HOLY MASS WITH
THE APOSTOLIC NUNCIOS IN THE MIDDLE EAST
OVER BY THE CARDINAL SECRETARY OF STATE
OF CARDINAL PIETRO PAROLIN
Saturday, 4 October
Our meeting is the fruit of the peace brought to the
world by Christ, who gave himself for all of us, as the
Eucharist which comes to nourish us every day with the
newness of his divine life, and is illuminated by the
noble and holy figure of St Francis, a witness to the
way of charity, of humility and of poverty as the
privileged paths to take to truly become new beings,
capable of comprehending and fulfilling the will of the
Father and attaining salvation.
The Saint from Assisi teaches us the rationale, the
courage and the patience of dialogue, even with those
furthest away, in order that, touched by the purity of
our intentions, they may amend and desist from their
violent and subversive tactics.
Today we are celebrating this Holy Eucharist with
anxiety for what is occurring in several countries in
the Middle East.
We are seriously alarmed at seeing the growing
threats to peace, and dismayed at the situation of the
Christian communities living in the territories between
Syria and Iraq, controlled by an entity which tramples
on rights and adopts terroristic methods as it seeks to
extend its power.
These communities, who have lived in those lands
since apostolic times, are thus facing situations of
grave danger and of open persecution. They are often
forced to abandon everything and flee from their homes
and their country.
It is depressing to observe how persistent and active
the forces of evil are; what great strides the
conviction has made in a few corrupt minds that violence
and terror are the methods to employ in order to impose
dominion over others, even masked by the pretense of
expressing a particular religious viewpoint!
This is an obvious perversion of genuine religious
consciousness with tragic consequences, which calls for
a response. The Church cannot remain silent in the face
of the persecution suffered by her children, and the
international community cannot remain neutral between
the assailant and the assailed.
“Preserve me, O God, for in thee I take refuge” (Ps
16:1). Thus prays the Psalmist. He, who has no
shortage of difficulties and violent adversaries, turns
confidently to the Lord. He is not dismayed by the
wicked and their machinations, because he knows that his
life is in God’s hands. He knows that his true strength
and security is the Lord, who gives him peace and
gladness, and who is preparing for him a definitive
future of joy. It is a gladness which does not fail even
in tribulation and danger, because it is grounded in
God. It is a joy like that felt by St Francis, who
identified with the Crucified Christ to the point of
receiving the stigmata within his own flesh. It is the
gladness of every faithful Christian who knows that
History is guided by Providence, and that the forces of
evil will not prevail.
This certainty which makes us rejoice, far from
letting us be idle or inactive spectators, spurs us as
individuals and as a Christian community, as a Church,
to constant and trusting prayer and to implement every
practical initiative to raise the awareness of
Governments and to inform public opinion. Everything
possible should be done to alleviate the situation of
our sorely tried brothers and to stop the aggressors.
Providence also needs our support and that of our
freedom and of our diligence and creativity, of our
initiative and our daily effort.
Persecuted Christians and all those who are suffering
unjustly must be able to recognize the Church as the
institution that defends them, that prays and acts for
them, that is not afraid to assert the truth, that makes
itself the voice of the voiceless, defender and support
for the abandoned, displaced and discriminated against.
Indeed, everything depends on God and on his Grace,
but it is also necessary to act as if everything
depended on us, on our prayer and on our solidarity.
I thank you, dear Apostolic Nuncios who work in the
Middle East, for having accepted this invitation to come
to the Vatican during these days in order to study in
depth cum et sub Petro the situation in the
countries where you are posted to represent the Holy
See. I thank you for your work and your presence, by
which you contribute to the peace and understanding
among the peoples. The voice of the Holy Father speaks
through you. Through you are made clear the actions of
the Apostolic See to uphold the right to life and to
religious freedom, the cornerstones of human rights.
Through your prudent work, awareness is raised among
Governments and international organizations with regard
to their duty to guarantee peace and security in the
manner established by international law, in order to
render the aggressors harmless.
We are all called to commit ourselves to this task
for world peace, for the continuity and development of
the presence of the Christian communities of the Middle
East, for the common good of humanity.
In the rejoicing hymn that we proclaimed, taken from
the passage in Matthew, Jesus thanks and praises the
Heavenly Father for having revealed the divine mysteries
to babes, to those who have a pure and simple heart (cf.
Mt 11:25), and not to those who are closed to the love
of God, thinking they do not need it and can do without
it. And this revealed mystery is Jesus Christ, in whom
the true face of the Father is unveiled and whose yoke
is truly easy and whose burden is light, while other
yokes are so heavy and inhuman as to crush and disfigure
the face of the human being.
May St Francis, profoundly identified with Christ Our
Peace, and for this reason the prophet of peace and
dialogue, intercede for us, help us to be credible
witnesses of the Risen Christ. Let us pray to the Lord
to convert the hearts of aggressors and bend them to his