Pope 7th Address
Ecumenical Meeting in the Hall of Honor of the Syro-Catholic Patriarchate of Charfet (16 September 2012)
Having consigned the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, and before praying the Angelus, the Holy Father called on "Mary, Our Lady of Lebanon, around whom both Christians and Muslims gather", to intercede "for the people of Syria and the neighbouring countries, imploring the gift of peace".
Benedict XVI went on:
"You know all too well the tragedy of the conflicts and the violence which generates so much suffering. Sadly, the din of weapons continues to make itself heard, along with the cry of the widow and the orphan. Violence and hatred invade people’s lives, and the first victims are women and children. Why so much horror? Why so many dead? I appeal to the international community! I appeal to the Arab countries that, as brothers, they might propose workable solutions respecting the dignity, the rights and the religion of every human person! Those who wish to build peace must cease to see in the other an evil to be eliminated. It is not easy to see in the other a person to be respected and loved, and yet this is necessary if peace is to be built, if fraternity is desired.
"May God grant to your country, to Syria and to the Middle East the gift of peaceful hearts, the silencing of weapons and the cessation of all violence! May men understand that they are all brothers! Mary, our Mother, understands our concern and our needs. Together with the patriarchs and bishops present, I place the Middle East under her maternal protection. May we, with God’s help, be converted so as to work ardently to establish the peace that is necessary for harmonious coexistence among brothers, whatever their origins and religious convictions". (VIS)
At the end of this morning's Mass, Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, invited the Holy Father to consign the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation "Ecclesia in Medio Oriente" to Catholic patriarchs of the Middle East, presidents of the episcopal conferences of Turkey and Iran, and a number of lay faithful. The Pope then delivered the following words:
Your Beatitudes, Your Eminences,
Dear Brother Bishops and Priests,
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The liturgical celebration in which we have just taken part was an opportunity to thank the Lord for the gift of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops, held in October 2010 on the theme: The Catholic Church in the Middle East: Communion and Witness. "Now the company of those who believed were of one heart and soul" (Acts 4:32). I would like to thank all the Synod Fathers for their contribution. My gratitude also goes to the Secretary-General of the Synod of Bishops, Archbishop Eteroviƒ, for the work achieved and for his words on your behalf.
Having signed the post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Medio Oriente, I am pleased now to present it to all the local churches through you, the Patriarchs and Bishops, both Eastern and Latin, of the Middle East. With the consigning of this document there now begins its study and appropriation by all the members of the Church, pastors, consecrated persons and lay people, so that everyone will find new joy in the pursuit of his or her mission, encouraged and fortified to put into action the message of communion and witness understood in the various human, doctrinal, ecclesiological, spiritual and pastoral aspects of this Exhortation. Dear brothers and sisters of Lebanon and the Middle East, I hope that this Exhortation will be a guide to follow the various and complex paths where Christ goes before you. May communion in faith, hope and charity be strengthened in your countries and in every community so as to make credible your witness to the Triune God, who has drawn close to each one of us.
Dear Church in the Middle East, draw from the source of salvation which became a reality in this unique and beloved land! Follow in the footsteps of your fathers in faith, who by tenacity and fidelity opened up the way for humanity to respond to the revelation of God! Among the wonderful diversity of saints who flourished in your land, look for examples and intercessors who will inspire your response to the Lord's call to walk towards the heavenly Jerusalem, where God will wipe away every one of our tears (cf. Rev 21:4)! May fraternal communion be a support for you in your daily life and the sign of the universal brotherhood which Jesus, the firstborn of many, came to bring! Thus, in this region which saw his actions and heard his words, may the Gospel continue to resonate as it did 2,000 years ago, and may it be lived today and for ever!
TO LEBANON (14-16 SEPTEMBER 2012)
Reply of the Holy Father
Hall of Honor of the Syrian Catholic Patriarchate of Charfet
Sunday, 16 September 2012
Your Holiness, Your Beatitude,
Venerable Patriarchs, Dear Brother Bishops,
Dear Representatives of other Churches and Protestant Communities, Brothers and Sisters,
It is with great joy that I meet with you, in this monastery of Our Lady of Deliverance of Charfet, a place of great importance for the Syrian Catholic Church in Lebanon and the entire Middle East. I thank His Beatitude Ignace Youssef Younan, Syrian Catholic Patriarch of Antioch, for his warm words of welcome. I fraternally greet each one of you, who represent the diversity of the Church in the East, and in particular His Beatitude Ignace IV Hazim, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and all the East and His Holiness Mar Ignatius I Zakke Iwas, Patriarch of the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch and all the East. Your presence brings great solemnity to this meeting. I thank you with all my heart for being here with us. My thoughts also go to the Coptic Orthodox Church of Egypt and to the Ethiopian Orthodox who have had the recentsadness of losing their respective Patriarchs. I wish to assure them of my fraternal closeness and of my prayers.
Allow me to acknowledge here the testimony of faith shown by the Syrian Antiochene Church in the course of its glorious history, a testimony to an ardent love for Christ, which has caused it to write some heroic pages of this history, right up to the present, by remaining committed to the faith even to the point of martyrdom. I encourage this Church to be for the peoples of the region a sign of the peace that comes from God as well as a light that keeps their hope alive. I extend this encouragement to all the Churches and ecclesial communities present in the region.
Dear brothers, our encounter this evening is an eloquent sign of our profound desire to respond to the call of Christ, “that all may be one” (Jn 17:21). In these unstable times, so inclined to the violence which your region knows so well, it is even more necessary that Christ’s disciples give an authentic witness to their unity, so that the world may believe in their message of love, peace and reconciliation. This is a message that all Christians, and we in particular, have been commissioned to hand on to the world, a message of inestimable value in the present context of the Middle East.
Let us work without ceasing so that the love of Christ may lead us little by little into full communion with each other. In this regard, by means of common prayer and mutual commitment, we must constantly return to our one Lord and Saviour. For, as I wrote in the Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Medio Oriente which I have the pleasure of consigning to you, “Jesus draws into unity those who believe in and love him; he gives them the Spirit of his Father as well as Mary, his mother” (n. 15).
I entrust each one of you and all the members of your Churches and ecclesial communities to the Virgin Mary. May she intercede with her Son for us, so that we may be delivered from every evil and from all forms of violence, and so that the Middle East may at last know a time of reconciliation and peace. May the words of Jesus that I have so often cited during this journey, سَلامي أُعطيكُم - My peace I give to you! (Jn 14, 27), be for all of us the common sign that we will give in the name of Christ to the peoples of this beloved region, which longs to see those words fulfilled! Thank you!