VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis opened a three-day summit on the violence and persecution underway in the Middle East, saying arms trafficking was the root cause of many problems in the region.
The pope convened the Vatican summit Oct. 2-4 because of his growing concern and desire to do something about “the dramatic situation” Christians and other religious and ethnic minorities are facing in the Middle East, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi said Oct. 2.
Those called to the summit included the seven Vatican nuncios based in Syria, Jordan-Iraq, Egypt, Israel-Palestinian territories, Iran, Lebanon and Turkey, as well as top Vatican officials from the Secretariat of State, the Vatican’s permanent representatives at the United Nations in New York and Geneva, as well as from Vatican offices dealing with issues concerning refugees, charitable aid and Eastern churches.
The pope opened the proceedings and spent about 30 minutes with the 24 summit participants.
Father Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, said the pope spoke about his worries connected with the wars in the region and his concern for those suffering because of the widespread violence.
The pope mentioned the problem of terrorism, “in which a person’s life has no worth. He underlined the problem of the trafficking of arms that is at the root of many problems, as well as the humanitarian tragedy lived by the many people who are forced to leave their country,” the Jesuit priest said in a written statement.
Pope Francis encouraged continued prayers and the need to pinpoint concrete programs and action at many “more levels” that would show the church’s solidarity and involve the international community as well as people of good will in helping the countless people in need, he said.
The start of the summit came the same day Pope Francis met with the patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East.
“No religious, political or economic reasons can justify what is happening to hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women and children,” the pope told Catholicos Dinkha IV, the patriarch of a church whose oldest communities are in Iraq, Iran, Syria and Lebanon.
“How many of our brothers and sisters are suffering a daily persecution,” as can be seen with “the violence striking Christians and the faithful of other religious minorities, especially in Iraq and Syria,” he told the patriarch.
In their suffering, one can see “the body of Christ that, still today, is wounded, stricken and humiliated,” he said.
While theological discussions continue and much ecumenical progress has been made, the Assyrian Church of the East is not in communion with Rome.
Pope Francis pledged the Catholic Church’s continued commitment to dialogue and cooperation, and said, “We feel deeply united in prayer” and in charitable aid and action being taken to help alleviate the suffering of all Christians.
Join the CatholicPhilly.com family
CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you and hundreds of other people become part of our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community and sustain CatholicPhilly.com as your trusted news source. Thank you in advance!
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
PREVIOUS: Missouri spokesman confirms archbishop visited diocese for interviews
NEXT: Pope: People must open hearts to migrants who face closed borders
Share this story