Papal Address to Aid Agencies for Eastern Churches
"We All Desire ... Stable Peace and Solid Coexistence"
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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 25, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today on receiving in audience members of the Assembly of Societies for Aid to Eastern Churches (ROACO).
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Venerated Brothers in the Episcopate and the Priesthood,
Dear Members and Friends of ROACO,
I welcome you with joy for the summer session of the Reunion of Aid Agencies for the Oriental Churches, and my heartfelt thanks to Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, for the greeting he addressed to me. I return it accompanied by my remembrance in prayer to the Lord and I extend it to the archbishop secretary, to the undersecretary and to the collaborators of the dicastery, with a cordial thought for the papal representative in Jerusalem, in Israel and Palestine, for the Maronite archbishop of Cyprus and the Father Custos of the Holy Land, gathered here with the representatives of the international Catholic agencies and of Bethlehem University. I express to all my gratitude and that of the whole Church, in particular of the pastors and of the Eastern and Latin faithful of the territories entrusted to the Oriental Congregation and of all those who have emigrated from the homeland.
We all desire for the Holy Land, Iraq and the Middle East the gift of a stable peace and solid coexistence. These are born from respect of human rights, of families, communities and peoples, and by the overcoming of religious, cultural or social discrimination. I entrust you to God, but also to you the appeal I launched in Cyprus for the Christian East. As instruments of ecclesial charity, continue collaborating for the construction of justice, liberty and peace!
I encourage the brothers and sisters who, in the East, share the inestimable gift of baptism, to persevere in the faith and, despite the many sacrifices, to stay where they were born. At the same time, I urge the Eastern migrants not to forget their origins, above all the religious. Their fidelity and human and Christian coherence depend on it. I wish to pay special homage to Christians who suffer violence because of the Gospel, and I commend them to God. I continue to count on the leaders of nations to guarantee in a real way and everywhere, without distinction, the public and community profession of the religious beliefs of each one.
Last year, on the occasion and because of the Year for Priests, I requested that special attention be given to the ministers of Christ and of the Church. Abundant fruits of holiness have arisen not only for priests, but also for the whole people of God. I pray to the Holy Spirit that He confirm these signs of divine favor through the gift of vocations, which the ecclesial community so needs, both in the East as well as the West.
I am happy to see that the Catholic Eastern Churches have collaborated zealously in the concretion of the objectives of the Year for Priests and that ROACO's aid works have also supported them in this area. You not only considered the formation of the candidates to Holy Orders, which is a constant priority, but also the needs of the clergy active in the pastoral care of vocations as, for example, spiritual and cultural updating and aid to priests, above all in the difficult but at the same time fruitful phase of sickness and old age. Thus you contribute to radiate in the Church and in present-day society the precious and indispensable gift of the priestly service. In the ancient world, the East was the headquarters of great schools of priestly spirituality. The Church of Antioch, to give an example, produced exceptional saints: extremely educated priests, who did not put themselves forward but Christ and the Apostles. They were entirely dedicated to the proclamation of the Word and to the celebration of the divine mysteries. They were able to touch persons profoundly in their conscience and to reach what merely human means cannot reach.
Dear friends, with your commitment you contribute above all to the fact that the priests of the Eastern Churches can be, in our time, echo of that spiritual heritage. In the network of school and social institutions, which is, in fact, one of your endeavors, it will give a strong impulse to flower in a firm pastoral perspective. When priests are guided in their service by truly spiritual motives, then the laity also is reinforced in its commitment to be engaged in temporal things according to their own Christian vocation.
We now have the common task of preparing for the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops. I thank God for this initiative, which is already producing the beneficial fruits of "communion and witness" for which the synod was initially convoked. Last year at Castel Gandolfo, I had the pleasure of announcing this Synodal Assembly during a meeting of fraternal prayer and reflection with the Patriarchs and Major Archbishops of the Eastern Churches. During my recent visit to Cyprus, which I recall with much gratitude to God and to those who welcomed me, I consigned the Instrumentum Laboris of this Special Assembly to representatives of the Episcopate of the Middle East. I am pleased at the broad cooperation provided thus far by the Eastern Churches and for the work which, from the beginning, R.O.A.C.O. has done, and continues to do for this historical event. This joint effort will have fruitful results because of the presence of some of your representatives at this episcopal gathering and your ongoing relationship with the Congregation for the Eastern Churches.
Dear friends, I ask you to contribute with your works to maintain alive the "hope that does not disappoint" among the Christians of the East (Romans 5:5; cf. Instrumentum laboris, Conclusions). In the "little flock" (Luke 12:32) that they make up already operating is the future of God, and the "narrow way" that they are following is described by the Gospel as "way of life" (Matthew 7:13-14). We would always like to be by their side! Confident of the intercession of the most Holy Mother of God and of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, I entrust to the Lord the benefactors, friends and collaborators living and dead, joined in different ways to ROACO, with a particular remembrance of monsignor Padovese, recently deceased, while I impart to each one of you, to those who make up and those who support the international agencies, as well as to all the beloved Eastern Catholic Churches the comforting Apostolic Blessing.
[Translation by ZENIT]