Pontiff Shares Sorrows of Mideast Christians

Addresses Members of Order of the Holy Sepulcher

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 5, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI says he shares the "sorrows and difficulties" of the Christian of the Holy Land, who are suffering at hands of political, economic and social instability in the region.



The Pope said this today upon greeting members of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem, who are in Rome for the order's five-yearly assembly. The central theme the weeklong meeting was how to increase aid to Christians of the Holy Land.

The chivalric order seeks to form in its members the spirit and ideal of the Crusades from which it originated. This includes preserving the faith in the Middle East and defending the rights of the Catholic Church in the Holy Land.

In his address, the Pontiff thanked the order for its "generous work," and encouraged them to continue working in the Holy Land as "convinced and sincere ambassadors of peace and love between brothers."

He said Christians in the Holy Land have been "oppressed in recent years by an uncertain and dangerous climate," due to the "political, economic and social crisis of the Middle East."

Benedict XVI expressed his special closeness to all those "who feel obliged" to emigrate: "How can we not share the sorrow of these tried communities?"

The Pope invited the order's members to reflect further on the central point of their spirituality, which is the celebration of the death and resurrection of the Lord, through the special bond that unites them with the Holy Sepulcher.

He said the Equestrian Order was "called to offer an eloquent evangelical testimony, to be builders in our time of an active hope based on the presence of the Risen Lord, who, with the grace of the Holy Spirit, guides and sustains the work of those who dedicate themselves to the edification of a new humanity inspired in the evangelical values of justice, love and peace."