Pope: "I ask for forgiveness for what we have done” to encourage divisions among Christians
Vatican City ( AsiaNews) - "Healing wounds that are still open" among Christians, "encouraging" the path of peace and "confirming the faith of the Christian communities, who suffer so much and express the gratitude of the whole Church for the presence of Christians in that area and throughout the Middle East".
Pope Francis dedicated his address to the 40 thousand people in St Peter's Square for the general audience to his pilgrimage to Jordan , Palestine and Israel. During the audience he renewed his appeal for "forgiveness for what we have done to encourage this division" between Christians and asked those present join in the prayer for peace with the presidents of Israel and Palestine.
The Pope, who yesterday had gone to the basilica of St. Mary Major yo thank Our Lady for the success of the pilgrimage, particularly asked faithful to join in prayer for peace in the Middle East, for which the presidents of Israel and Palestine will join the Pope at the Vatican. "Please - he said - I ask you not to leave us alone, pray, pray so that the Lord will give peace to this blessed land. I count on your prayers, pray, pray a lot".
"The main purpose of this pilgrimage - he said earlier - was to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the historic meeting between Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras. This was the first time a Successor of Peter visited the Holy Land: Pope Paul VI thus inaugurated, during the Second Vatican Council, the foreign journeys outside Italy of Popes in the contemporary era. That prophetic gesture by the Bishop of Rome and the Patriarch of Constantinople set a milestone in the suffered journey towards the unity of all Christians, which has since taken significant steps. So my meeting with His Holiness Bartholomew, beloved brother in Christ, was the highlight of the visit. Together we prayed at the tomb of Jesus, and we were with the Greek- Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilos III, the Patriarch of the Armenian Apostolic Church Nourhan, as well as archbishops and bishops of different churches and communities, civil authorities and many of faithful". And "this really hurts so much, it makes my heart sick. We are still divided. In that place where the announcement of the Resurrection rang out, where Jesus gives us life , we are still divided, but above all, in a celebration charged with mutual brotherhood, esteem and affection, we heard the strong voice of the Good Shepherd, of the Risen One who wants us to all be one, His own flock; We felt the desire to heal the wounds that are still open and resolutely keep on the path towards full communion". "Once again, as previous Popes have done, I ask forgiveness for what we have done to encourage this division and ask the Holy Spirit to help us to heal the wounds that we have caused to others, our brothers. We are all brothers and sisters in Christ and with Patriarch Bartholomew we are friends, brothers, and we share the desire to walk together, to do everything we can do today: to pray together, work together for the flock of God, to seek peace, protect creation, so many things we have in common. And as brothers we must go forward".
Another purpose of the trip was to bring encouragement "to journey towards peace " that is, "at the same time God's gift and the task of men". "I did this in Jordan, Palestine, Israel. And I've always done this as a pilgrim, in the name of God and man, carrying a great compassion in my heart for the children of that land who for too long have had to coexist with war and have the right to finally know days of peace! This is why I urged Christians to allow themselves be anointed by the Holy Spirit, to be ever more capable of gestures of humility, brotherhood and reconciliation" . "Humility, brotherhood, reconciliation": the Spirit allows you to have these attitudes in everyday life, with people of different cultures and religions, and so to become artisans of peace". Peace is hand made. There are no industries of peace, no. It is crafted by hand every day, with an open heart because it is the gift of God. This is why I have urged Christians to allow themselves be annointed".
"In Jordan, I thanked the authorities and people for their efforts in hosting refugees
from many war zones, a humanitarian effort that deserves and requires the
continued support of the international community. I was struck by the generosity
of the people of Jordan in their reception of refugees, the many fleeing war in
that area. May the Lord bless this friendly people, bless them abundantly. And
we must pray that the Lord bless this welcome and ask all international
institutions help the people in their efforts to receive these refugees".
"During the pilgrimage to other places, I also encouraged the authorities concerned to continue their efforts to ease tensions in the Middle East, especially in the troubled Syria, as well as to continue the search for an equitable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. That's why I invited the President of Israel and the President of Palestine, both men of peace and builders of peace, to come to the Vatican to pray with me for peace". "And please, I ask you, do not leave us alone: pray, pray so that the Lord may give us peace, give us peace in that blessed land! I count on your prayers. Pray with great strength, pray, at this time, pray for peace".
pilgrimage to the Holy Land was also an opportunity to confirm the faith of the
Christian communities, who suffer so much, and express the gratitude of the
whole Church for the presence of Christians in that area and throughout the
Middle East. These brothers and
sisters are courageous witnesses of hope and charity, 'salt and light' in
that Land. With their life of faith and prayer, and appreciated educational
and charitable activities, they operate in favor of reconciliation and
forgiveness, contributing to the common good society".
The trip was also a way to "bring a word of hope, but I also received as much in turn! I received from brothers and sisters who hope 'against hope' through so much suffering, like those of the many who have fled their country because of the conflict, such as those who, in different parts of the world, are despised and discriminated against because of their faith in Christ. Let us continue to stay close to them". "We pray for them - concluded the pope - and for peace in the Holy Land and throughout the Middle East. The prayer of the whole Church also supports the path towards full unity among Christians, so that the world may believe in the love of God who in Jesus Christ has come to dwell among us".