Vatican City (AsiaNews) - The path to Christian unity and the sufferings of Jesus' followers of the Armenian people in the past and present of many parts of the Middle East were evoked by Pope Francis during his meeting with Aram I, Catholicos the Armenian Apostolic Church of Cilicia this morning in the Vatican, which was followed by a moment of joint prayer.
In his speech to the head of one of the oldest Christian churches, which has about 10 million members, and whose see is in Antilyas, Lebanon, as a result of the Armenian genocide, the Pope recalled the "leading role" of Aram I in the World Council of Churches (he was chairman of the central Committee of the WCC, -ed) and the "effective support" that he continues to give to the Council of Churches of the Middle East, " which plays such an important role in assisting the Christian communities of that region as they face numerous difficulties". The Pope also mentioned the Joint Commission for Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Churches . He added: "I am convinced that on our journey towards full communion we share the same hopes and a similar sense of responsibility as we strive to be faithful to the will of the Lord Jesus Christ." "In these days before Pentecost, we prepare to relive in mystery the miracle of the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the nascent Church. In faith, let us invoke the Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life, that he may renew the face of the earth, be a source of healing for our wounded world, and reconcile the hearts of all men and women with God the Creator".
Pope Francis also noted that the Catholicos, "represents a part of the Christian world that is irrevocably marked by a history of trials and sufferings courageously accepted for the love of God. The Armenian Apostolic Church has had to become a pilgrim people; it has experienced in a singular way what it means to journey towards the Kingdom of God. The history of emigration, persecutions and the martyrdom experienced by so many of the faithful has inflicted deep wounds on the hearts of all Armenians. We must see and venerate these as wounds inflicted on the very body of Christ, and for this very reason a cause for unfailing hope and trust in the provident mercy of the Father".
"Trust and hope. How much these are needed! They are needed by our Christian brothers and sisters in the Middle East, especially those living in areas racked by conflict and violence. But we too need them, as Christians who are spared such sufferings yet so often risk losing our way in the desert of indifference and forgetfulness of God, or living in conflict with out brothers and sisters, or succumbing in our interior struggle against sin. As followers of Jesus Christ, we need to learn humbly to bear one another's burdens and to help each other to be better Christians, better followers of Jesus. So let us advance together in charity, as Christ loved us and gave himself for us, offering himself to God as a pleasing sacrifice (cf. Heb 5:1-2)".