Vatican City (AsiaNews) – A Mass for “a suffering people”, that of Christians in the Middle East, was celebrated this morning by Pope Francis together with the Patriarch of Antioch, Youssef. A rite that manifested the communion between the See of Peter and the Greek-Melkite Catholic Church.
The celebration, this morning at Casa Santa Marta, took place at the end of the visit to Rome of the Greek-Melkite Catholic bishops, following their synod held in Lebanon at the beginning of February. A visible sign of the ecclesiastical Communion, which was underlined by both the Pope and the Patriarch who gave together the blessing at the end of the celebration.
“This Mass with our brother, Patriarch Youssef – said Francis – will make the apostolic communio: he is the father of a Church, of an ancient Church and comes to embrace Peter, to say ‘I am in communion with Peter’. This is what today’s ceremony means: the embrace of the father of a Church with Peter. A rich Church, with its own theology within Catholic theology, with its own wonderful liturgy and with a people, at this time a great part of this people is crucified, like Jesus. We offer this Mass for the people, for the suffering people, for the Christians persecuted in the Middle East, who give their lives, give their goods, their properties because they are driven away. And we also offer Mass for the ministry of our brother Youssef “.
“I would like to thank you – replied the Patriarch – for this beautiful Mass of communion, in the name of the whole Synod of our Greek-Melkite Catholic Church. Personally, I am truly moved by Your fraternal charity, by the gestures of fraternity, of solidarity that you have shown to our Church during this Mass. We promise to always carry it in our hearts, in all our hearts, clergy and faithful, and we will always remember this event, these historical moments, this moment the beauty of which I cannot describe: this fraternity, this communion that binds all disciples of Christ. Thank you, Holiness.”
Pope Francis spoke yesterday spoke of the suffering of Christians yesterday during the audience to the Greek-Melkite bishops. “In this difficult historical period – he said – among other things, many Christian communities in the Middle East are called to live their faith in the Lord Jesus in the midst of many trials. I sincerely hope that with their testimony of life, the Greek-Melkite bishops and priests can encourage the faithful to remain in the land where Divine Providence has wanted them to be born “. “Never before as now – he added – are Pastors called to demonstrate, before the people of God who suffer, communion, unity, closeness, solidarity, transparency and witness”. “As you know,” he concluded, “I called a day of prayer and fasting for peace on the 23rd of this month. On that occasion I will not fail to mention, in a special way, Syria, hit in recent years by unspeakable suffering “.