Francis talks about Syria, Holy Land, Mideast and Ukraine in his meeting with participants to the 92nd plenary assembly of the Reunion of Aid Agencies for the Oriental Churches (ROACO). "My mind is still set on Iraq, where I would like to go next year,” said the pope.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis met with participants to the 92nd plenary assembly of the Reunion of Aid Agencies for the Oriental Churches (ROACO). This gave him the opportunity to take stock of the situation of the various Oriental Churches, starting with the Church in the Holy Land and the Middle East, without forgetting the Church in the Ukraine.
Concerned about the situation in Syria, saddened by the anguish of those fleeing from war and famine who find closed ports, Pope Francis "often" thinks "about the wrath God will unleash . . . against the leaders of countries that talk about peace and sell weapons for these wars.”
"Presently, the address by pontifical representatives in some countries, as well as the speakers who have been chosen, will help you hear the cry of the many who were robbed of hope in the past few years. My sad thoughts turn once again to the Syrian tragedy and to the dense clouds that seem to cover it again in some still unstable areas where the risk of an even greater humanitarian crisis looms high.
“The voices of those who have no food, those who have no medical care, who have no school, orphans, the wounded and widows can be heard loud. If the hearts of men are like stone, God’s is not, wounded by the hatred and violence that can be unleashed among his creatures, always able to be moved and take care of them with the tenderness and strength of a father who protects and guides.”
"But sometimes I also think about the wrath of God that will be unleashed against the leaders of countries that talk about peace and sell weapons to make these wars. This hypocrisy is a sin."
"My mind is still set on Iraq, where I would like to go next year, so that it can look forward to the building of the common good by all the components of society, including religious ones, through peaceful and shared participation, and not fall into tensions due to the never-ending conflicts of regional powers.”
"I [also] cannot forget Ukraine and its people, whose wounds caused by the conflict I have tried to alleviate with the charitable initiative to which many Church entities have contributed."
“I hope that the recent announcement in the Holy Land of a second phase of study of the restoration of the Holy Sepulchre, which sees the Christian communities of the Status quo side by side, will be accompanied by the sincere efforts of all local and international actors to arrive soon at peaceful coexistence respectful of all those who live in that land, a sign to all of the Lord’s blessing.”
Francis’s thoughts turned to migrants again. "People on the run cry out on ships in search of hope, not knowing which ports will receive them in Europe, whose ports are open to ships that carry sophisticated and expensive weapons, capable of causing devastation that does not even spare children. This is the hypocrisy I spoke about."
"These days, together with lament and tears, you will hear voices of hope and consolation: They are the echoes of the tireless work of charity also made possible by each of you and the organisations you represent. This shows the face of the Church and contributes to making it alive, in particular by nurturing hope for the young generations.
“Young people have the right to hear the announcement of Christ’s fascinating and demanding word. As we had the opportunity to say during the assembly of the Synod of Bishops last October, when they meet a true and credible witness, they are not afraid to follow him and question themselves about their vocation."
"Please continue and increase your work because in countries and the situations you support, young people can grow in humanity, free from ideological colonisation, with open hearts and minds, appreciating their national and Church roots, full of desire for a future of peace and prosperity, which leaves no one behind or discriminated."
Finally, Francis called for the document he signed in Abu Dhabi with the Great Imam of Al-Ahzar to be made more widely known. The document contains a "good alliance for the future of humanity".
The pontiff also highlighted the need to maintain schools and universities, in Lebanon for example, which represent "true laboratories of coexistence and gyms of humanity to which everyone can easily have access."
The assembly's schedule tomorrow includes a look at "the situation of the Churches in India and Ethiopia". The "situation of the Church in the Holy Land will also be looked at, whilst the aid proceeds of the Good Friday Collection will be verified,” said a note from the Congregation for the Oriental Churches. The situation in the Ukraine will be discussed later.
"The 12th [of June] will be entirely dedicated to reflection on the topic of youth: vocation and education for the Church and for society." The work of the Plenary will end with the Steering Committee Meeting scheduled for Wednesday evening.