Vatican City, 4 April 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father has sent a message to Ignatius Aphrem II, the new Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, congratulating him on his election. Pope Francis expresses his joy at receiving this news and prays that His Holiness “may be a spiritual father for your people and an untiring builder of peace and justice, serving the common good and the good of the entire Middle East in today's difficult circumstances”.
“It is important for all Christians to bear witness to the love and fellowship that binds us together, mindful of the prayer offered by our Lord at the Last Supper: that all may be one, so that the world may believe”. The Pope gives thanks to the Lord “for the bonds of fraternity between the Catholic Church and the Syrian Orthodox Church”, and prays “that our continuing friendship and dialogue may be further developed and deepened. May our heavenly Father fill Your Holiness with peace and strength for the noble task that awaits you”.