecumenism.

"I exhort you," the Pope told the patriarch and 1,000 fellow guests gathered in Paul VI Hall, "to find in the Divine Liturgy the sacramental strength and theological stimulus to participate ever more actively in the search for unity, with prudent courage, in union with the whole Catholic Church, so that the hour of full communion will arrive rapidly."

The Pope described the patriarch as an "ardent defender of the weak" and "tireless architect of peace," especially in the Middle East. This was the patriarch's first visit to Rome, following his recent election as leader of this ancient Church.

The Greek-Melkite Church, of Eastern origin and Orthodox tradition, and submerged in the Islamic world, is like a hinge between Eastern and Western Christianity. It reached full communion with the Apostolic See in 1724, but maintains its own rites, liturgy and canonical peculiarities. It numbers 1.26 million faithful, half of whom live in the Mideast.

The Pope spoke affectionate words in his greeting to his guests, who assembled in Paul VI Hall after a concelebrated Mass. John Paul expressed his admiration for their proud fidelity to Eastern Christian traditions, and describing their Church as "strong, consistent, rooted in its own identity."

For his part, in greeting the Pope, His Beatitude, Gregory III , who succeeded Maximos V, made an appeal on behalf of Mideast Christians. The patriarch asked the Pope to "help Christians to stay in those lands." He added: "The Arab world needs your presence, your word, your ministry, your international influence."

Lastly, the Pope had a pastoral recommendation for all Greek-Melkite priests and bishops: "Go out to all, not with the power and wealth of men, but only with the disarming love of Christ who, being rich, became poor to enrich all men."

ZE01021208

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