OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS
TO THE ASSEMBLY OF
FOR AID TO THE EASTERN CHURCHES (R.O.A.C.O.)
20 June 2013
1. Welcome to you all! I receive you joyfully to
thank the Lord, together with our brothers and sisters
of the East, represented here by some of their pastors
and by you, the superiors and co-workers of the
Congregation for the Eastern Churches, as well as the
members of the Agencies of which ROACO consists. I am
grateful to God for the fidelity to Christ, to the
Gospel and to the Church of which Eastern-rite Catholics
have given proof down the ages, facing every difficulty
in Christ’s name as Christians for “keeping the faith” (cf.
2 Tim 4:6-8). I am close to them with gratitude.
I extend my thanks to each one of you — and to the
Churches which you represent — for all you do for them,
and I reciprocate the Cardinal Prefect’s cordial
greeting. Like my Predecessors, I wish to encourage and
support you in the exercise of charity which for
disciples of Jesus is their sole reason for pride. This
charity flows from the love of God in Christ: its summit
is the Cross, a luminous sign of God’s mercy and charity
for all, which was poured into our hearts through the
Holy Spirit (cf. Rom 5:5).
2. It is my duty to press for charitable action,
which is inseparable from the faith in which the Bishop
of Rome, Successor of the Apostle Peter, is bound to
strengthen his brethren. The Year of Faith impels us to
profess the love of God in Christ Jesus even more
convincingly. I ask you to accompany me in the task of
combining faith with charity, which is inherent in the
St Ignatius of Antioch has that essential expression
with which he defines the Church of Rome: “the Church
which presides in charity” (Letter to the Romans,
greeting). I therefore ask you to cooperate “in faith
and in the charity of Jesus Christ our Lord” (ibid.),
reminding you that our action will only be effective if
it is rooted in faith and nourished by prayer,
especially by the Blessed Eucharist, the Sacrament of
faith and charity.
3. Dear friends, this is the first witness we must
offer in our service to God and to our brethren. Only in
this way will all our actions be fruitful. Continue your
intelligent and caring work in implementing well
thought-out and coordinated projects that give formation
appropriate priority, especially to youth. However,
never forget that these projects must be a sign of that
profession of God’s love which constitutes the Christian
The Church, in the multiplicity and riches of her
members and of her activities, does not find her
security in human means. The Church belongs to God, she
trusts in his presence and in his action and brings to
the world the force of God which is the power of love.
May the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation
in Medio Oriente be an invaluable reference to you
in your service.
4. The presence of the Patriarchs of Alexandria for
Copts and of Babylon for Chaldeans, as well as of the
Papal Representatives in the Holy Land and in Syria, of
the Auxiliary Bishop of the Patriarch of Jerusalem and
of the Custos of the Holy Land, takes my heart to the
Holy Places of our Redemption and rekindles within me my
deep ecclesial concern for the situation of so many
brothers and sisters who live in insecurity and violence
that seem never-ending and spare neither the innocent
nor the weakest.
We believers are asked for constant and trusting
prayer, that the Lord may grant the longed-for peace,
accompanied by sharing and practical solidarity.
I would like once again from the depths of my heart
to appeal to the leaders of nations and of international
organizations, to the believers of every religion, and
to men and women of good will for an end to all
suffering, all violence, and all religious, cultural and
May conflict that sows death make room for encounter
and reconciliation that bring life. To all who are
suffering I say forcefully: never lose hope! The Church
is beside you, accompanies you and sustains you! I ask
you to do all you can to alleviate the serious needs of
the stricken populations, especially those of Syria, the
people of beloved Syria, refugees, ever more numerous.
Ignatius of Antioch himself asked the Christians of
Rome: “Remember in your prayers the Church of Syria...
Jesus Christ will watch over her and your charity” (Letter
to the Romans IX, 1). I, too, repeat this to you:
remember in your prayers the Church of Syria.... Jesus
Christ will watch over her and your charity.
I entrust the innumerable victims to the Lord of life
and I implore the Most Holy Mother of God to comfort all
who are in “great tribulation” (Rev 7:14). It is true,
Syria is passing through great tribulation.
To each one of you, to the Agencies and to all the
Eastern Churches I warmly impart the Apostolic Blessing.