Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, began a visit to Lebanon on Monday, November 12, 2018, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the foundation of the Reunion of Aid Agencies for the Oriental Churches (ROACO), reported “Vatican News” in Italian on November 10.
In the course of his visit, which will last until November 16, he will meet with Michel Aoun, President of the Republic, and with charitable organizations aiding Syrian and Iraqi refugees in Lebanon.
The visit is taking place in coordination with the Pontifical Representation at Beirut and with the participation of representatives of L’Oeuvre d’Orient (France), Caritas, Solidarite Orient (Belgium), the John Paul II Foundation (Italy) and other charitable organizations.
Several visits are planned with the charitable organizations present, run by the different Patriarchal Churches and Religious Orders, with particular attention to institutions that help Syrian and Iraqi refugees.
Moments of meeting and reflection will be shared (in particular during the meeting of APECL — Assembly of the Catholic Hierarchy of Lebanon, and the Commission for the Service of Charity), with the Patriarchs and Bishops, including Bishops of Syria, accompanied by the Apostolic Nuncio at Damascus, with Superiors General of Lebanese Orders and Greek-Melkite seminarians. The Cardinal will transmit to all the Pope’s warm greetings and his blessing.
On June 22, 2018, Pope Francis expressed his “great” concern over the situation in the Middle East, when intervening in ROACO’s 91st Plenary Assembly. “There is the risk in the Middle East . . . of effacing Christians. A Middle East without Christians . . . will not be the Middle East,” he said.
In his address, the Pontiff also thanked ROACO for its work. “How many riches there are in the Churches of the Middle East, their theology and their liturgies! We must keep this great tradition and fight for it.” It is “also the juice — so to speak — that comes from the roots to give life to our soul” in the West, teaching the way of contemplation and holiness, he added.