On Saturday, the Holy Father received the Letters of Credence of Miltiadis Hiskakis, the new ambassador of Greece to the Holy See. In his address to the diplomat, the Pontiff recalled the evangelization efforts of St. Paul who strove tirelessly to bring Christianity to the Greek, Hellenistic culture.
The Pope spoke of the approaching Jubilee Year marking the bi-millennial anniversary of the birth of St. Paul, the Pope indicated that it "will be a particularly auspicious occasion to intensify our ecumenical endeavors. ... This brilliant 'Apostle to the Gentiles' dedicated his energies to preaching the wisdom of the cross of Christ amidst the people of Greece, who were formed by the highly sophisticated Hellenistic culture."
"The vibrant exchange between Hellenistic culture and Christianity allowed the former to be transformed by Christian teaching and the latter to be enriched by Greek language and philosophy. ... Even today, visitors to Athens can contemplate Paul's words - now etched on the monument overlooking the Areopagus - which he proclaimed to the learned citizens of the 'polis'. He spoke of the one God in whom 'we live and move and have our being.'"
St. Paul's words, said Pope Benedict, can help men and women “to appreciate more deeply their human dignity, and thus promote the good of the entire human family.” The Pontiff explained that he hopes the Pauline Year “will spark reflection upon the history of Europe and stir its inhabitants to rediscover the inestimable treasure of values they have inherited from the integral wisdom of Hellenistic culture and the Gospel."
Benedict XVI also thanked the ambassador for striving to “address administrative issues concerning the Catholic Church in Greece. “The Catholic faithful, though few in number, look forward to the favorable results of these deliberations. Indeed, when religious leaders and civil authorities work together to formulate fair legislation in regard to the life of local ecclesial communities, the spiritual welfare of the faithful and the good of all society are enhanced."