Peace for the Middle East
· With the Patriarch of Antioch the Pope decries the martyrdom of Christians ·
In the face of “the terrible suffering caused by war, violence and persecutions” against Christians in the Middle East, and the inability of the powers that be to find solutions, Pope Francis raised his voice, inviting prayer “for the victims of this brutal violence”.
On Friday morning, 19 June, receiving in audience his Holiness Mor Ignatius Aphrem II, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, the Pontiff voiced the cry of sorrow for so many innocent victims of all the situations of conflict in the various regions of the world. “Let us also ask the Lord”, he added, “for the grace to always be willing to forgive and to be workers of reconciliation and peace”, for “this is what vivifies the witness of martyrs”.
The Pope also recalled the two Christian archbishops who were kidnapped together in Syria more than two years ago, just as priests and countless people of various groups have been deprived of their freedom. He then called upon the leader of the Syrian Orthodox Church, “in this moment of difficult trial and pain”, to “strengthen even more the bonds of friendship and fraternity”, by hastening their “steps on the common path” and exchanging the treasures of their respective traditions “as spiritual gifts, for what unites us is much greater what which divides us”.
Referring to the ecumenical dialogue between the two Churches, Francis emphasized that the Patriarch’s visit “strengthens the bonds of friendship and brotherhood which unite our Churches, the See of Rome and the See of Antioch”, following that “holy pilgrimage” toward full communion, which was begun in 1971 by Patriarch Mor Ignatius Jacob III and Pope Paul VI. “Signing the Common Declaration in our common profession of faith in the mystery of the Word made flesh, true God and true man”, he recalled, “they placed the necessary founding dynamic on that path which we are walking together in obedience to the Lord’s prayer for the unity of the disciples”.
St. Peter’s Square
Feb. 18, 2019
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