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Easter 2017: message from European Churches, “close to persecuted Christians. They are an exemplar for us”

“We hold especially close in our prayers those Christians who are persecuted and are unable to celebrate the resurrection in freedom and peace. They are the suffering body of Christ”. This was written in a joint message released to mark Easter 2017 by the leaders of the two bodies representing all Christian Churches of Europe: Card. Angelo Bagnasco, Archbishop of Genoa and President of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences (CCEE), and Rev. Christopher Hill, Bishop of Guildford (Church of England) and President of the Conference of European Churches (CEC). “We also hold especially close in our prayers – the two Bishops wrote – our many brothers and sisters in Christ who have died for professing their faith, and those who continue to witness and work for mutual respect and dialogue in dangerous situations. They are an exemplar for us. They call Christians in Europe to be courageous in their faith, and to witness with joy and conviction the infinite love of God. They call Christians in Europe to stand with those most in need, without regard for nationality or religion—the poor, sick and elderly, mothers and children, the imprisoned, refugees, and all those excluded from our societies”. “The crucifixion – the message reads – is an ongoing reality: human life is violated and creation is exploited. Through war, greed, and injustice, life is under threat and being destroyed. For too many, too often the world is marked by violence and by fear, but Jesus Christ is stronger than our closed doors or walls in our heart. He enters to say: ‘Peace be with you’”. The Bishops in their message also refer to the “current divisions among Christians”, renewing their “commitment to the path of unity” and inviting Christian communities to be “a presence of hope for a world called to be reconciled with itself and with God”.

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