- This morning, the Holy Father received His Beatitude Christodoulos, archbishop of Athens and of all Greece, who is making an official visit to the Vatican. Prior to his audience with the Pope, the archbishop visited St. Peter's Basilica where he prayed at the tomb of John Paul II.
"At the same time," he added, "we must increase collaboration among Christians in all European countries in order to face the new risks that challenge the Christian faith: growing secularization, relativism and nihilism, which open the way to forms of behavior and laws that damage the inalienable dignity of man and threaten such fundamental institutions as marriage. It is vital to undertake joint pastoral activity, as a joint testimony to our contemporaries and an expression of our hope."
- This morning in the Vatican, following their private meeting and after each had pronounced a public address, the Pope and His Beatitude Christodoulos, archbishop of Athens and of all Greece, signed a Joint Declaration in the presence of members of the archbishop's Greek delegation and of Catholic representatives.
"We, Benedict XVI, Pope and Bishop of Rome, and Christodoulos, Archbishop of Athens and of all Greece, in this sacred place of Rome, ... wish to live ever more intensely our mission to bear apostolic witness, to transmit the faith, ... and to announce the Good News of the birth of the Lord. ... It is also our joint responsibility to overcome, in love and truth, the multiple difficulties and painful experiences of the past."
"Our meeting in charity makes us more aware of our joint task: together to follow the arduous path of dialogue in truth in order to re-establish full communion of faith. ... Thus we obey a divine mandate ... and continue our commitment, ... following the example of the Apostles and demonstrating mutual love and a spirit of reconciliation."
I need to find some more material in the Greek Church and its own relationship with Rome. Benedict and Christodoulos got on quite well it looks like. But Greece has its own archconservatives who view Rome with distrust, though they report to Constantinople, not Athens.
- The Office of Liturgical Celebration of the Supreme Pontiff published today the calendar of celebrations at which the Holy Father will preside during the Christmas season:
- Sunday, 24: Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord. The Pope will celebrate Midnight Mass in the Vatican Basilica.
- Monday, 25: Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord. At noon from the central balcony of the Vatican Basilica, the Pope will deliver his Christmas message to the world and will impart the "Urbi et Orbi" blessing.
- Sunday, 31: At 6 p.m. in the Vatican Basilica, the Holy Father will preside at first Vespers on the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God, during which the traditional "Te Deum" hymn of thanksgiving will be sung for the conclusion of the civil year.
- Monday, 1: Solemnity of Mary Mother of God and 40th World Day of Peace which has as its theme: "The Human Person, the Heart of Peace." In the Vatican Basilica at 10 a.m., the Holy Father will preside at the celebration of Mass.
- Saturday, 6: Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord. Holy Father to preside at Mass in the Vatican Basilica at 10 a.m.
- Sunday, 7: Baptism of Our Lord. Benedict XVI will preside at Mass in the Sistine Chapel at 10 a.m., during which he will impart the Sacrament of Baptism to a number of children.