VATICAN: Pope Francis urges for basic right to religious liberty in countries where Christians are among the minorities.
Pope Francis appealed for worldwide respect of the,” basic right to religious liberty,” in particular in countries where Christian communities dwell among excruciating circumstances. This call came in as the second of two linked addresses to the Patriarchs and Major Archbishops of Eastern Churches, who are in Rome this week for the Plenary Assembly of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, and to the full body of participants in the Assembly. In his remarks to the Patriarchs and Major Archbishops, Pope Francis expressed gratitude towards the Patriarchs and Major Archbishops for their visit, saying their coming gives him the opportunity to refurbish his admiration for the spiritual patrimony of Eastern Christianity.
Pope Francis while referring to the words of Pope emeritus Benedict XVI in the post-Synodal exhortation, Ecclesia in medio oriente (nn. 39-40), Pope Francis said, “You are watchful guardians of communion and servants of Ecclesial unity, that union, which you are called to realize in your Churches, finds natural and full expression in the ‘indefectible union with the Bishop of Rome’.” Pope Francis went on to say, “In order that our witness is credible, we are called ever to seek justice, mercy, faith, charity, patience and meekness.”
Pope Francis also separately addressed the entire assemblage in the Congregation’s Plenary Assembly, which has been taking in the sights of the Eastern Churches since half century on from the II Vatican Ecumenical Council. Pope Francis spoke of his joy at the enlightenment and growth of the Churches that continued to thrive under oppression for years especially under Communist regimes, while appreciating the persistence of the Churches in the Middle East, which often live as “little flocks” in areas signed by hostility and conflict. In his address he reflected on the Holy Land of Israel in a special way, saying, “Every Christian owes a debt of gratitude to the Churches living there.” The Pope expressly talked about the troubles of Christians in Egypt, Syria and Iraq, saying that,” There and elsewhere throughout the region there is often too much cause for weeping.”
“The Bishop of Rome will not rest, so long as there are men and women, of any religion, affected in their dignity, deprived of life’s basic necessities, robbed of a future, forced to the status of refugees and displaced persons,” he said. “Today, along with the pastors of the Churches of the East, we make an appeal: that the right of all people to a decent life and to freely profess their faith be respected,” he continued.