Pope to Middle Eastern Christians: Never lose hope

Pope to Middle Eastern Christians: Never lose hope

pope_francis_AP272333323548_620x350(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Thursday met with the “Reunion of Aid Agencies for the Oriental Churches” – ROACO – today at the conclusion of the group’s 86th Plenary Assembly.

The ROACO is a committee which unites funding agencies from various countries around the world for the sake of providing assistance in different areas of life from worship buildings to scholarships, from houses of study and formation to social and health care facilities.

In his address to the members of ROACO, Pope Francis expressed his gratitude for Eastern Catholics, who, through the years have “faced every difficulty for the Christian name” and have “kept the faith.”

He spoke especially about the duty of charity, asking the various aid agencies to “unite faith with charity.” The Holy Father reminded them that “our work will only be effective if it is rooted in faith, nourished by prayer, especially by the Holy Eucharist, the Sacrament of faith and charity.”

Pope Francis also spoke about his concern for “so many brothers and sisters who live in a situation of insecurity and seemingly interminable violence which does not spare the innocent and most helpless.” And he renewed his call to “the leaders of nations and of international organisations, to believers of every religion, and to women and men of good will to put an end to all suffering, to all violence, to all religious, cultural and social discrimination,” calling on them “to do everything possible to alleviate the grave necessities of the stricken populations, especially of Syria, as well as the ever increasing number of refugees and displaced persons.”

The audience with Pope Francis marked the end of the three-day Plenary Assembly. At the Mass opening the meeting on Tuesday, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches – who is also the President of ROACO – called to mind the suffering of so-many people, especially those affected by the crisis in Syria. But he also drew attention to the great witness of charity given by the Christian community present in the Middle East.

The first morning of the Plenary Assembly was dedicated to situation in Syria, with subsequent sessions addressing the challenge of maintaining the Christian presence in the Middle East. Speeches by various Christian leaders also focused on the worrying situation in Egypt, the renewal of the Chaldean Church, and the situation in the Holy Land.


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