A consistory to help “our brothers in hardship”
ROME – As the Family Synod has wound up, Pope Francis seized the opportunity of the presence in Rome of a large number of Cardinals to hold on Monday 20 October a consistory on the Middle East. Aside from the Cardinals, Patriarchs of Eastern Churches and Latin Dioceses of the East, were also present in order to share their concerns and to suggest platforms to overcome the crisis.
Pope Francis unrelentlessly deals with the dramatic situation of Christians in the Middle East, precisely in presence of Cardinals, the matter “touching his heart at all times” In their presence the Holy Father sent forth a plea to the international community and also his concern to safeguard at any cost the Christian presence in the Middle East : “We have a common desire for peace and stability in the Middle East, as well as the will to work for a solution through dialogue, reconciliation and political commitment. At the same time, we would like to provide the best possible support to Christian communities to help them hold fast in their region”.
In brief, Cardinal Secretary of State Msgr Parolin brought forward the discussions and conclusions of the Pope’s meeting with the Nuncios of Irak, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Israel, Palestine, Iran which were held in early October. The Patriarchs of the Catholic Church of the East and the Latin Diocese in the same countries have one after the other spoken about the challenges and their sufferings. According to Fr. Lombardi, Director of the Press Hall of the Vatican, the Patriarchs felt “a support and a sign of closeness from the side of the Pope and the College of Cardinals”.
According to an evaluation by Vatican News.va, the Cardinals agreed on the importance for the countries of the area to reshape their future. Many conflicts override the attempts to build peace. Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of faith by the three monotheistic religions. It is necessary to find a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian and Syrian conflicts, and a way to check the upsurge of fighters of the Islamic State. Another plea was set forth, namely for the freedom of religion as innate, basis right, namely in the countries marked by state religion, mostly Islam.
How to stop the flight of Christians
At the conclusion of the consistory, Cardinal Parolin reminded in the course of a press conference “we cannot yield to think of a Middle East free of Christians, who are deemed to play an essential role as makers of peace, reconciliation and development”.
The Church calls on Christians of the East to hold fast to their lands and to “find out conditions of living, of security, of work, of future in the region”, according to the Cardinal’s statement. This solution is far better than emigration, which affect these communities. It is the generous visa offers from States that is at stake; they risk emptying the Middle East out of its Christian presence.
In order to encourage Christians in their steadfastness, the same solutions are heard: carry on the inter-religious dialogue to deepen mutual respect, to encourage peaceful coexistence. It is indeed a delicate mission especially in those countries of the region where each day men, women, children fall victims because of their faith.
The Church calls on pilgrims from all over the world to go on pilgrimage to the Land of the Bible, of Jesus, and of the early Christians to show their support and closeness. Cardinal Parolin further called on Caritas Movement not to stop its mission, of basic importance to help all those, Christians or not, whose freedom is abused.
Pierre Loup de Raucourt