02/27/2013, 00.00
VATICAN - MIDDLE EAST
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Young Christians from Middle East thank Benedict XVI for supporting their vocation

Johanna, a young Egyptian seminarian, and Fr. Isa, a Palestinian priest from Bethlehem; owe their vocation to the figure of Benedict XVI. With his encyclicals, his letters and his journey to the Holy Land he was an example of the presence of Christ, not only among Christians but also between Muslims and Jews.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "Benedict XVI is a strong and courageous figure who gives hope to our Catholic Christian minority in Egypt", says Johanna Luca, 28, a young seminarian from Giza (Egypt), in St. Peter's square for the final audience of Benedict XVI.   Like other seminarians, Johanna only arrived in Rome a few months ago and considers himself lucky, that he has had the chance to see and hear the Pope in this period of preparation for the priesthood. "In these years - he says - I always saw him as a support and an example of communion, especially for my Church, situated in a country with a Muslim majority." For the seminarian "the love of Christ demonstrated by the pope filled young Egyptian Christian with light and gave us hope." "His decision to resign struck me deeply - he admits - I was very sad, but now I know that Benedict XVI will be even closer to me through prayer and his total dedication to Christ."

Fr. Isa, 29, comes instead from Bethlehem (Palestine) and like Johanna, has only been in Rome a few months. The young priest said that Benedict XVI was crucial to his vocation: "I was 21 years old when Card. Joseph Ratzinger was elected pope. His figure has accompanied all my years in the seminary through his encyclicals, his speeches and his trip to the Holy Land in 2009. During this period I learned love for the Church from him and especially the communion of the Church. I am here today in St. Peter's Square to pray for him and thank him for all that he has done for the Christians of the Holy Land and the Middle East. "

Fr. Isa notes that through his speeches, particularly in Regensburg, Benedict XVI witnessed the loving and merciful gaze of Jesus towards people of different faiths. "God - he explains - became man to save all mankind. We Christians of the Holy Land this priority close at hand, our presence among Muslims and Jews needs to bear witness to the world that Christ died and rose again for all."

"My hope - he concludes - is that the future Pope continues on this path of love and universal communion between Catholics and is an example of humility and service to the Church for all." (S.C.)

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