TO THE MEMBERS OF THE CONSULTA
OF THE EQUESTRIAN ORDER OF THE HOLY SEPULCHER OF JERUSALEM
Friday, November 16th, 2018
Dear brothers and sisters!
I welcome you at the conclusion of the Council of Members of the Grand Magisterium and of the Lieutenants of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem. I greet and thank Cardinal Edwin O'Brien, Grand Master, and the Pro-Grand Prior, Bishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa; I greet the Members of the Grand Magisterium, together with the Lieutenants of the nations and of the places where the Order is present. And with you I greet the whole family of knights and ladies from all over the world. My gratitude goes to all of you for the many spiritual and charitable activities you carry out for the benefit of the peoples of the Holy Land.
You have gathered for the work of the Consulta, the general assembly that is celebrated every five years at the headquarters of Peter. Here in the Vatican, you are, in a certain way, at home, as you constitute an ancient pontifical institution placed under the protection of the Holy See. Since the last Consulta of 2013 the Order has grown in the number of its members, in the geographical expansion with the creation of new peripheral articulations, in the material assistance that has offered the Church in the Holy Land and in the number of pilgrimages made by your members. I thank you for supporting pastoral and cultural utility programs and I encourage you to continue your commitment, alongside the Latin Patriarchate, in coping with the refugee crisis which has led the Church to provide a significant humanitarian response in the last five years. the whole region.
It is a good sign that your initiatives in the field of training and health care are open to all, regardless of the communities they belong to and the professed religion. In this way you help to pave the way to the knowledge of Christian values, to the promotion of interreligious dialogue, mutual respect and mutual understanding. In other words, with your meritorious commitment, you too give your contribution to the construction of the path that will lead, we all hope, to the achievement of peace throughout the region.
I know that this week you have placed your attention on the role of local leaders, or lieutenants, present in over thirty nations and areas of the world where your Order is active. Certainly the continuous growth of the Order depends on your incessant and always renewed commitment. In this regard, it is important not to forget that the main purpose of your Order lies in the spiritual growth of its members. Therefore, any success of your initiatives can not be separated from appropriate religious formation programs aimed at each knight and each lady, so that they consolidate their indispensable relationship with the Lord Jesus, especially in prayer, in the meditation of the Holy Scriptures and in the deepening of the doctrine of the church. It is above all the task of you leaders to offer an example of intense spiritual life and concrete adherence to the Lord: you will thus be able to render a valid service of authority to those who are subject to you.
As for your mission in the world, do not forget that you are not a philanthropic agency committed to promoting the material and social improvement of the recipients. You are called to place the evangelical love of your neighbor as the final aim of your works, to witness everywhere the goodness and care with which God loves everyone. The admission into your Order of Bishops, Priests and Deacons is absolutely not an honor. It is part of their tasks of pastoral service to assist those among you who have a responsibility role by providing opportunities for community and liturgical prayer at every level, continuous spiritual opportunities and catechesis for ongoing formation and for the growth of all the members of the Order. .
It is in front of the whole world - which too often turns its gaze to the other side - the dramatic situation of Christians who are persecuted and killed in ever-increasing numbers. In addition to their martyrdom in their blood, there is also their "white martyrdom", such as that which occurs in democratic countries when freedom of religion is limited. And this is the daily white martyrdom of the Church in those places. To the work of material aid to the people so harshly tried, I urge you to always associate the prayer, to constantly invoke Our Lady, whom you venerate with the title of "Our Lady of Palestine". She is the caring Mother and the Help of Christians, for whom she obtains strength and comfort from the Lord in sorrow.
The icon of Our Lady of Persecuted Christians, who will soon be blessing and whom you will all receive to bring her in each of your Lieutenancies, accompany your journey. Let's invoke together Mary's concern for the Church in the Holy Land and, more generally, in the Middle East, together with her special intercession for those whose life and freedom are in danger. I accompany your precious and indefatigable work with my Blessing, and I ask you to please pray for me. Thank you.