Pope: The Churches of the East are alive, despite persecution and terrorism
Receiving the participants at the "Reunion of Aid Agencies for the Oriental Churches" Assembly, Francis recommends the formation of the clergy. "Let us not forget that in the East even today, Christians - no matter whether Catholics, Orthodox, or Protestants - spill their blood as a seal of their witness."
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - " Let us not forget that in the East even today, Christians - no matter whether Catholics, Orthodox, or Protestants - spill their blood as a seal of their witness" said Pope Francis today receiving participants at the " Reunion of Aid Agencies for the Oriental Churches" (ROACO). He also recalled that the Oriental Churches have suffered "terrible waves of persecution" and are still victims of "fundamentalist terrorism," even though there are signs of the return of so many Christians who have fled.
The Pope recommended that the Oriental Churches continue to devote particular attention to the formation of the clergy and to support "the projects and initiatives that authenticly build the Church."
Francis, based on the Centenary of the Oriental Church Congregation, said that "for decades there have been dramatic events: Eastern Churches have often been invested by terrible waves of persecution and tragedy, both in Eastern Europe and in the Middle East. Strong emigration has weakened its presence in the territories where for centuries it had flourished. Now, thanks to God, some of them have returned to freedom after the painful period of totalitarian regimes, but others, especially in Syria, Iraq and Egypt, see their children suffer because of the continuing war and the senseless violence perpetrated by fundamentalist terrorism ".
"All these events have led us through the experience of the Cross of Jesus: it is the cause of disturbance and suffering, but at the same time it is a source of salvation." "That is why I am glad that you could have reflected, along with some representatives of the Churches, on the important reality of the initial formation of seminarians and the permanent priesthood. We are aware of the choice of radicalism expressed by many of them and the heroism of the testimony of dedication alongside their often-stricken communities. But we are also aware of the temptations we may encounter, such as the search for a social status recognized by the consecrated in some geographic areas, or a way of exercising the role of guide according to human affirmation or according to patterns of culture and the environment " .
"The effort the Congregation and the Agencies have to carry out is to support the projects and initiatives that are truly building up the Church. It is essential to always feed the style of evangelical closeness: in the Bishops, because they live it toward their priests, so that they may feel the caress of the Lord of the faithful entrusted to them. But safeguarding all grace in keeping the disciples of the Lord, starting with the first who learn to be last with the last. The seminarian and the young priest will thus feel the joy of being a collaborator of the salvation offered by the Lord, who is bent down like the Good Samaritan to pour the oil of consolation and the wine of evangelical hope on the wounds of human hearts and stories. "
"Let us always hear living stones close to Christ, who is the cornerstone! The Eastern Churches preserve many venerable memories, churches, monasteries, places of saints: they should be kept and preserved, also thanks to your help, thus encouraging pilgrimage to the roots of the faith. But when it is not possible to repair or maintain the structures, we must continue to be the living temple of the Lord, remembering that the "clay" of our believing existence was shaped by the hands of the "potter", the Lord, who infused into it his vivifying spirit. Let us not forget that in the East even today, Christians - no matter whether Catholics, Orthodox, or Protestants - spill their blood as a seal of their witness. Eastern believers, if forced to emigrate, should be welcomed in the places where they arrive, and can continue to live according to their own ecclesial tradition. In this way your work, dear agents of the Agencies, will be a bridge between the West and the East, both in the countries of origin and in those from which you come."