August 18, 2000
18-Aug-2000 -- Vatican Information Service. http://www.ewtn.com/.
VATICAN CITY, AUG 18, 2000 (VIS) - This morning in Castelgandolfo, the Pope received various groups of pilgrims: His Beatitude Stephanos II Ghattas, Patriarch of Alexandria of the Copts, Egypt; a group of Orthodox priests from the eparchy of Sabac-Valjevo, Serbia and a group of young Cubans accompanied by Cardinal Jaime Ortega Alamino, archbishop of Havana, Cuba.
Addressing Patriarch Ghattas and the bishops, priests, religious and lay people accompanying him, the Pope said that the Jubilee is an occasion to ask for strength from God, "in order to be true witnesses of the Gospel in both word and deed." He highlighted that in Egypt "it is also necessary to develop links with all your compatriots, especially with the faithful from other Christian denominations, that we may walk together towards full unity, as well as with believers from other religions, maintaining respect for people and for the liberty of conscience."
To priests from the Serbian Orthodox Church, accompanied by Catholic Coadjutor Archbishop Stanislav Hocevar of Belgrade and Orthodox Bishop Lavrentije Trifunovic, John Paul II referred to "the Serbian nation, that has been so sorely tried over these years" and asked that its people "may remain faithful to their Christian traditions, thanks also to your pastoral service."
"With all my heart, I hope that your land, Serbia, may soon overcome the problems that afflict it and so be able to look serenely ahead to a future of peace and development, in an atmosphere of collaboration and mutual respect among neighboring countries."
Speaking to Cardinal Ortega and the delegation of young Cubans who are taking part in World Youth Day, the Pope recalled the words he used during his "unforgettable trip to Cuba" in 1998: "Do not be afraid to open your hearts to Christ. Do not close yourselves to His love. Be His witnesses for other young people, adopting concrete commitments to spread the civilization of love in all areas: the family, ecclesial communities and the workplace."
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