“I will not resign myself to a Middle East without Christians,” says Pope Francis

Today the Pope met with representatives of the various Catholic Churches of the Eastern Rite and spoke about the need for transparency in the management of assets. “Our priests are entitled to our good example,” he added


This morning Pope Francis met with Patriarchs and Major Archbishops from Catholic Churches of the Eastern Rite who are in Rome to take part in the Plenary Assembly of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches on the theme “The Eastern Catholic Churches 50 years after the Second Vatican Council”. Participants spoke about the situation faced by Christians in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, India and within their respective diaspora communities.

Before listening to what each Eastern Church leader had to say, Pope Francis gave a brief introductory speech to all those gathered. He spoke about Benedict XVI’s Post-Synodal Exhortation “Ecclesia in Medio Oriente:“The union, which you are called to realize in your Churches, finds natural and full expression in the ‘indefectible union with the Bishop of Rome”(ibid.). A union that demands a high price, not infrequently even martyrdom. The whole Church is very grateful for this.”

“In order for our testimony to be credible, we are called to always seek ” justice, godliness, faith, love, patience and gentleness “(ibid.; cf. 1 Tim 6:11 ), to a sober lifestyle in the image of Christ, who stripped himself to enrich us with his poverty (cf. 2 Cor 8:9); untiring zeal and that charity, fraternal and paternal, that the bishops , priests and faithful , especially if they live alone and marginalized , expect from us. I think, above all, of our priests in need of understanding and support, even on a personal level. They are entitled to our good example in things pertaining to God, as in any other activity of the Church. They are asking us for transparency in management of assets and concern for every weakness and need. All of this while observing that authentic synodal praxis, which is distinctive of the Eastern Churches.”

The Holy Father received participants of the Plenary Assembly today at 12 in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican. “The aim of this Session is to bring back the spirit of mercy of the Second Vatican Council and the subsequent magisterium on Eastern Christianity.”

The Pope then turned his thoughts to the Middle East, the blessed land in which Christ lived, died and was resurrected. The light of faith in this land has not gone out, it is still shining bright. Every Catholic therefore has a debt of gratitude to the Churches in this region. One of the things we can learn from them is the effort that goes into their daily practise of the ecumenical spirit and interreligious dialogue.

“Syria, Iraq, Egypt and areas of the Holy Land are still oozing tears. The Bishop of Rome will not be at peace for as long as there are still men and women of every religion, who have been robbed of their dignity and deprived of a future and all the basic things they need to survive and forced to become refugees and asylum seekers. Today, “together with the pastors of the Churches of the East”, we appeal for “everyone’s right to a dignified life and to freely profess their faith be respected. We should never resign ourselves to thinking of the Middle East without the Christians, who for two thousand years confess the name of Jesus, as full citizens in social, cultural and religious life of the nations to which they belong,” Francis said.

Finally, the Pope asked the whole Church to encourage prayer. Prayer obtains reconciliation and peace from God’s merciful heart. Prayer takes away ignorance and inspires dialogue where there is open conflict. When it is sincere and persevering it makes our voice mild and resolute and able to listen to leaders of nations.

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