14-April-2005 -- Catholic World News Brief


Vatican, Apr. 14 (CWNews.com) - Maronite Catholic Patriarch Pierre Nasrallah Sfeir remembered John Paul II as the "Pope of Peace," as he celebrated the Divine Liturgy on the 7th day of the novendiali.

The Maronite prelate used the Byzantine rite during the 7th of 9 daily Masses for the deceased Pope. The Eucharistic liturgy was concelebrated by two other Eastern cardinals-- Major Archbishop Lubomyr Husar of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, and Patriarch Ignace Moussa Daoud, the former head of the Syrian Catholic Church-- in St. Peter's Basilica.

After thanking the College of Cardinals for allowing the opportunity to use the Byzantine ritual in the commemorations of the late Pontiff, Cardinal Sfeir spoke of the "courageous-- very courageous" steps John Paul II had taken to promote the Eastern Catholic churches. He also stressed the trips that the late Pope had taken to the troubled Middle East, seeking to encourage peaceful negotiations between opposing parties there.

Patriarch Sfeir concluded his homily with a prayer that God would grant John Paul II "the peace of the just," and reward him with "the holiness he already enjoys in heaven."

During the Divine Liturgy, a Maronite nun conducted the pontifical choir in singing Ukrainian and Romanian music. A large number of Catholics of the Eastern churches joined in the celebration, which ws conducted in Arabic and Syrian-Aramaic. (Within the city of Rome, there are small Catholic communities of the Chaldean, Syro-Malabar, Armenian, Syrian, Syro-Malankar, Coptic, Melkite, and Maronite churches.) The celebrants were vested according to their own liturgical traditions, in jeweled miters shaped like crowns. For the sake of Italian Catholics unfamiliar with the Byzantine liturgy, an expert provided a regular explanation of "the spirituality and the prayers of the first Eastern fathers."

On Friday, April 15, the 8th of the novendiali Masses will be designated particularly for the religious communities of Rome. Archbishop Piergiorgio Silvano Nesti, the secretary of the Congregation for Religious, will be the principal celebrant.