In a message to newly elected Patriarch Mar Gewargis III, Pope Francis expressed his solidarity with Christians in the Middle East suffering persecution.
Mar Gewargis III was elected as the Catholicos Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East on September 18th. The Pope sent the message the day before his departure to Cuba.
The Pope congratulated the Patriarch, conveying his “good wishes and prayerful solidarity” with the Assyrian Church of the East.
“It is my prayer that Your Holiness may be an inspirational pastor for the flock entrusted to your care and an untiring builder of peace and harmony, serving the common good and the good of the entire Middle East,” the Holy Father wrote.
The 78-year-old Pontiff also said that he was praying for persecuted Christians and religious minorities in the Middle East, particularly in Iraq and Syria.
“With you, I ask the Lord to grant them strength so that they may persevere in their Christian witness,” he wrote.
Pope Francis concluded his message to Mar Gewargis saying that he hoped for continued friendship and dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Assyrian Church of the East. “May our heavenly Father fill Your Holiness with peace and strength for the noble task that awaits you,” the Pope write.