POPE ASKS FOR RE-EVANGELIZATION OF EUROPE WHILE LIBYA EXTENDS INVITATION

     VATICAN (CWN) -- At his Angelus audience of Sunday, February 15, Pope John Paul II invoked the figures of Europe's three great patron saints-- Benedict, Cyril, and Methodius-- as examples for all Christians. He said that today's world needs the same evangelical spirit, to stimulate the "re-evangelization" of Europe on the eve of the third millennium.

      The Holy Father also emphasized the urgency of ecumenical dialogue as a preparation for the Jubilee. He pointed out that Sts. Cyril and Methodius, during their missionary work in the 9th century, cooperated with both the Church in Rome and the Patriarchate of Constantinople, which would later go into schism as the Orthodox Church. He urged his audience to invoke the intercession of the great saints, praying that the Church would again be restored to the unity that prevailed in their era.

      At the same time, the Vatican announced that the first Libyan ambassador to the Holy See has extended an invitation for Pope John Paul II to visit his country.

      While accepting the diplomatic credentials of Husein-Fuad Mustafa Kabazi, Pope John Paul II did not respond to the ambassador's comment that he hoped "one day Your Holiness will deign to visit" Libya. The new Libyan ambassador also said that he was engaged in "a mission of peace," and promised "the greatest international cooperation" with the Vatican.

      Instead, the Holy Father sent his greetings to Col. Muammar Q'addafi, and said that "Christians and Muslims have many things in common." He said that peaceful dialogue between the religions in Libya could help create a climate of peace throughout the Mediterranean region.

      The Holy See established formal diplomatic relations with Libya in March 1997, despite the pressures of international sanctions against that country. However, observers have noticed the unusually long delay before a Libyan ambassador actually arrived in Rome.

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February 17, 1998 volume 9, no. 34          DAILY CATHOLIC

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