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Welcome! I receive you with joy to render thanksgiving to the Lord, together with the brothers and sisters of the East, represented here by some of their Pastors and by you, Superiors and Collaborators of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches and members of the Agencies that make up ROACO. We are pleasing to God because of our fidelity to Christ, to the Gospel and to the Church, of which the Eastern Catholics have given proof throughout the centuries, making every effort for the Christian name and “keeping the faith” (cf. 2 Timothy 4:6-8). We are close to them in gratitude. I extend my thank you to each of you, and to the Churches of which you are expression, for all that you do in their favor and I return the cordial greeting addressed to me by the Cardinal Prefect. As my Predecessors, I wish to encourage and support you in the exercise of charity, which is the only reason to boast for the disciples of Jesus. This charity flows from the love of God in Christ: the Cross is the summit, luminous sign of the mercy and charity of God towards all, which was poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit (cf. Romans 5:5).
It is a duty for me to exhort to charity, which is inseparable from that faith in which the Bishop of Rome, Successor of the Apostle Peter, is held to confirm the brethren. The Year of Faith drives us to profess even more convincingly the love of God in Christ Jesus. I ask you to support me in the task of joining faith to charity, which is innate to the Petrine service. Saint Ignatius of Antioch has a dense expression with which he describes the Church of Rome: “the Church that presides in charity” (Letter to the Romans, greeting). I invite you, therefore, to collaborate “in the faith and charity of Jesus Christ our God” (Ibid.), reminding you that our work will be effective only if it is rooted in faith, nourished by prayer, especially by the Holy Eucharist , Sacrament of faith and of charity.
Dear friends, this is the first witness we must give in our service to God and to the brethren, and only in this way will every action of ours be fruitful. Continue your intelligent and solicitous work in carrying out well pondered and coordinated projects, which give opportune priority to formation, especially of young people. However, never forget that these projects must be a sign of that profession of love of God that constitutes the Christian identity. In the multiplicity of her components and activities, the Church does not find her security in human means. The Church is God’s, she trusts in His presence and action, and brings to the world the power of God which is love. May the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Medio Oriente be for you a precious reference in your service.
The presence of the Patriarchs of Alexandria of the Copts and of Babylon of the Chaldeans, as well as the Papal Representatives in the Holy Land and in Syria, of the Auxiliary Bishop of the Patriarch of Jerusalem and of the Custos of the Holy Land, takes me with the heart to the Holy Places of our Redemption, and revives in me the intense ecclesial concern for the condition of so many brothers and sisters who live in a situation of insecurity and violence that seems interminable and does not spare the innocent and the weakest. Requested of us believers is constant and confident prayer, that the Lord may grant the longed-for peace, unity in sharing and concrete solidarity. I would like to address again from the depth of my heart an appeal to the leaders of peoples and the international organizations, to believers of every religion and to men and women of good will, so that an end will be brought to all sorrow, all violence, all religious , cultural and social discrimination. May the clash that sows death give way to the encounter and reconciliation that brings life. To all those who are suffering I say forcefully: never lose hope! The Church is on your side, she supports and sustains you! I ask that everything possible be done to relieve the grave needs of the stricken populations, in particular the Syrian, as well as the ever more numerous fugitives and refugees. In fact Saint Ignatius of Antioch asked the Christians of Rome: remember in your prayer the Church of Syria … Jesus Christ will watch over her and your charity” (Letter to the Romans IX, I). I entrust to the Lord of life the innumerable victims and I implore the Most Holy Mother of God for all those who are in the “great tribulation” (Revelation 7:14).
I impart from my heart upon you, upon the Agencies and upon all the Oriental Churches the Apostolic Blessing.[Original text: Italian} [Translation by Zenit]