Pope to Mideast Christians: Stay in Homeland

Pays Homage to Those Who Suffer for Gospel

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 25, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is expressing his hopes for Christians of the Middle East: to persevere in their faith, and to stay in their homelands, despite the many sacrifices involved.



The Pope made this appeal when he addressed participants of the Assembly of Societies for Aid to Eastern Churches (ROACO).

"We all desire for the Holy Land, Iraq and the Middle East the gift of a stable peace and solid coexistence," the Holy Father said. "These are born from respect of human rights, of families, communities and peoples, and by the overcoming of religious, cultural or social discrimination."

ROACO is an organization that exists to support these rights. Founded in 1968 by the Congregation for Eastern Churches, twice a year it brings together agencies committed to supporting the Churches of the East in various dimensions.

In the Pontiff's multilingual address, he offered a message to Christians of the East.
 
"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," he said.

Benedict XVI also encouraged those who have migrated to remember their origins, particularly their religious heritage.

"I wish to pay special homage to Christians who suffer violence because of the Gospel, and I commend them to God," he said.

Synod

The Bishop of Rome mentioned the common task of preparing for the special synod on the Middle East, which will be held in Rome in October.

Alluding to the theme of the synod, he said, "I thank God for this initiative, which is already producing the beneficial fruits of 'communion and witness' for which the synod was initially convoked."

"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," the Pope concluded. "In the 'little flock' 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.'"

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Full text: www.zenit.org/article-29708?l=english