Mar Gewargis III, Catholicos-Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, visits the Vatican. "Amid so much pain, whose end I implore, we see every day Christians who walk the way of the cross, meekly following in the footsteps of Jesus, joining Him who with his cross reconciled us, ‘putting that enmity to death’.”
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis said on Thursday that the blood of those suffering in Syria from “the terrible violence of bloody conflicts that no motive can justify or allow” is the seed of Christian unity.
Pope Francis reiterated the concept of the ecumenism of blood, so dear to him, in his meeting with Catholicos-Patriarch Mar Gewargis III, head of the Assyrian Church of the East, who is currently on a visit to the Vatican (pictured).
The patriarch and the pope, who mentioned the journey the two Churches are undertaking towards full unity, also held a moment of prayer in the Redemptoris Mater Chapel.
The meeting and praying together, said Francis, "invoke precisely the gift of peace. We are indeed dismayed,” he added, “for what continues to happen in the Middle East, especially in Iraq and Syria. The terrible violence of bloody conflicts that no motive can justify or allow is sweeping over hundreds of thousands of innocent children, women and men. There, our Christian brothers and sisters, as well as various religious and ethnic minorities are unfortunately accustomed to suffering great trials every day.
“Amid so much pain, whose end I implore, we see every day Christians who walk the way of the cross, meekly following in the footsteps of Jesus, joining Him who with his cross reconciled us, ‘putting that enmity to death’ (Eph. 2:16).
“These brothers and sisters are models that encourage us in all circumstances to remain with the Lord, to embrace his cross, to trust his love. They show us that in the centre of our faith there is always the presence of Jesus, who invites us, even in adversity, to never tire of living his message of love, reconciliation and forgiveness. We learn this from the martyrs and those who today still, even at the cost of their life, remain faithful to the Lord and with Him conquer evil with good (cf. Rom. 12:21).
“We are grateful to these brothers of ours, who impel us to follow the way of Jesus to defeat enmity. Like the blood of Christ, shed for love, that has reconciled and united making the Church emerge, thus the blood of martyrs is the seed of Christian unity. It calls upon us to invest ourselves with fraternal charity in communion."
"I thank God for the solid fraternal bonds that already exist between us, which this visit, so pleasing and precious, further strengthens. Many significant steps have already been made. Your beloved predecessor, Catholicos-Patriarch Mar Dinkha IV, whom I had the joy of meeting two years ago, signed the Common Christological Declaration here in Rome with St John Paul II.
“It enables us to confess the same faith in the mystery of the Incarnation. This historic milestone has paved the way for our pilgrimage towards full communion, a journey that I long to continue. I confirm the commitment of the Catholic Church to this path so that our already fruitful dialogue can advance.
“In the future it will contribute to re-establishing full harmony for the benefit of our communities, which often already live in close contact. I therefore hope very much that the Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Assyrian Church of the East can help us pave the way toward that long-awaited day in which we can celebrate the Sacrifice of the Lord at the same altar, as a real sign of fully restored ecclesial communion."