06/26/2016, 13.26
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The Pope in Armenia asks the Catholicos to bless "this our path towards full unity"

Pope Francis attends the Armenian Apostolic divine liturgy. The program does not include a Catholic mass today, to emphasize the unique Eucharistic mystery. The "common wealth" of the two traditions; the intercession of the Spirit, the Mother of God, the saints, the Armenian martyrs to "re-found unity". "Let us pay heed to the younger generation, who seek a future free of past divisions" and the end of the "scandal" of division among Christians.

Etchmiadzin (AsiaNews) - A liturgy full of yearning for unity among Christians, both sweet and sorrowful, was witnessed this morning by Pope Francis before St. Tiridates in Etchmiadzin, the seat of the Armenian Apostolic Patriarchate: sweet for the many signs of unity expressed; sorrowful because at communion, the Pope could not take the body and blood of Christ.

It was the Pope's desire not to celebrate a mass, but participate in the Armenian Divine Liturgy, to emphasize that the Eucharistic mystery that Catholics and Armenians celebrate is the same. The signs of fraternity between the Armenian Apostolic Church and the Catholic Church have multiplied during the ceremony until the final request of Pope Francis to be blessed by the Catholicos Karekin II: "Your Holiness, in the name of God, I ask you to bless me, bless me and the Catholic Church, to bless this our path towards full unity ".

Yesterday, after the Catholic liturgy, in which the Armenian Patriarch had witnessed, the Pope had invited him onto the popemobile so that together, side by side, they blessed the crowd of faithful. Today not a blessing "on par", but the request to be blessed, as if considering the patriarch superior to himself.

It is no secret that one of the problems that stand in the way of the Orthodox churches (and even the Armenian Apostolic) from full communion with Rome is the fear of being sucked into a hierarchical structure where the Pope is monarch and submits other sister Churches to rites and obligations. Instead, over the past few day, Pope Francis has shown himself to be a brother in the faith.

In his final greeting, translated into Armenian, the Pope explained this new style of ecumenical relations: "May the Armenian Church walk in peace and may the communion between us be complete.  May an ardent desire for unity rise up in our hearts, a unity that must not be “the submission of one to the other, or assimilation, but rather the acceptance of all the gifts that God has given to each.  This will reveal to the entire world the great mystery of salvation accomplished by Christ the Lord through the Holy Spirit".

Francis recalled all its "common wealth" of the two traditions, on earth and in heaven: "the gifts, hopes and concerns of the Church of Christ.  We have felt as one her beating heart, and we believe and experience that the Church is one"; the apostolic brotherhood in heaven among the saints Bartholomew and Thaddeus (first evangelizers of Armenia) and Peter and Paul.

In order to obtain this unity, the pontiff called for "the intercession of the Mother of God, the great saints and doctors, the martyrs, especially the many whom you canonized last year in this place" and the Holy Spirit "make all believers one heart and soul; may he come to re-establish us in unity" bestow on us your fire of love and unity, and “may the cause of our scandal be dissolved by this love” above all the lack of unity among Christ’s disciples".

This unity is a function of the mission: "Let us respond to the appeal of the saints, let us listen to the voices of the humble and poor, of the many victims of hatred who suffered and gave their lives for the faith.  Let us pay heed to the younger generation, who seek a future free of past divisions".

At communion, the Pope stood aside while the patriarch and bishops took the sacred host, at the end of the liturgy Karekin II invited Pope Francis to bless the congregation. Both, together, under the canopy, greeted and blessed the crowd during the final procession.

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