11/20/2016, 15.16
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Card Zenari addresses Pope: Church of Mercy where millions are "left dead or half-dead"

by Card. Mario Zenari

In his greetings to the pontiff, the new cardinal, the apostolic nuncio to Syria, highlights some elements in Pope Francis’s pontificate and the Church's commitment to being "Good Samaritan" in many parts of the earth, experiencing the joy of faith and martyrdom.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Here is the full text of the greetings the new Cardinal Mario Zenari, apostolic nuncio in Syria, addressed yesterday to Pope Francis on the occasion of the Public Consistory in Saint Peter's Basilica, when Zenari and 16 other bishops and priests received the cardinal's biretta. Courtesy of the author.

Most Blessed Father,

We are very grateful to you for granting us a special title of communion with the Church of Rome, which, according to the famous expression of St. Ignatius of Antioch, "presides over the communion of charity" (Letter to the Romans 1,1).

You called us from all continents: from the region regarded as the "cradle of Christianity" where the disciples were called Christians for the first time (Acts 11: 26); from the young and dynamic Churches; from the old continent and from the New World. This is an eloquent sign of the universality of the Church in the various and beautiful expressions of the one faith.

We come from various ecclesial experience: service to the Holy See, pastoral ministry, courageous witnesses of faith.

From the moment that your Holiness opened the Holy Door of the Cathedral of Bangui (Central African Republic) and of this basilica, the evangelical motto Misericordes Sicut Pater (Le 6:27) has continued to resonate in all the cathedrals of the world, and spread like a joyful and beneficent wave, echoing everywhere the praise to God for his infinite mercy, together with the renewed commitment of the practice of corporal and spiritual works of mercy.

The Church has felt several times invited by Your Holiness to be a "Church that goes forth", that goes to all kinds of existential peripheries, to bring with courage to all corners of the earth the light of faith (Lumen Fidei) and the Good News of the Gospel (Evangelii gaudium), to proclaim and bear witness to the joy of family love, together with the balm of mercy (Amoris laetitia), to resonate the Canticle of the Creatures (Laudato si’) and walk on the path of ecumenical and interreligious dialogue.

Your Holiness has repeatedly mentioned the heroic testimony of faith, including the shedding of the blood, by our brothers and sisters in different parts of the world: more numerous today, you stressed, than at the beginning of Christianity. The Church of Christ, as St Augustine said, continues its pilgrimage between the "persecutions of the world and the consolations of God" (St Augustine Civ. Dei xviii, 51, 2. Lumen Gentium 1). The beloved is visited by her Dear One when her head is "wet with dew and locks with the drops of the night" (Ct 5: 2), according to the commentary of St Ambrose to this passage from the Canticle of Canticles, when her body suffer (Commentary on Psalm 118 in the Liturgy of the hours, III, p. 445). And so the Church, even though covered in human frailty, appears "Sicut Sponsa Ornata Monilibus Suis"  (Is. 61, 10), bride adorned with jewels, including the purple of martyrdom.

The Church is the "Good Samaritan", Your Holiness noted again, who bends down to today’s often "unfortunate" people, left half dead by the roadside, wounded in body and spirit, and she is called to heal and to pour on their wound the “oil and wine" of divine compassion.

Holy Father, some of us come from places where many, millions of people are "unfortunate", adults and children, left dead or half-dead on the streets of their villages and neighbourhoods, or under the rubble of their homes and schools, as a result of brutal and bloody violence, inhuman and intractable conflicts, whose tragic consequences fall very often on defenceless civilian populations, causing immense suffering and humanitarian disasters of enormous proportions. Thus, some regions of the world have become places for all-out works of mercy by many "Good Samaritans" – churches, humanitarian organisations, people of all faiths, or people simply moved by feelings of human compassion.

In Her, the successor of Peter, we see with deep gratitude not only the "Sollicitudo omnium Ecclesiarum", but also the tireless work to end violence and wars in various parts of the world, bring reconciliation and peace, give hospitality to refugees, and bring solidarity between nations and integral development to peoples.

Sustained by the grace of the Jubilee Year, Your Holiness's gift to the faithful of the whole world, the Church will continue with renewed vigour to sing with the psalmist:

"Misericordias Domini in Aeternum Cantabo" (Ps 89), under the merciful gaze of the "Mater Misericordiae".

Thank you, Holy Father!

Rome, 19 November 2016

+ Apostolic Nuncio Mario Zenari

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