Pope Francis has called on the faithful in the Middle East to give credible witness by “adopting a sober manner of life in imitation of Christ.”
Speaking at an audience today at the Apostolic Palace, it was the first meeting of the Holy Father’s pontificate with the Patriarchs and Major Archbishops of the Oriental Churches. They are in Rome for the Plenary Assembly of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches.
In his address, the Pope began by expressing his closeness with the Churches in the Middle East, echoing Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s Exhortation Ecclesia in Medio Oriente: “You are ‘watchful guardians of communion and servants of ecclesial unity.”
“This unity, which you are called to realize in your Churches, responding to the gift of the Spirit, finds its natural and full expression in “indefectible union with the Bishop of Rome”, rooted in the ecclesiastica communio, which you received on the day after your election,” he said. This ecclesiastical communion, he stressed, should be a reminder of the duty to reinforce solidarity within the Patriarchal Synods.
The Holy Father said that by “adopting a sober manner of life in imitation of Christ” they would be enrichged to continue to minister to those who are marginalized. The Pope emphasized the importance of supporting priests in the region.
“I think, above all, of our priests who are in need of understanding and support, also at the personal level,” he said. “They have a right to receive our good example in things that regard God, as in every other ecclesial activity. They ask us for transparency in the management of goods and solicitude towards every weakness and necessity.”
Concluding his address to the Patriarchs and Major Archbishops, the Holy Father Father asked for their prayers and said that he was “happy to listen to all that you wish to communicate to me.”