A hundred years ago, the First World War was raging: today, in a piecemeal World War III, Christians of the Eastern Churches still experience “tragic persecutions and an increasingly disturbing diaspora”. With this comparison, Pope Francis began his homily in the Basilica of St Mary Major, at the Mass he presided over today to mark the centenary of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches and the Pontifical Oriental Institute. “Let us thank the Lord today for the foundation of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches and the Pontifical Oriental Institute by Pope Benedict XV, which took place a hundred years ago, in 1917”, Pope Francis began: “At that time, the First World War was raging; today – as I have said – we live another World War, a piecemeal World War. And we see so many of our Christian brothers and sisters of the Eastern Churches experiencing tragic persecutions and an increasingly disturbing diaspora”. “This raises many questions, many whys, which resemble those in today’s first reading from the Book of Malachi”, the Pope continued, commenting on the readings of the day. Before Mass this morning, the Pope visited the Pontifical Oriental Institute, located in Piazza Santa Maria Maggiore, to which he travelled by car. Upon arrival, he greeted the superiors of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, the patriarchs and the major archbishops. Then, in the garden of the Pontifical Institute, he blessed a cypress tree in the presence of students, and finally, in the main hall, he met and greeted the benefactors and the Jesuit community.