Monday, February 12, 2018

Meeting the Greek-Melkite Synod

At 11:45am this morning (5:45am EST), the Holy Father, Pope Francis received in audience the members of the Greek-Melkite Synod.

Greetings of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
for the meeting with the Greek-Melkite Synod

Your Beatitude,
Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,

I thank you for your visit.  This joyous occasion is possible because of the public manifestation of Ecclesiastical Communion which will be shown tomorrow morning during the Eucharistic celebration and which I have already had the opportunity to grant to Your Beatitude in the letter dated 22 June 2017, following your election as Patriarch, Father and Leader of the Synod of Bishops.

So, once again today, dear Brother, I assure you of my constant closeness in prayer: that the Risen Lord will be close to you to accompany you on the mission that He has entrusted to you.  Mine is a prayer that cannot be separated from the remembrance I hold of our beloved Syria and for the entire Middle East, a region in which your Church is deeply rooted and carries out a precious service fo the good of the people of God.  Yours is a presence which is not limited to the Middle East, but which has extended for many years now to the countries to which many Greek-Melkites have moved in search of a better life.  To those faithful in the diaspora as well and to their pastors, I extend my prayer and my affectionate remembrance.

In this difficult moment in history, many Christian communities in the Middle East are called to live their faith in the Lord Jesus in the midst of many trials.  I sincerely hope that, with their witness of life, Greek-Melkite Bishops and priests will encourage the faithful to remain in the land where divine Providence has desired them to be born.  In the above-mentioned letter which I sent you last June, I recalled the fact that never more so than in these moments are pastors called to manifest, before the people of God who are suffering, the truths of communion, unity, closeness, solidarity, transparency and witness.  I fraternally invite you to continue along this path.  As you know, I have called for a day of prayer and fasting for peace which will take place on the 23rd of this month.  On that occasion, I will be sure to mention in a special way our beloved Syria which has witnessed unspeakable suffering in recent years.

You have come as pilgrims to Rome, to the tomb of the Apostle Peter, at the conclusion of your most recent Synodal session, which was held in Lebanon during the opening days of this month.  This is always a fundamental moment of common journeying, during which the Patriarch and the Bishops are called to make important decisions for the good of the faithful, including through the election of new Bishops, Pastors who are witnesses to the Risen Lord.  Pastors who, just as the Lord did with his disciples, awaken the hearts of the faithful, being close to them, consoling them, being close to them and aware of their needs; Pastors who, at the same time, are accompanying them toward the Lord, to seek the things that are above, where Christ is, not earthly things (cf Col 3:1-2).  We sorely need Pastors who know how to embrace life with the breadth of God's heart, without settling for earthly satisfactions, without being content to carry on what is already in place, but always aiming higher; Pastors who are bearers of the Lord, free from the temptation to remain at low altitudes, freed from the restricted measures of a warm and habitual life; poor Pastors, who are not attached to money and luxuries, Pastors among a poor and suffering people; consistent proclaimers of Easter hope, always on a journey with our brothers and sisters.  While I am pleased to grant the Pontifical Assent to the Bishops you have elected, I would also like to touch with my own hands the greatness of these horizons.

Your Beatitude, Your Excellencies, with all my heart, I renew my gratitude for your fraternal visit.  Once you have returned to your respective Sees and had a chance to meet with your priests, religious men and women and your faithful, remind them that they are held closely in the heart and prayers of the Pope.  May your Holy Mother of God, our Queen of peace care for you and protect you.  And while I have the joy of giving my blessing to you and your communities, I ask you please not to forget to pray for me.  Thank you.

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