Benedict XVI Praises Wisdom of Eastern Christianity

Pontifical Oriental Institute Marks 90th Anniversary

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 6, 2007 (Zenit.org).- The wisdom of Eastern Christianity is a heritage that the Church values, said Benedict XVI upon receiving a delegation from the Pontifical Oriental Institute.

The Pope received 280 members of the institute today, on the 90th anniversary of its foundation by Pope Benedict XV in 1917.

"The time of that Pope was a time of war," said Benedict XVI, "while he himself worked for peace. To achieve peace he launched various appeals and even drew up [...] a plan for peace, a detailed plan which unfortunately proved unsuccessful."

Noting his own "particular bond" with Benedict XV, Benedict XVI explained how his predecessor favored the Eastern Churches, which came to "enjoy a regime more in keeping with their traditions, under the gaze of the Roman Pontiffs who have never ceased to show their concern with concrete gestures of support."

These communities have known "difficult periods" and "harsh trials," said the Pope. "Though physically distant from Rome, they have always remained close through their faithfulness to the See of Peter. However, their progress and their firmness in difficulties would have been unthinkable without the constant support they were able to draw from that oasis of peace and study that is the Pontifical Oriental Institute, a meeting point for scholars, professors, writers and publishers, some of the greatest experts on the Christian East."

The Holy Father specifically praised the institute's library, "justly famous throughout the world" and "one of the best on the Christian East," saying he was committed to expanding it still further "as a sign of the interest the Church of Rome has in knowledge of the Christian East, and as a means to eliminate any prejudices which could harm the cordial and harmonious coexistence of Christians."

"I am, in fact, convinced," he added, "that supporting academic study also has an effective ecumenical value, because drawing from the heritage of wisdom of the Christian East enriches everyone."

"The Pontifical Oriental Institute," Benedict XVI concluded, "represents an outstanding example of what Christian wisdom has to offer, both to people who wish to acquire an ever more accurate knowledge of the Eastern Churches, and to those seeking a more profound orientation of life according to the Spirit, a subject on which the Christian East can justly boast a rich tradition."