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Friday, November 18, 2016
#PopeFrancis " As the Blood of Christ, shed out of love, has reconciled and united..." Prayers for Peace with Patriarch
Pope Francis spoke on Thursday met with the head of the Assyrian Church of the East, Mar Gewargis III, who was making his first visit to the Vatican since being elected as Catholicos-Patriarch. They participated in prayer in the Redemptoris Mater Chapel. Here is a translation of the Pope’s address,Holiness,
Beloved Brothers in Christ,
It is a great joy and an occasion of grace to meet you here at Saint Peter’s tomb. I welcome you affectionately, thanking you for the kind words that were addressed to me. Through you, I wish to extend my cordial greeting in the Lord to all the Bishops, priests and faithful of the Assyrian Church of the East. With the words of the Apostle Paul, who shed his blood for the Lord in this city, I would like to say to you: “Grace to you and peace from God, our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 1:7).
This meeting and the prayer we will raise together today to the Lord invoke precisely the gift of peace. We are in fact consternated by all that continues happening in the Middle East, especially in Iraq and Syria. Shed there, on hundreds of thousands of innocent children, women and men, is the terrible violence of bloody conflicts, which no reason can justify or permit. There our Christian brothers and sisters, as well as different religious and ethnic minorities, are accustomed, unfortunately, to suffer daily great trials.
In the midst of so much pain, for which I implore an end, every day we see Christians that go on the way of the cross, following meekly in the footsteps of Jesus, uniting themselves to Him, who has reconciled us with His cross, “bringing hostility to an end (Ephesians 2:16).” These brothers and sisters are models that exhort us to remain with the Lord in every circumstance, to embrace His cross, to trust in His love. They indicate to us that the presence of Jesus is always at the center of our faith, who invites us, also in adversity, not to tire of living His message of love, of reconciliation and of forgiveness. We learn this from the martyrs and from all those who again today, also at the cost of their life, remain faithful to the Lord and with Him overcome evil with good (cf. Romans 12:21). We are grateful to these our brothers, who impel us to follow Jesus’ way to defeat enmity. As the Blood of Christ, shed out of love, has reconciled and united, making the Church blossom, so the blood of martyrs is the seed of Christian unity. This calls us to spend ourselves with fraternal charity for communion. I thank God for the firm fraternal bond that already exists between us and that this visit, so pleasing and precious, reinforces further. Many significant steps have already been taken. Your beloved predecessor, the Catholicos –Patriarch Mar Dinkha IV, that I had the joy to meet two years ago, signed with Saint John Paul II here at Rome, the Joint Christological Declaration. This enables us to confess the same faith in the mystery of the Incarnation. This historic goal has opened the way to our pilgrimage towards full communion, a path that I ardently desire to continue. I confirm the Catholic Church’s commitment to this course, for the benefit of our communities, which often already live in close contact. Therefore, I earnestly hope that the Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Assyrian Church of the East is able to help us smooth the way towards the much awaited day, in which we will be able to celebrate the Lord’s Sacrifice at the same altar, as a real sign of fully re-established ecclesial communion.
In the meantime, we have the opportunity to take quick steps, growing in mutual knowledge and witnessing the Gospel together. May our closeness be leaven of unity. We are called to work together, in charity, wherever possible, so that love indicates the way of communion. In Baptism, we rediscovered the foundation of real communion between us. Catholics and Assyrians, “for by one Spirit, we were all baptized” (1 Corinthians 12:13); we belong to the one Body of Christ, we are brothers in Him. We proceed with this certainty, walking confidently together, nourishing – in prayer and especially at the Lord’s altar – the charity that “binds everything together in perfect harmony” (Colossians 3:14). It resets fractures and heals lacerations. Let us not tire of asking the Lord, divine doctor, to heal the wounds of the past with the beneficent anointing of His mercy.
It will also do us good to renew the common memory of our evangelizing activity. It finds its roots in the communion of the primitive Church. Originating from there was the spread of the Gospel that, at the dawn of the faith, reached Rome and the lands of Mesopotamia, cradle of very ancient civilizations, giving birth to flourishing Christian communities. The then great evangelizers, the saints and martyrs of all times, all fellow citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem, exhort us and accompany us now to open, together, fruitful paths of communion and witness.
Holiness, beloved Brother, with joy and affection I wish to express my gratitude for your visit and for the gift of praying together today for one another, to invoke the protection and custody of the Lord, to ask that His merciful will be fully received and fraternally witnessed by us.