Pope: Eastern Catholic Church persecuted by communism and fanaticism

The solidarity of the whole Catholic world "has come to meet the emergencies of wars and migrations, but above all it has been able to guarantee the life of the Churches, pastoral and evangelization activities, social and welfare works". The distinctive identity and vocation of Jerusalem "must be preserved beyond the various tensions and disputes".

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - The solidarity that has allowed the Eastern Catholic Churches to continue the hard-tested Gospel witness, “often amid sufferings and persecution, first by the totalitarian regimes of Eastern Europe and then, more recently, by forms of allegedly religious fundamentalism and fanaticism, to say nothing of apparently interminable conflicts, especially in the Middle East.".

The concern and solidarity of the entire Catholic Church for Eastern Christians was expressed today  by Pope Francis in his address to the participants in the Meeting of the Reunion of Aid Agencies for the Oriental Churches (ROACO), convened in Rome on the occasion of their 91st plenary assembly  which year coincides with the 50th anniversary of the foundation of the same ROACO.

In the document, Francis emphasizes that, "thanks to the generosity of many faithful throughout the world", it was possible for the Eastern Catholic Churches, both in the mother country and in the Diaspora, to develop. "The concrete solidarity that you have shown has helped meet emergency situations resulting from wars and movements of migration, but above all it has helped ensure the very existence of the Churches, their activities of pastoral care and evangelization, and their social and charitable works. All these make manifest the face of Christ’s Church, which proclaims the Gospel in action and in word, thus making present God’s charity for mankind".

"The Oriental Catholic Churches, as living witnesses to their apostolic origins, are called in a special way to protect and pass on a spark of Pentecostal fire. They are called daily to discover anew their own prophetic presence in all those places where they dwell as pilgrims. Beginning with Jerusalem, the Holy City, whose identity and particular vocation needs to be safeguarded beyond different tensions and political disputes, Christians, even though present as a small flock, draw strength from the Spirit for their mission of witness. Today that mission is more urgent than ever before. From the holy places, where God’s plan was fulfilled in the mystery of the incarnation, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, may there come about a renewed spirit of strength to inspire Christians in the Holy Land and the Middle East to embrace their special vocation and to offer an account of their faith and their hope. May the sons and daughters of the Oriental Catholic Churches cherish their prophetic charge to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus, even in settings that are often even more secularized than in the West, where they come as immigrants or refugees. May they find a welcome, both on the practical level and in the Church’s life, as they seek to preserve and enrich the patrimony of their various traditions. These men and women, thanks also to your help, can bear witness to us, whose hearts are often dulled, that it is still worth living and suffering for the Gospel, even as a minority, or the object of persecution, for the Gospel is the joy and the life of men and women of every age".