Vatican City, 26 October 2015 (VIS) – This morning Pope Francis received in audience the members of the Synod of the Chaldean Church, led by His Beatitude Patriarch Raphael I Louis Sako, to whom he expressed his solidarity will all the inhabitants of Iraq and Syria, asking that God's mercy heal the wounds of a war that has afflicted the hearts of communities, so that “no one may feel discouragement in this time when the outcry of violence seems to drown out our heartfelt prayers for peace”.
The bishop of Rome remarked that the current situation in their lands of origin “is gravely compromised by the fanatical hatred sown by terrorism, which continues to cause a great haemorrhage of faithful who leave the lands of their fathers, where they grew up firmly rooted in the furrow of tradition. This state of affairs clearly undermines the vital Christian presence in that land which witnessed the beginning of the journey of the Patriarch Abraham, heard the voice of the Prophets who called Israel to hope during the Exile, and saw the foundation of the first Churches upon the blood of many martyrs. There too Christians bore witness to the fullness of the Gospel, made their specific contribution to the growth of society over centuries of peaceful coexistence with our Islamic brothers and sisters. Sadly, these are times which are instead marked by countless examples of persecution, and even martyrdom”.
“The Chaldean Church, which suffers from the war, is also conscious of the needs of the faithful in the diaspora, who are desirous to maintaining their solid roots while becoming part of new situations. So I confirm, today more than ever, the complete support and solidarity of the Apostolic See in favour of the common good of the entire Chaldean Church. I pray that Christians will not be forced to abandon Iraq and the Middle East – I think especially of the sons and daughters of your Church, and their rich traditions. I urge you to work tirelessly as builders of unity in all the provinces of Iraq, fostering dialogue and cooperation among all those engaged in public life, and contributing to healing existing divisions while preventing new ones from arising”.
The visit of the Synod of the Chaldean Church offers the opportunity, said the Pope “to renew my heartfelt appeal to the international community to adopt every useful strategy aimed at bringing peace to countries terribly devastated by hatred, so that the life-giving breeze of love will once more be felt in places which have always been a crossroads for peoples, cultures and nations. May the peace for which we all hope arise on the horizon of history, so that the grievous tragedies caused by violence may yield to a climate of mutual coexistence”.
“The Synod which you are celebrating these days in Urbe, is a 'journeying together', a favourable moment of exchange amid the diversities which enrich your fraternal communion under the gaze of Christ, the Good Shepherd … who is concerned for the salvation of his sheep, and is especially concerned for those who have strayed. May you imitate him: zealous in seeking the salus animarum of priests as well as laity, realising full well that the exercise of communion sometimes demands a genuine kenosis, a self-basement and self-spoliation”.
“In doing so”, he concluded, “you will bridge distances and discern the response to be given to the pressing needs of the Chaldean Church today, in your native lands and in the diaspora. In this way the reflections which emerge from your discussions will be able to provide fruitful solutions to your current needs and points of convergence for resolving liturgical and more general issues”.