“The blood of the martyrs is the seed of unity in the Church and the instrument of the building up of the kingdom of God, which is a kingdom of peace and of justice.” Pope Francis made this statement when addressing the Patriarch of the Syrian Orthodox Church, Mor Ignatius Aphram II, this morning in the Vatican.
After highlighting how the Patriarch’s visit further strengthens the bonds between the Holy See and the See of Antioch, the Holy Father lamented the persecutions and suffering the Patriarch’s people have been enduring.
The Argentine Pontiff recalled when Metropolitan Mor Gregorios Ibrahim and Metropolitan Paul Yazigi of the Greek Orthodox Church were abducted together more than two years ago, and those priests and many other people from diverse groups, who have been “deprived of liberty.”
Francis invited His Holiness Aphram II to join him in praying for the victims of the brutal violence and all war present in the world. “Let us ask the Lord, too, for the grace of always being ready to forgive and of being workers of reconciliation and peace,” Francis said, noting, “This is what animates the witness of the martyrs.”
In this moment of harsh trial and of sorrow, the Pope called for a further strengthening of the friendship and fraternity between the Catholic Church and the Syrian Orthodox Church.
“Let us hasten our steps along the common path, keeping our gaze fixed on the day when we will be able to celebrate our belonging to the one Church of Christ around the same altar of Sacrifice and of praise,” he said. “Let us exchange the treasures of our traditions as spiritual gifts, because that which unites us is much greater than that which divides us.”
Pope Francis concluded, saying, “I make my own the words of your beautiful Syrian prayer: ‘O Lord, through the intercession of your mother and of all the saints, sanctify us and our dearly departed. May the memory of the Virgin Mary be a blessing for us; may her prayers be strength for our souls. Apostles, martyrs, disciples, and saints, pray for us, that the Lord might give us His mercy.’ Amen.”
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Full Translation: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/pope-s-address-to-patriarch-of-syrian-orthodox-church