05/11/2018, 14.31
VATICAN
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Pope: the sufferings of persecuted Christians are a call to unity

Francis, receiving the Orthodox primate of the Czech Lands and Slovakia, spoke of the search for unity that does not mean uniformity, but reconciliation of differences in the Holy Spirit ". "To proclaim the Lord is not enough to reaffirm the patterns of the past, but we must listen to the Spirit, who always inspires new and courageous ways to evangelize our contemporaries. Even today in traditionally Christian countries often marked by secularization and indifference ".

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - The suffering of many Christians "persecuted because of the Gospel is an urgent appeal, which challenges us to seek greater unity", a unity that "does not mean uniformity, but reconciliation of diversity in the Holy Spirit". These are some of the considerations expressed by Pope Francis in the meeting he had this morning, Archbishop Rastislav of Prešov, metropolitan of the Czech lands and of Slovakia.

Responding to the Metropolitan, who had spoken of "a disciple meeting another disciple", of "disciples who walk together" and share "the ardent desire" for unity, Francis spoke of the "spiritual bonds that unite us and encourage us to continue in mutual edification and in the common search for peace, a gift of the Risen One. Among these bonds I would like to evoke the presence here in Rome, of the tomb of Saint Cyril, Apostle of the Slavs in the ancient basilica of Saint Clement, whose preaching spread the faith in the lands where your Church carries out her mission".

And inspired by St. Clement, Francis made three considerations.

The first is that "according to tradition, it was the brothers Cyril and Methodius, coming from Thessaloniki, to bring the relics of St. Clement, one of the first Bishops of Rome, who died in exile under the emperor Trajan to Pope Hadrian II. The gesture of Cyril and Methodius reminds us that we Christians have inherited - and we continually need to share - an immense common patrimony of holiness. Among the many witnesses, countless martyrs have professed fidelity to Jesus in past centuries, such as St. Clement, but also in recent times, for example when atheistic persecution affected your countries. Even today the sufferings of many brothers and sisters persecuted because of the Gospel are an urgent appeal, which challenges us to seek greater unity. May the example of Cyril and Methodius help us to enhance this patrimony of holiness that already unites us! ". 

"A second aspect, which the Holy Apostles of the Slavs reminds us of, concerns the relationship between evangelization and culture. Byzantine culture. The holy brothers had the audacity to translate the Gospel message into a language accessible to the Slavic peoples of Greater Moravia. By incarnating the Gospel in a given culture, they gave development to the culture itself. The apostolate of Saints Cyril and Methodius, which Pope John Paul II proclaimed as co-patrons of Europe, remains for all of us today a model of evangelization. To proclaim the Lord is not enough to reaffirm the patterns of the past, but we must listen to the Spirit, who always inspires new and courageous ways to evangelize our contemporaries. Even today in traditionally Christian countries often marked by secularization and indifference".

Saints Cyril and Methodius, finally, "managed to overcome the divisions that arose between Christian communities of different cultures and traditions. In this sense we can say that they were "authentic precursors of ecumenism" (JOHN PAUL II, Letter Slavorum Apostoli, 14). They remind us that unity does not mean uniformity, but reconciliation of diversity in the Holy Spirit. May the witness of Saints Cyril and Methodius accompany us on the journey towards full unity, encouraging us to live this diversity in communion and never be discouraged in our journey, which we are called to do by the Lord's will and with joy".

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