Pope's Address to Synod of Syriac Catholic Church

«So many have fled to take cover from an inhumanity that throws entire populations onto the streets, leaving them without means of subsistence»

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Here is a translation of Pope Francis’ address to His Beatitude Ignace Youssif III Younan, Patriarch of Antioch of the Syrians, and bishops and faithful of the Syro-Antiochene Community, on the occasion of the annual Synod of the Syriac Catholic Church. The Pope gave the address this morning in the Vatican:

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Excellences, Reverend Fathers,

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

I greet you cordially and thank you for your visit. Through you, I wish to have my greeting reach your communities, scattered around the world, and to express my encouragement, in particular to those of Iraq and Syria, living moments of great suffering and fear in face of the violence. And I accompany these sentiments of solidarity and compassion with my remembrance in prayer.

On the occasion of this gathering of yours at Rome, you asked me if you could hold a Synod outside of the Patriarchal territory. I was happy to agree to facilitate your meeting, geared to recognizing the impelling needs of your Church and to respond to the spiritual expectations of the faithful. In particular, you are undertaking an endeavour of reform of the Divine Liturgy, at the service of the Word of God, which should make possible a new impetus of devotion. This endeavour has required intense reflection on the Tradition and much discernment, knowing how sensitive the assembly of the faithful is to the great gift of the Word and of the Eucharist.

The difficult situation in the Middle East has caused, and continues to cause, the displacement of faithful to Eparchies of the diaspora, and this makes you face new pastoral challenges. It is a challenge: on one hand, to remain faithful to the origins; on the other, to be inserted in different cultural contexts, working at the service of the salus animarum and of the common good.

This movement of faithful to countries considered safer impoverishes the Christian presence in the Middle East, land of prophets, of the first preachers of the Gospel, of martyrs and of so many saints, cradle of hermits and of monasticism. All this obliges you to reflect on the situation of your Eparchies, which are in need of zealous pastors, as well as of courageous faithful, capable of witnessing the Gospel in the confrontation, at times not easy, with persons of different ethnicities and religions. So many have fled to take cover from an inhumanity that throws entire populations onto the streets, leaving them without means of subsistence. Try to coordinate your efforts with the other Churches to respond to the humanitarian needs, be it of those who remain in the homeland, be it of those who have sought refuge in other countries.

Now, coming back to your Sees, you are heartened by this experience of communion lived near the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul; a communion that today finds particular expression here, in elevating to the Lord, together with the Successor of Peter, a prayer of gratitude and of supplication.

I exhort you, dear brothers, to continue in your pastoral commitment and in the ministry of hope at the service of the venerated Syro-Catholic Church. I greet with affection the faithful who accompany you, in which I see the different communities represented by them. I invite you to bring to all the expression of my closeness and of my prayer to the Lord.

While I entrust each one of your communities to the protection of the Mother of God, of Saint Ignatius of Antioch and of Saint Ephrem, I impart to you, to your priests, to the men and women religious and to all the faithful, my heartfelt Apostolic Blessing, pledge of peace and of consolation of our All Merciful, One and Triune God.

[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]
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