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Thursday, June 21, 2012


Vatican City, 21 June 2012 (VIS) - This morning the Holy Father received participants in the annual general meeting of the Reunion of Organisations for Aid to the Oriental Churches (ROACO).

In his remarks to the group Benedict XVI mentioned the social and economic crisis which, "due to the global dimension it has taken on, does not spare the more economically developed parts of the world and, even more worryingly, also affects the most disadvantaged areas". Above all in the East, "homeland to ancient Christian traditions", this process "generates insecurity and instability also at the ecclesial level, and in the ecumenical and inter-religious fields. These factors nourish endemic wounds of history and make dialogue, peace, coexistence among peoples and authentic respect for human rights even more fragile, especially the right to religious freedom for individuals and communities".

In this year's meeting, representatives form the Holy Land were joined by prelates from the Syro-Malabar Church in India, the Greek-Catholic Church of Ukraine, the apostolic nuncio to Syria and the president of Caritas in Syria.

"This", the Holy Father said, "is an occasion to reaffirm my closeness to the great suffering of our brothers and sister in Syria, in particular the young innocents and those most defenceless. May our prayers, our commitment and our concrete fraternity in Christ ... help them not to lose the light of hope at this moment of darkness; and may God give wisdom of heart to those in positions of responsibility, that all violence and bloodshed may cease".

The Pope went on: "May the international community spare no effort to help Syria emerge from its current situation of violence and crisis, which has already gone on a long time and risks becoming a generalised conflict which would have highly negative consequences for the country and the entire region. I also make an urgent and heartfelt appeal that, in the face of the dire need of the population, the necessary humanitarian assistance be guaranteed, also to the many people who have had to abandon their homes, some of whom have taken shelter in neighbouring countries. Human life is a precious gift which must always be protected".

In closing Benedict XVI called on the members of ROACO to be "eloquent signs of the charity that pours from Christ’s heart" and to "present the Church to the world in her most authentic identity and mission". He concluded by expressing the hope that the Virgin would give them hope and watch over his own forthcoming trip to Lebanon.

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