01/30/2015, 00.00
VATICAN
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Pope feels "dismay and deep sadness at what is happening in the Middle East, especially in Iraq and Syria"

In a meeting with the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches, Francis prays "for a negotiated solution" to this "immense tragedy".

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Pope Francis spoke again about his "dismay and deep sadness at what is happening in the Middle East, especially in Iraq and Syria," and renewed his prayer "for a negotiated solution". He did so this morning at the meeting of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches.

After noting that "In the last ten years the Commission has examined from an historical perspective the ways in which the Churches expressed their communion in the early centuries, and what this can mean for our pursuit of communion today," the Holy Father noted that "At this time we especially feel dismay and deep sadness at what is happening in the Middle East, especially in Iraq and Syria."

His thoughts went especially to "all those living in the region, including our Christian brothers and sisters, and many minorities, who are experiencing the effects of a prolonged and painful conflict. I join you in praying for a negotiated solution and in imploring God's goodness and mercy upon all those affected by this immense tragedy."

For the pontiff, "All Christians are called to work together, in mutual acceptance and trust, in order to serve the cause of peace and justice. May the intercession and example of the many martyrs and saints who have borne courageous witness to Christ in all our Churches sustain and strengthen you and your Christian communities."

Last Sunday, during the second Vespers of the Solemnity of the Conversion of Saint Paul, at the end of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Pope Francis had already spoken about the need for the various traditions to work together. On that occasion, he reminded everyone that today "many Christians are persecuted and killed without distinction of confession."

As a sign for Christians to overcome their divisions, Francis had already mentioned the "ecumenism of the blood" in the past. In May 2014, during his meeting with Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians, he noted that "the sufferings endured by Christians in these last decades have made a unique and invaluable contribution to the unity of Christ's disciples. As in the ancient Church, the blood of the martyrs became the seed of new Christians. So too in our time the blood of innumerable Christians has become a seed of unity."

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