ADDRESS OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS
TO THE COMMUNITY OF THE PONTIFICAL ETHIOPIAN COLLEGE IN VATICAN
Saturday 11 January 2020
Dear brothers and sisters!
I am happy to welcome you today and to thank together for the hundred years of the Ethiopian College. I greet the Bishops who have come from Ethiopia and Eritrea, including the two Metropolitans, Cardinal Berhaneyesus and Monsignor Tesfamariam; the student community with the Superiors, in particular the Rector Father and the Vice-Rector; the religious, who work so hard to take care of you, and the lay staff. I greet Cardinal Sandri and Archbishop Vasil 'and I thank the Congregation for the Eastern Churches who support the life of the College, also thanks to the benefactors, to whom I also express gratitude. I greet the Capuchin Friars with the Minister General; the representation of the Pontifical Oriental Institute; and the numerous Ethiopian and Eritrean priests and friars.
The Ethiopian presence within the Vatican walls, first of the church and the pilgrims' hospice, and for a hundred years of the College, brings us back to one word: welcome. Over the centuries, the children of peoples geographically distant from Rome, but so close to the faith of the Apostles in professing Jesus Christ the Savior, have found home and hospitality throughout the tomb of the Apostle Peter.
Very beautiful are the words of the great monk Tesfa Zion, Pietro the Ethiopian, who is buried in the church of S. Stefano degli Abissini, where today and tomorrow you will celebrate the liturgy: «I myself am Ethiopian, a pilgrim from place to place [...] . But nowhere, except in Rome, have I found the peace of mind and body; peace of mind because there is true faith; the quiet of the body, because there I found the Successor of Peter who favors us in our needs ». He enriched the Roman Curia with his wisdom and edited the New Testament print in the Ethiopian language.
You student priests, from Ethiopia and Eritrea, two churches united by the same tradition, bring the richness of the history of your lands among us today, with ancient traditions, the coexistence between men and women belonging to the Jewish religion and the Islamic one, as well as together with the numerous brothers of the Tewahedo Orthodox Church. I was able to meet here in Rome the Patriarch His Holiness Mathias of Ethiopia, to whom I send my fraternal greeting.
Meeting you, I think of many of your brothers and sisters from Ethiopia and Eritrea, whose life is marked by poverty, and until a few months ago by the fratricidal war, for whose conclusion we thank the Lord and those who have committed themselves in the two countries in first person. I always pray that we will treasure the years of pain experienced on both sides, and that we will no longer fall into divisions between ethnic groups and between countries with common roots. You priests, you can always be the architects of good relationships, builders of peace. May the faithful who will be entrusted to you to cultivate this gift of God, medicating the internal and external wounds that you will encounter and trying to help the paths of reconciliation, for the future of the children and young people of your lands.
Many of them, it is sad to remember, driven by hope have left their homeland at the cost of enormous efforts and not infrequently going through tragedies by land and sea. I thank you for the welcome that your faithful have been able to experience and for the commitment that some of you already live in following them pastorally in Europe and on other continents. Much can still be done, and better, both at home and abroad, taking advantage of the years of study and stay in Rome, in a humble and generous service, always on the basis of union with the Lord, to whom we have given our whole existence.
I encourage you to keep the precious ecclesial tradition, always united with the missionary impulse. I also hope that the Catholic Church in your nations will be guaranteed the freedom to serve the common good, both by allowing you students to complete your studies in Rome or elsewhere, and by protecting educational, health and welfare institutions, in the certainty that Pastors and faithful together with all the others, they wish to contribute to the good and prosperity of your nations.
As children of the Churches of Ethiopia and Eritrea, love the Holy Mother of God, Mary Most Holy, so much. In fact, you call yourself Resta Maryam, "fiefdom, property of Mary", and in the monthly liturgical recollection of the Kidana Mehrat, "Pact of Mercy", you know you can entrust every prayer, every supplication to his intercession. In that memory, I ask you to always have a prayer for me and for my intentions.
I thank you and impart my Apostolic Blessing: may it reach your families, your Eparchies, your peoples, all of you. Thank you!
Source: Image VaticanNews.va - Text - Vatican.va - Unofficial Translation