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Behind the tears and blood

· Pope reminds the ROACO that the peace of Christ is knocking at the doors of the Middle East, India and Ukraine ·

Christ is “our peace, and he knocks on the door of our hearts in the Middle East, as well as in India and Ukraine”. Pope Francis said these words to participants in the 89th plenary session of the Assembly of Organizations for Aid to the Eastern Churches (ROACO), who he received in audience on Thursday morning, 16 June, in the Clementine Hall.

The Pope expressed special gratitude to representatives of the agencies that help Eastern Christian communities “for the zeal you put into carrying out the mission entrusted to you”. Extending a particular thought to the new custodian of the Holy Land and to the Friars Minor, “who for centuries have guaranteed the maintenance of the holy places and sanctuaries”, he referred to the recent work of restoration underway in Bethlehem, during which, “on a wall of the nave, a seventh mosaic angel has come to light, which, together with six others, forms a sort of procession towards the place that commemorates the mystery of the birth of the Word made flesh”.

The circumstance prompted Pope Francis to reflect on how “even the face of our ecclesial communities can be covered by ‘deposits’ due to different problems and sins”. Still, he said, “your work should always be guided by the certainty that under the moral and material scaling, even under the tears and the blood caused by war, violence and persecution, under this layer that seems impenetrable there is a face that is bright like that of the angel in the mosaic”.

After recalling the extraordinary collection organized last April for Ukraine, and recalling the need to foster a spirit of communion in India and “in every part of the world where Latin and Eastern Catholics live side by side”, the Pope concluded by asking those present to accompany him with their prayers on his next trip to Armenia.

Following the audience, Pope Francis met with representatives of the “great family of traveling shows” in the Paul VI Hall, who were gathered to celebrate the Jubilee.

Describing them as “artisans of celebration, wonder and beauty”, the Pope encouraged them to especially “sow beauty and joy in a world that is sometimes gloomy and sad”. This was his wish: “May you always carry out your work with love and care, confident that God accompanies you with his providence, generous in works of charity, willing to offer the resources and the genius of your arts and your professions. You cannot imagine the good that you do: the good that you sow”.

Pope’s address to ROACO 

Pope’s address to circus and street performers




St. Peter’s Square

Dec. 14, 2019