“If one members suffers, all the members suffer together,” said Pope Francis, quoting Saint Paul, to express his grief for the Churches in the world that are constrained daily to witness the rage of violence and terrible acts perpetrated by fundamentalist extremism.” “Your sufferings are our sufferings,” stressed Bergoglio to the members of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Churches, received this morning in audience.
Therefore, he joined in their prayer to invoke “the end of conflicts and the closeness of God to tried populations, especially the children, the sick and the elderly.” The Pope’s thought went particularly to the Bishops, priests, Consecrated and faithful, “victims of cruel kidnappings,” and all those “who have been taken hostage or reduced to slavery.”
Situations of such “tragic suffering,” he lamented, are more easily rooted “in contexts of poverty, injustice and social exclusion, due also to the instability generated by party interests, often external, and by previous conflicts, which produced miserable conditions of life, cultural and spiritual deserts in which it is easy to manipulate and instigate hatred.” “Every day your Churches are close to suffering, called to sow concord and to patiently reconstruct hope, comforting with the peace that comes from the Lord, a peace that we are held to offer together to a wounded and lacerated world,” affirmed the Pontiff.
Francis also hoped that they will be able to continue “together” the “path towards that much awaited day in which we will have the grace to celebrate the Lord’s Sacrifice at the same altar, as sign of “fully re-established ecclesial communion.” In this context, he encouraged the work of the Commission, set up in 2003, in the hope “that your work can indicate precious ways for our course.” He added that “there is always a certainty, which is that that the Apostle Paul proclaimed: we Catholics and Eastern Orthodox “were baptized through one Spirit and we belong to one Body.”
The Pontiff then gave the example of “our many martyrs and Saints, who gave courageous witness to Christ,” so that they can be a strong support to the communities.” He stressed that they “reveal to us the heart of our faith, which does not consist in a generic message of peace and reconciliation, but in Jesus Himself, crucified and risen.”
Like His disciples, “we are called to witness everywhere, with Christian fortitude, His humble love, which reconciles men of every time,” especially “where violence calls for violence and violence sows death.” The answer “is the pure leaven of the Gospel that, without giving in to logics of force, has fruits of life arise also from arid earth and dawns of hope after nights of terror.”
The martyrs, continued Pope Francis, are also the point of reference for the path toward full unity.”
“As in the primitive Church the blood of martyrs was the seed of new Christians, so today may the blood of so many martyrs be the seed of unity between believers, sign and instrument of a future in communion and peace.”