Friday, June 29, 2007

Pope Benedict formally declared a special year dedicated to St. Paul

Vatican, Jun. 29, 2007 ( - Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) formally declared a special year dedicated to St. Paul, as he opened the celebration of the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul with a Vespers service on June 28.

In his homily during the service, the Pontiff said that today's Church needs the dedication of Christians as courageous as St. Paul in bringing the message of the Gospel to a secular society. "Now as then," he said, "Christ needs apostles who are willing to sacrifice themselves."

In his early years Saul of Tarsus was hostile to Christianity, the Pope recalled. But after his profound conversion on the road to Damascus he became a fearless preacher and missionary. His energy and his bravery were essential to the growth of the early Church, the Pope noted.

Today's Christians must be similarly bold, the Pope continued. He said that the message of the Church "lacks credibility" unless there are some people ready to make sacrifices on behalf of the truth-- "to pay for their faith in every situation."

The feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, patrons of Rome, is a holiday at the Vatican, and the offices of the Holy See were closed on June 29. After opening the celebration with a Thursday-evening Vespers service at the basilica of St. Paul outside the Walls, the Holy Father presided at Mass in St. Peter's basilica on Friday.

During the ceremony the Pope imposed the pallium symbolic of metropolitan authority on 46 archbishops who had been appointed during the past year. As has become customary, the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople sent a delegation, headed by Metropolitan Emmanuel Adamidis of France, to join in the celebration at the Vatican.

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