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Thursday, 29 May 2014

Pope in General Audience: Peace in the Middle East must be 'hand-made'

Wednesday Audience - 2014-05-28

The Holy Father's Catechesis:

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
In the past days, as you know, I went on pilgrimage to the Holy Land. It was a great gift for the Church, for which I thank God. He led me to that blessed Land, which witnessed the historical presence of Jesus and where fundamental events took place of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. I wish to renew my cordial gratitude to His Beatitude, Patriarch Fouad Twal, to the Bishops of the various rites, to the priests and to the Franciscans of the Custody of the Holy Land. These Franciscans are great! The work they do is most beautiful! My grateful thought goes also to the Jordanian, Israeli and Palestinian Authorities, who received me with so much courtesy, I would also say with friendship, as well as to all those who cooperated for the realization of the visit.

The main purpose of this pilgrimage was to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the historic meeting between Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras. That was the first time in which a Successor of Peter visited the Holy Land: thus during Vatican Council II, Paul VI inaugurated the Popes’ trips outside of Italy in the contemporary age. That prophetic gesture of the Bishop of Rome and of the Patriarch of Constantinople was a milestone in the suffering but promising path of unity of all Christians, which since then has taken important steps. Therefore, my meeting with His Holiness Bartholomew, beloved brother in Christ, was the culminating moment of the visit. We prayed together at the Sepulcher of Jesus and, with us, were the Greek-Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilos III, and the Armenian Apostolic Patriarch, Nourhan, in addition to Archbishops and Bishops of different Churches and Communities, civil Authorities and many faithful. In that place where the proclamation of the Resurrection resounded, we perceived all the bitterness and sufferings of the divisions that still exist between the disciples of Christ; and truly this does so much harm, hurt to the heart. We are still divided; in that place in fact where the proclamation of the Resurrection resounded, where Jesus gave us life, we are still somewhat divided. But above all, in that celebration charged with reciprocal fraternity, esteem and affection, we heard loudly the voice of the Risen Good Shepherd who wishes to make of all his sheep only one flock. We felt the desire to heal the still open wounds and to continue with tenacity on the path towards full communion. Once more, as the preceding Popes did, I asked forgiveness for what we did to foster this division, and I ask the Holy Spirit to help us to heal the wounds that we did to other brothers. We are all brothers in Christ and, with Patriarch Bartholomew, we are friends, brothers and we shared the will to walk together, to do everything that we can do today: pray together, work together for God’s flock, seek peace, protect Creation, so many things that we have in common. And, as brothers, we must go forward.

Another purpose of this pilgrimage was to encourage in that region the path to peace, which is at the same time gift of God and commitment of men. I did so in Jordan, in Palestine and in Israel. And I did so always as a pilgrim, in the name of God and of man, bearing in my heart great compassion for the children of that Land who for too long have coexisted with war and have the right to know, finally, days of peace!

Therefore, I exhorted the Christian faithful to allow themselves to be “anointed” by the Holy Spirit with an open and docile heart, to be ever more capable of gestures of humility, brotherhood and reconciliation. The Spirit enables one to assume these attitudes in daily life, with persons of different cultures and religions, and thus become “artisans” of peace. Peace is made with craftsmanship! There are no industries of peace, no. It is done every day through craftsmanship, and also with an open heart so that God’s gift will come. Therefore, I exhorted the Christian faithful to allow themselves to be “anointed.”

I thanked the authorities and the people in Jordan for their commitment in welcoming the numerous refugees from areas of war, a humanitarian commitment that merits and requires the constant support of the International Community. I was impressed by the generosity of the Jordanian people in receiving refugees, so many fleeing from war in that area. May the Lord bless these hospitable people, bless them very much! And we must pray that the Lord will bless this hospitality and appeal to all international institutions to help these people in the work of hospitality they do. Also during my pilgrimage in other places I encouraged the Authorities concerned to continue their efforts to relax the tensions in the Middle Eastern area, especially in martyred Syria, as well as to continue in their search for a just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Therefore, I invited the President of Israel and the President of Palestine, both men of peace and artisans of peace, to come to the Vatican to pray together with me for peace. And I ask you, please, not to leave us alone: you must pray, pray so much to the Lord to give us peace, to give peace to that blessed Land! I am counting on your prayers. Strong, pray, at this time, pray much that peace will come. 

This pilgrimage to the Holy Land was also the occasion to confirm in the faith the Christian communities, which suffer so much, and to express the gratitude of the whole Church for the presence of Christians in that area and in the whole of the Middle East. These brothers of ours are courageous witnesses of hope and charity, “salt and light” in that Land. With their life of faith and prayer and with their appreciated educational and welfare activity, they work in favor of reconciliation and forgiveness, contributing to the common good of the society.

With this pilgrimage, which was a true grace of the Lord, I wished to take a word of hope, but I also received it in return! I received it from brothers and sisters who hope “against all hope” (Romans 4:18), through so many sufferings, such as those of one who has fled his country because of the conflicts; such as those , in different parts of the world, who are discriminated and scorned because of their faith in Christ. Let us continue to be close to them! We pray for them and for peace in the Holy Land and in the whole of the Middle East. May the prayer of the whole Church also support the path towards the full unity of Christians, so that the world will believe in the love of God that came, in Jesus Christ, to dwell among us

And I invite you all now to pray together, to pray together to Our Lady, Queen of Peace, Queen of Christian Unity, the Mother of all Christians: may she give us and the whole world peace, and may she accompany us on this path of unity. [Ave Maria]

[Original text: Italian, Translation by ZENIT]

Read online here:
Pope in General Audience: Peace in the Middle East must be 'hand-made'
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