At 10 o’clock this morning, Pope Francis met with the Patriarchs of the Oriental Catholic Churches and the Major Archbishops in the Hall of the Consistory of the Apostolic Vatican Palace. The following is a translation of the words the Pope addressed to those present at the meeting.
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I receive you with joy and a spirit of fraternity in this meeting, in which I have the opportunity for the first time to converse with the Fathers and Heads of the Oriental Catholic Churches. Through your faces I see your Churches, and I would like to assure you, first of all, of my closeness and prayer for the flock that the Lord Jesus has entrusted to each one of you, and I invoke the Holy Spirit, so that He will suggest what we must learn together and put into practice to serve with fidelity the Lord, His Church and the whole of humanity.
Our coming together offers me the occasion to renew our great esteem for the spiritual patrimony of the Christian East, and I renew the great esteem for the spiritual heritage of the Christian East, and to recall Benedict XVI’s description of a Church leader in his post-Synodal exhortation “Ecclesia in Medio Oriente”. “You are, he said ‘watchful guardians of communion and servants of ecclesial unity’”. (n. 40). 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” (Ibid.), rooted in the ecclesiastica communio, which you received on the day after your election. To be inserted in the communion of the whole Body of Christ makes us aware of the duty to reinforce the union and solidarity within the various Patriarchal Synods, “fostering always consensus on questions of great importance for the Church in view of a collegial and unitary action” (Ibid.).
In order for our testimony to be credible we must always seek justice, piety, faith, love, patience and clemency, adopting a sober manner of life in imitation of Christ, who embraced poverty so that we might be enriched; with tireless zeal and with the charity, both fraternal and paternal, that the bishops, priests and faithful, especially those who are alone or marginalised, expect of us. I think, above all, of our priests who are in need of understanding and support, also at the personal level. 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 concern for every weakness or need. All this, the committed application of that authentic synodal practice distinctive of the Oriental Churches”.
With the help of God and of His Most Holy Mother, we know we are able to respond to this call. I ask you to pray for me. And now I am happy to listen to all that you wish to communicate to me and, as of now, I express to you my gratitude.[Translation by ZENIT]