Francis mentions “the witness given by your Oriental Orthodox Churches. For yours are Churches that have sealed their faith in Christ in blood and that continue to sow seeds of faith and hope, even in areas often, tragically, scarred by violence and war.”
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis welcomed a group of young priests and monks (pictured) from Eastern Orthodox Churches who are Rome at the invitation of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity.
The priests and monks belong to the Coptic Orthodox Church, the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch, the Orthodox Ethiopian Church and the Orthodox Malankara Syrian Church
In his address to them, the pontiff said that “Every visit brings a sharing of gifts” and their visit could bring a “fruitful seed” that leads to communion and full unity.
“When the Mother of God visited Elizabeth, she shared her joy at having receiving God’s gift. Elizabeth, who at Mary’s greeting felt the child leap in her womb, was herself filled with the gift of the Holy Spirit and blessed her cousin (cf. Lk 1:39-42). Like Mary and Elizabeth, the Churches carry with them a variety of gifts of the Spirit, to be shared for their mutual joy and benefit.
“When we Christians visit one another, and encounter one another in the love of the Lord, we are blessed to be able to exchange these gifts. We can receive what the Holy Spirit has sown in others as a gift for ourselves.
“Your visit, then, is not only an opportunity for you to grow in knowledge of the Catholic Church, but also a chance for us Catholics to receive the gift of the Spirit that you bring. Your presence makes possible this sharing of gifts and is a source of joy.”
”Everything begins there, with our acknowledgment of grace, with our recognition of God’s gracious work, with our belief that he is the source of the goodness within us. This is the beauty of the Christian vision of life. And it is also the proper way for us to welcome our brothers, as the Apostle teaches.
“I am grateful, then, for you, for the grace that you have received in your lives and your traditions, for your saying ‘yes’ to your priesthood and your monastic life, and for the witness given by your Oriental Orthodox Churches. For yours are Churches that have sealed their faith in Christ in blood and that continue to sow seeds of faith and hope, even in areas often, tragically, scarred by violence and war.
“I hope that each of you has had a positive experience of the Catholic Church and the city of Rome, and that you have felt not so much as guests, but as brothers. The Lord is pleased with this brotherly affection between us.
“May your visit and those that, with God’s help will follow in the future, be a source of joy and give glory to the Lord! May your presence become a small but fruitful seed that will bear fruit in visible communion between us, in that full unity that Jesus ardently desires (cf. Jn 17:21).”