Pope Francis on Sunday sent a letter to Pastors in the Middle East, thanking them for leading the Divine Liturgies to pray for peace. The Catholic Patriarchs of the Middle East also consecrated the region to the Holy Family.
Speaking at the Sunday Angelus, Pope Francis urged Christians throughout the world to pray for peace in the Middle East. (Read: The Papal Foundation Gives Out $9M in Grants for Charity Projects)
“May the Lord sustain the efforts of those who work for dialogue and fraternal coexistence in the Middle East, where the Christian faith was born and is alive, despite the sufferings,” the Pope said.
In a separate letter to Catholic Patriarchs, Pope Francis recalled his Apostolic Visits to the Middle East, starting with his pilgrimage to the Holy Land, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Iraq.
“Ever since the beginning of my pontificate I have sought to be near to your sufferings,” he said, pointing out that he has often invited the Church to pray and assist Syria and Lebanon.
Holy Family: Identity and Mission
Pope Francis then reflected on the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, to which the Middle East was consecrated on Sunday. (Read: What Foods Did the Holy Family Eat Back in the Day?)
He said the Holy Family represents Middle Eastern Catholics’ identity and mission. “Above all, it safeguarded the mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God, and was built around Jesus and lived for Him.”
The Pope called the Holy Family “a mystery of humility and submission,” which was widely recognized by the great and small alike, but which was persecuted by those who seek only worldly power.
Vocation Inspired by the Spirit
Pope Francis urged all Catholics in the Middle East to rediscover how each community can fulfill its vocation in the consecration to the Holy Family. (Read: 3 Ways the Holy Family Inspires Us to Keep the Faith)
He said this entails “not only asking for the just recognition of your rights as citizens of that beloved land, but also living your mission to take care of and witness to your apostolic origins.”
The Pope lamented the violence that often plagues the region, recalling that human projects for peace must rely on the “healing power of God.”
“Do not try to slake your thirst at the poisoned wellsprings of hate,” he said, “but let the fields of your hearts be irrigated by the rays of the Spirit, as the great saints of your respective traditions have done: Copts, Maronites, Melkites, Syriacs, Armenians, Chaldeans, and Latins.”
Light of Faith
The Pope concluded his message by recalling the many civilizations which have been born and died in the Middle East. Then, he urged Middle Eastern Catholics to persevere in the faith and in their prayers for peace, under the banner of “the prophecy of human fraternity.”
“May you truly be salt for your lands,” he said. “Give flavor to the life of our societies, seeking to contribute to building up the common good, according to the principles of the Social Doctrine of the Church.”