Pope welcomes new Syrian Catholic Patriarch

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At his weekly general audience on June 17, Pope Benedict XVI introduced Syrian Catholic Patriarch Ignace Youssif III Younan, who was making his first official visit to Rome since his selection in January as the Patriarch of Antioch and leader of the worlds’ Syrian Catholics. With his visit to the Vatican, the Pope said, the Syrian Patriarch was “maintaining a living bond between the Eastern Christian tradition and the Bishop of Rome.” The Pope welcomed him– together with the other Syrian Catholic prelates who accompanied him on the visit– and informed those attending the general audience that Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, the prefect of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches, would serve as papal representative the following day when the Divine Liturgy would be celebrated according to the Syriac-Antiochan rite at the basilica of St. Mary Major.

The Pope also welcomed participants in an international meeting for inter-religious dialogue, sponsored by the Italian bishops together with the Italian government’s foreign ministry.

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