"Remember in your prayers the Church in Syria,which now has God for its shepherd, instead of me."(Saint Ignatius of Antioch, Epistle to the Romans)
The presence here today of the Patriarch of Alexandria of the Copts and of the Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans; of the Papal Representatives in the Holy Land and in Syria; of the Auxiliary Bishop of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem; and of the Custody of the Holy Land, carries my heart to the Holy Places of our Redemption, but also renews in me the vivid ecclesial concern for so many brothers and sisters who live in a situation of insecurity and seemingly interminable violence which does not spare the innocent and most helpless. Constant and trusting prayer is required of us believers, that the Lord might grant the longed-for peace, joined to sharing and concrete solidarity. I would like to renew once more, from the depths of my heart, an appeal to the leaders of nations and of international organisations, to believers of every religion, and to women and men of good will to put an end to all suffering, to all violence, to all religious, cultural and social discrimination. The confrontation that sows death should give place to the encounter and the reconciliation that brings life. To all those who suffer I say forcefully: never lose hope! The Church is close to you, the Church walks with you and sustains you! I call upon you to do everything possible to alleviate the grave necessities of the stricken populations, especially of Syria. The beloved Syrian people . . . the ever increasing number of refugees and displaced persons. Saint Ignatius of Antioch himself asked the Christians of Rome: “Remember in your prayers the Church in Syria . . . Jesus Christ Himself will look over it, and your charity” (Letter to the Romans, IX,I). We too, you and I, repeat, “Remember in your prayers the Church in Syria . . . Jesus Christ Himself will look over it, and your charity.” I entrust the innumerable victims to the Lord of life, and I implore the Most Holy Mother of God that she might console the many people who are experiencing the “great tribulation” (Rev. 7:14). And it is truly a great tribulation!
June 20, 2013