Pope tells ROACO that in Ukraine we have returned to the tragedy of Cain and Abel
This morning Francis received in audience the participants in the 95th Plenary Assembly of Reunion of Aid Agencies for the Oriental Churches (ROACO). The latter is an example of the "synodal journey" of the universal Church. From Syria to Tigray, it is committed to alleviate the suffering of peoples. In the Middle East, “ecumenism already exists, first of all, as a local reality” with shared “suffering and witness”.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis met this morning at the Vatican with representatives of the Reunion of Aid Agencies for the Oriental Churches (ROACO) who are in Rome for the organisation’s 95th Plenary Assembly (21-23 June).
In his address, the pontiff said that in order to create a “symphony of charity”, it is necessary to "seek agreement" and avoid "every temptation of isolation and closure" in oneself and in one's own group; instead, one has to remain open to welcome brothers and sisters who want to put themselves at the service of the Eastern Churches.
Turning to current events, Francis noted that “ROACO’s very intuition corresponds to the synodal journey that the universal Church is making", in accordance with a project that involves "different actors", from bishops to pontifical agencies and deputations.
Using again a musical metaphor, the pope explained how important it is “to agree, to listen to one another, which facilitates discernment and leads to shared choices.” The Assembly of Catholic Bishops in Syria during a conference held last March in Damascus is one of the examples he cited.
"In the desert of poverty and discouragement caused by 12 years of war that have prostrated the beloved and tormented Syria, you have been able to discover as a Church that the springs to make the steppes flourish again and give water to the thirsty will flow only if everyone knows how to give up a certain self-referentiality and listen to others to identify the true priorities.”
The pope called on the international community and local authorities to do their duty, so that "they do not extinguish the last flame of hope for a people that is suffering so much.”
Francis mentioned the special assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East and the tenth anniversary, next September, of the Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Medio Oriente promulgated by Benedict XVI during his trip to Lebanon.
In 10 years, the pope points out, many events have occurred, from sad ones “that involved Iraq and Syria, to the upheavals in Lebanon itself.” However, there are also some “lights of hope” such as the “signing of the Document on Human Fraternity in Abu Dhabi”.
“It will be necessary to validate the fruits of the Synod for the Middle East on the ground; meanwhile, it is necessary to find updated tools and suitable ways to express closeness to the Churches of the region", starting with the renewed “work of the coordination table on Syria and Iraq that started a few years ago,” and “including Lebanon.”
Towards the end of his speech, the pontiff urged those present to follow the example “of the Good Samaritan” in the more critical situations, like the “tragedy caused by the conflict that began in the Tigray and once again wounded Ethiopia and partly neighbouring Eritrea,” as well as and “especially the beloved and tormented Ukraine” that saw the return of “the tragedy of Cain and Abel” with its “Luciferian violence”.
Prayers, concrete help in charity and every Christian tool are needed “so that weapons may give way to negotiations.” In this tragic context, the pope expressed gratitude for the work done to bring the affection “of the Church and the pope in Ukraine and the countries that have taken in refugees.”
Lastly, the pontiff also spoke about the Middle East during the audience granted today to the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches.
In this region, Francis explained, “ecumenism already exists, first of all, as a local reality.” Here, “Many believers, I am thinking especially of those in the Middle East but also of those who have emigrated to the West, already live ecumenism in the daily lives of their families, work, and everyday acquaintances. They often experience together the ecumenism of suffering, through shared testimony in the name of Christ, sometimes even at the cost of their lives.”