Pope Francis called for a “negotiated solution” to assist those suffering from persecution and violence in Syria and Iraq. The Holy Father made his appeal during an audience with the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Easter Orthodox Churches today at the Vatican.
During his address, the Holy Father thanked the members for promoting unity between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. The Commission met this week to discuss the nature of the Sacraments, particularly Baptism.
“I express my hope that this work will bear rich fruit for our common theological research and help us to experience ever more fully our fraternal friendship,” he said.
The 78 year old Pontiff took a moment to remember His Holiness, Ignatius Zakka Iwas, Patriarch of the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch and All the East. The Patriarch passed away in March 2014 after a being hospitalized for almost a month due to illness.
“Together with you and his own clergy and faithful, I pray for the eternal rest of this dedicated servant of God,” the Holy Father said.
‘A Prolonged and Painful Conflict’
Continuing his address, Pope Francis expressed his sadness and dismay regarding the conflicts in the Middle East, particularly those in Syria and Iraq. Thousands of Christians and Yazidis have been killed or forced to flee as terrorists from the Islamic State have ravaged both countries.
“I think of all those living in the region, including our Christian brothers and sisters, and many minorities, who are experiencing the effects of a prolonged and painful conflict,” he said.
“I join you in praying for a negotiated solution and in imploring God’s goodness and mercy upon all those affected by this immense tragedy.”
The Pope went on to say that all Christians must work together to serve in “the cause of peace and justice. Concluding his address, Pope Francis prayed for the intercession of the martyrs “who have borne courageous witness to Christ in all our Churches” to strengthen the Christians communities in the region.
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