The Bishops’ Conference of Turkey said this week that “proclaiming Jesus Christ for Paul was a necessity that was born of his love for Him. This means that whoever encounters Christ can’t help but proclaim him in word and deed.”
The bishops’ message comes from a pastoral letter entitled, “Paul, witness and apostle of the Christian identity,” which they have issued on the occasion of the Pauline year proclaimed by Pope Benedict XVI for June 28, 2008 through June 29, 2009, for the two thousandth anniversary of the birth of St. Paul in Tarsus, Turkey.
St. Paul, the bishops write, reminds all Christians that “we cannot encounter God except through Christ. He is the door and the bridge between us and the Father. The Apostle, who with his example and words that strengthen identity, is also a man of dialogue.”
Used to encountering people of different ethic and religious traditions, “Paul understood that the spirit of Christ is present not only in the Church but precedes her and encourages her towards the outside,” they said.
After encouraging dialogue with the Muslims in the country, who are in the majority, the bishops concluded by inviting the faithful to read the letters of St. Paul, study them in their parishes and “make them an instrument for cultivating ecumenical initiatives.”