Every second Saturday of the month, Divine Liturgy in English of Sunday - Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Family, Duke Street, London W1K 5BQ.
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Every Sunday - 9am Divine Liturgy in English (fully or mostly) at the Holy Family Cathedral

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Monday, 11 May 2009

Pope Benedict: Christians to bring reconciliation among Muslims and Jews

The Vatican Information Service reports:

At 4.30 p.m. on 10 May 2009, Benedict XVI travelled by car to the area of Bethany beyond the Jordan, located 50 kilometres from Amman on the border between Jordan and Israel. The precise location of Bethany remains unknown but it is believed to be located some 200 metres west of the Hill of the Prophet Elijah, in an area yet to be excavated.

On arrival the Pope boarded an electric car to visit the site. He was accompanied by King Abdullah, Queen Rani and Prince Ghazi, while an entourage followed in eleven other similar vehicles. As they went, the director of the al-Mughtas Centre explained the various features of the archaeological itinerary of the "Baptism Site" which concludes in an area where two churches are currently being built, one Latin and one Greek-Melkite. The purpose of the Holy Father's visit was to bless the cornerstones of the new buildings.

Having completed the itinerary, the Holy Father began his remarks by affirming that Bethany is "a place marked by many memorable events in biblical history. The prophet Elijah ... was from this area", he said. "Here the Spirit of the Lord called John the son of Zechariah to preach a conversion of hearts. John the Evangelist also places in this area the meeting between the Baptist and Jesus, Who at His baptism was 'anointed' by the Spirit of God".

"The foundation stone of a church is a symbol of Christ", Pope Benedict explained. "The Church rests on Christ, is sustained by Him and cannot be separated from Him. He is the one foundation of every Christian community. ... With Him, we too are living stones built into a spiritual house. ... The Church is in Christ a community of new life, a dynamic reality of grace that flows from Him".

The Holy Father then recalled how "we enter the Church through Baptism. The memory of Christ's own Baptism is brought vividly before us in this place. Jesus stood in line with sinners and accepted John's baptism of penance as a prophetic sign of His own passion, death and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins. ... May the Jordan always remind you that you have been washed in the waters of Baptism and have become members of the family of Jesus. Your lives, in obedience to His word, are being transformed into His image and likeness".

"May the prayerful contemplation of these mysteries", he continued, "enrich you with spiritual joy and moral courage. With the Apostle Paul, I encourage you to grow in the whole range of noble attitudes covered by the blessed name of 'agape', Christian love. Promote dialogue and understanding in civil society, especially when claiming your legitimate rights. In the Middle East, marked by tragic suffering, by years of violence and unresolved tensions, Christians are called to offer their contribution, inspired by the example of Jesus, of reconciliation and peace through forgiveness and generosity.

"Continue being grateful to those who lead you and serve you faithfully as ministers of Christ", the Pope added in conclusion. "You do well to accept their guidance in faith knowing that, by receiving the apostolic teaching they transmit, you welcome Christ and you welcome the One Who sent Him".

Following the rite of blessing the cornerstones, Benedict XVI returned to the apostolic nunciature in Amman, where he spent the night.

Having celebrated a private Mass at the apostolic nunciature in Amman on the morning of 11th May, the Pope travelled to Queen Alia international airport, where a brief ceremony was held before his departure from Jordan.

At the end of this the first stage of his Holy Land pilgrimage, the Holy Father expressed his thanks to King Abdullah II for his hospitality, and to everyone who had made his visit possible.

"I would like to encourage all Jordanians, whether Christian or Muslim, to build on the firm foundations of religious tolerance that enable the members of different communities to live together in peace and mutual respect", said the Pope.

"His Majesty the King has been notably active in fostering inter-religious dialogue, and I want to put on record how much his commitment in this regard is appreciated. I also gratefully acknowledge the particular consideration that he shows towards the Christian community in Jordan. This spirit of openness not only helps the members of different ethnic communities in this country to live together in peace and concord, but it has contributed to Jordan's far-sighted political initiatives to build peace throughout the Middle East".

The ceremony over, the Pope boarded his plane bound for Tel Aviv, Israel, where he arrived half an hour later.

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