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Pope Francis: to ROACO (Oriental Churches), “welcoming the Christians who suffer”. Priests must not give in “to the temptation of social status”

The Oriental Churches “in Syria, Iraq and Egypt see their children suffer from the continuation of war and from the foolish violence perpetrated by fundamentalism terrorism”, an experience that is “upsetting and painful” but that is, at the same time, a “source of salvation”: these are the words that Pope Francis addressed to the participants in the Meeting of the “Reunion of Aid Agencies for the Oriental Churches” (ROACO), as he gave them audience today to coincide with the 90th plenary session. ROACO has been working since 1968 to support pastoral, educational and welfare services and the needs of the Oriental and Latin Churches. The Pope also urged the communities to welcome, “in the places where they arrive”, the Oriental Christians “forced to migrate”: “it doesn’t matter if they are Catholic, Orthodox or Protestant”. “May they keep living according to their own ecclesial tradition”, he said.
These days’ meeting was focussed on the education of seminarians and priests: “We are actually aware of the radical choice made by many of them and their heroic proofs of devotion at the sides of their communities, often sorely tried – the Pope stated –. But we are also aware of the temptations that one can encounter, such as the pursuit of the social status conferred on consecrated persons in some geographical areas, or as a way to play a guiding role according to principles of human fulfilment or according to cultural or environmental patterns”. So, he invited the Congregation for the Oriental Churches and the agencies to keep “supporting the plans and initiatives that genuinely uplift the essence of a Church”, by imbuing “a style of evangelical closeness” in bishops, seminarians and priests. “The Oriental Churches – Pope Francis pointed out – cherish many revered memories, churches, monasteries, places of holy men and women: they must be guarded and preserved, not least with your help, thus boosting pilgrimages to the roots of faith. But, when such constructions cannot be repaired or retained, then we must keep being the Lord’s living temple”.

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