Here is an English translation, by me, of Pope Benedict XVI's Address to Coptic Catholics during his meeting yesterday with His Beatitude Antonios Naguib, Patriarch of Alexandria for the Coptic Catholics:
Beatitude, Venerated Brothers in the Episcopate, Dear Sons and Daughters of the Coptic Catholic Church,
After your election to the patriarchal See of Alexandria for Coptic Catholics, Beatitude, your first official visit to the Successor of Peter is a moment of grace for the Church. I thank you for the words that you just addressed to me concerning your Patriarchate and for your prayer for my ministry. I am delighted to meet you here, surrounded by the Bishops of your patriarchate, priests and faithful, to celebrate the "communio ecclesiastica" that I had the joy of granting to you this past April 6. I greet all of you warmly, who came to share this great moment of brotherly communion and unity of the Coptic Catholic Church with the Apostolic See. I take advantage of this opportunity to greet His Beatitude Cardinal Stephanos II, Patriarch Emeritus, whom I am happy to welcome, who consecrated his life to the service of God and to the Coptic Catholic Church.
It is in the celebration of the Divine Liturgy that we best see communion in Christ, who makes us brothers. It is there that the communion among all Catholics is expressed in plenitude, around the Successor of Peter. You are, Beatitude, the Father and the Head of the Coptic Catholic Church of Alexandria, a prestigious See honored during the first five centuries as the first patriarchate after Rome.
Your patriarchal community carries a rich spiritual tradition, liturgical and theological – the Alexandrian tradition - whose treasures are part of the patrimony of the Church: it has been the beneficiary of the preaching of the evangelist Saint Mark, interpreter of the Apostle Peter; a particular bond of brotherhood thus binds your Patriarchate to the See of Peter. Thus, I want to assure you of my prayer and my support for "the special duty" that the Vatican II Ecumenical Council entrusted to the Eastern Catholic Churches: "of promoting the unity of all Christians, especially Eastern Christians" (Orientalium Ecclesiarum, No. 24), particularly with your brothers of the Coptic Orthodox Church. In the same way, you have an important role in inter-faith dialogue, to develop fraternity and esteem between Christians and Moslems, and among all men.
Beatitude, in becoming Patriarch, you have kept your first name, Antonios, remembering the great current of monasticism, born in Egypt, and that tradition is connected with the work of Saint Anthony, then to that of Saint Pachomius. Thanks to the Western contribution of Saint Benedict, monasticism became a giant tree that bore abundant and magnificent fruits throughout the world. In mentioning the Coptic Church, we cannot but think of the writers, the exegetes and the philosophers, such as Clement of Alexandria and Origen, but also the great patriarchs, confessors and Doctors of the Church, such as Athanasius and Cyril, whose illustrious names mark the faith of a fervent people through the centuries. You must unceasingly follow their footsteps, developing theological and spiritual research specific to your tradition.
In the present day world, your mission is of great importance for your faithful and for all men, to whom the love of Christ presses us to proclaim the Good News. In particular, I call your attention to the humane, spiritual, moral and intellectual education of youth through a quality scholarly and catechetical network, which constitutes a service to the entire society. I sincerely hope that this educational commitment may be increasingly recognized, so that fundamental values will be transmitted, with a view to the proper identity of Catholic schools; the young people of today will thus be able to become responsible men and women in their families and in society, eager to build a greater solidarity and a more ardent fraternity among all of the nation’s components. Convey to the young people all my esteem and all my affection, reminding them that the Church and the entire society need their enthusiasm and their hope.
I invite you to intensify the training of priests and the many young people who wish to consecrate themselves to the Lord. The vitality of Christian communities in today’s world requires pastors after God’s own heart, who are true witnesses to the Word of God and guides to help the faithful root their lives and missions ever more deeply in Christ!
I know the place that the consecrated life holds in your Church. Poverty, chastity and obedience lived according to the Evangelical Counsels are a testimony and a call to holiness for the world of today! May the members of consecrated Institutes pursue their missions, especially among the young people and those most abandoned in society.
At the end of our meeting, I offer you, Beatitude, brotherly wishes that the Holy Spirit may enlighten you in the exercise of your duties, that He may comfort you in difficulties and that He may give you the joy of seeing your patriarchal Church grow in enthusiasm and in number. At the beginning of your ministry, I wish to speak to you again with all of Christ’s words to the disciples: "Fear not, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the Kingdom" (Luke 12:32). While I send my cordial greetings to the whole of the Egyptian people through you, I entrust all of you to the intercession of the Virgin Mary and all the Coptic saints. From the depth of my heart, I grant to you, together with the Bishops and all the faithful of your patriarchate, an affectionate apostolic Blessing.
Updated: As of Jan., 2007, there is now an official Vatican translation of this address.