Ceremony Address at Presidential Palace of Athens
The Holy Father, after landing at the international airport of Athens on
Friday morning, 4 May 2001, went to the Presidential Palace, where a
ceremony of welcome took place. In his address to the President, Mr.
Kostas Stephanopoulos, the Pope said, "My wish is in some way to
recognize the great debt which we all owe to Greece".
Address to Holy Synod
On the afternoon of Friday, 4 May 2001, the Holy Father went to the
Palace of the Archbishop of Athens and of all Greece, Archbishop
Christodoulos, to pay a formal visit to him and the Holy Synod. He
addressed the Greek Orthodox authorities in English. "For all the
occasions past and present, when sons and daughters of the Catholic
Church have sinned by action or omission against their Orthodox brothers
and sisters, may the Lord grant us the forgiveness we beg of him".
Catholic Bishops of Greece
In the late afternoon of Friday, 4 May 2001, after the visits to the
President and the Orthodox Archbishop of Athens, the Holy Father met
with the Catholic Bishops of Greece. "You are the 'frontier'
Bishops: because of the particular conditions in which you are living,
you greatly desire the obstacles which stand in the way of full union
... to be quickly overcome".
On Friday evening, 4 May 2001, at 6:30 p.m., the Holy Father met His
Beatitude Christodoulos, the Orthodox Archbishop of Athens and Primate
of Greece, at the Areopagus, where they listened to the reading of Acts
17:22-34, venerated the ikon of St Paul the Apostle and then listened to
Cardinal Sodano who read in English the Common Declaration. In the
Declaration, the Pope and Archbishop express their desire for unity
among all Christians, their concern for justice to the poor, for peace,
for a "globalization of brotherhood", and an acknowledgement
from nations of the European Union of their Christian roots.
Mass at the
Sport Palace in Athens
On Saturday, 5 May 2001, the Holy Father celebrated Mass at the Sport
Palace in the complex of the Olympic Centre of Athens: "In order to
proclaim the good News to the men and women of our time, the Church must
be attentive to their cultures and their ways of communicating, without
allowing the Gospel message to be altered or its meaning or scope
at Arrival in Damascus
On Saturday afternoon, 5 May 2001, the Holy Father arrived in Syria at
the international airport of Damascus, where he was met by various
ecclesiastical and civil authorities, including the President of the
Syrian Arab Republic, Dr Bashar Al-Assad. The Holy Father spoke in
English: "I come as a pilgrim of faith".
Address to Ecumenical
The Holy Father together with His Beatitude Ignace I Hazim, Greek
Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, His Holiness, Patriarch
Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, and other representatives of other
Churches and Ecclesial Communities of the country met in the Greek
Orthodox Cathedral of the Dormition of Our Lady in Damascus on Saturday
evening of 5 May 2001. In his address, the Holy Father recalled the
original unity of the first Christian communities in the Patriarchate of
Mass in the
Abbassyin Stadium of Damascus
On Sunday morning, 6 May 2001, the Holy Father celebrated Mass at the
Abbassyin Stadium of Damascus. In his homily he spoke of the Conversion
of St Paul, which took place nearby, as an "extraordinary
event" which was "decisive for the future of Paul and the
Church". The homily is followed by the Pope's short Regina Caeli
message, in which he remarks on the devotion of Syrian Christians to the
Mother of God.
Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops
On Sunday 6 May 2001, the Holy Father went to the Melkite Greek Catholic
Patriarchal Palace in Damascus to dine with the Patriarchs and 35
Catholic bishops of Syria along with the Cardinals and Bishops of the
Papal entourage, which included the Greek Orthodox and Syrian Orthodox
Patriarchs. The Pope spoke of Christ's presence with us, which is
demanding as well as consoling, obliging us "not to keep for
ourselves the treasure we have received".
Catholic and Orthodox Faithful
On Sunday evening 6 May 2001, the Holy Father went to the Syrian
Orthodox Cathedral of St. George in Damascus where he met with clergy,
religious men and women and important laity of the Catholic and Orthodox
Churches. "These will be the marks of our fidelity to God: to pray,
to carry the Cross, to obey God's will, and to honour everyone as a
brother or sister."
Muslims of Damascus
On Sunday evening, 6 May 2001, the Holy Father left the Syrian Orthodox
cathedral to go to the Umayyad Great Mosque of Damascus, to visit the
memorial of St John the Baptist with the Grand Mufti, Shiek Ahmad
Kuftaro, and other Muslim authorities. The Holy Father addressed the
Muslims in the courtyard of the mosque.
Qunaytra on the Golan Heights
On Monday morning, 7 May 2001, after visiting the places of the Apostle
Paul, the Holy Father traveled to Qunaytra, on the Golan Heights, where
he offered this prayer in a Greek Orthodox church.
Young People in Damascus
On Monday evening, 7 May 2001, in the Melkite Greek Catholic Cathedral
of the Dormition of Our Lady, the Holy Father met with young people for
a session of prayer and personal witness. In his his address, delivered
in French, he said, "Christ is calling you and awakening in you a
desire to make your life something magnificent and beautiful".
On Tuesday morning, 8 May 2001, at the international airport of
Damascus, the Holy Father took his formal leave from the Syrian Arab
Republic in a ceremony at which he gave the following address. "The
world looks to the Middle East with hope and concern, expectantly
awaiting every sign of constructive dialogue ...."
The Holy Father's Jubilee pilgrimage to Malta "in the footseps of
the Apostle Paul", began with ceremonies at Gudja International
Airport, Malta, where he arrived from Syria at on Tuesday, 8 May 2001.
On hand to welcome the Pope were Mr Guido Di Marco, President, and
Archbishop Joseph Mercieca, with dignitaries of Church and State.
"For two millennia you have been faithful to the vocation involved
in that singular encounter [with St Paul]", he said.
Mass of Beatification
On Wednesday, 9 May 2001, the Holy Father presided at Mass in Granaries
Square, Floriana, for the beatification of three Servants of God, the
first Maltese to be raised to the honours of the altar: Fr George Preca,
founder of the Society of Christian Doctrine, Ignatius Falzon, a devout
layman, and Sr Maria Adeodata Pisani, professed nun of the Order of St
Benedict. The Pope recalled the famous devotion and missionary zeal of
the Maltese. Concluding remarks after the Mass recalled those he had
wished to meet though unable.
Address to the Society
of Christian Doctrine
On Wednesday, 9 May 2001, the Holy Father venerated the relics of Bl.
Dun Gorg Preca in the Church of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal at
Hamrun. He was welcomed to the Church by the Superiors of the men's and
women's branches of the Society of Christian Doctrine, founded by the
new blessed in 1907 to train young people to gave a religious formation
to others. at the end of the liturgy of the Word, the Holy Father
addressed the members on planting the seed of God's Word.
On Wednesday evening, 9 May 2001, the Holy Father departed for Rome from
the International Airport of Gudja. His farewell address was in English.
"The future of peace in the world depends on strengthening dialogue
and understanding between cultures and religions. Continue in your