Requests Prayers for Synod of Bishops
VATICAN CITY (Zenit.org) - Benedict XVI is pointing out that the Church is called to be a sign and instrument of unity in the Middle East, amid all of the division present in that region.
The Pope affirmed this today before praying the midday Angelus together with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.
He said: "I have just come from St. Peter's Basilica where I presided at the opening Mass of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops.
"This extraordinary synodal gathering, which will last two weeks, will see the meeting in Rome of the pastors of the Church that lives in the Middle East, a very diverse reality. In that land, in fact, the one Church of Christ expresses herself in all the wealth of her ancient traditions."
The Pontiff noted, "We will be reflecting on the following theme: 'The Catholic Church in the Middle East: Communion and Witness.'"
"In fact," he added, "in those countries, unfortunately marked by profound divisions and lacerations by age-old conflicts, the Church is called to be the sign and instrument of unity and of reconciliation, on the model of the first community of Jerusalem, in which 'the multitude of those who had become Christian were of one heart and one soul' (Acts 4:32)."
"This is an arduous task," the Holy Father observed, "since the Christians of the Middle East often find themselves having to endure difficult conditions of life at the personal, familial and communal levels."
He continued, "But this should not be discouraging: It is precisely in this context that the perennial message of Christ becomes more necessary and urgent: 'Convert and believe in the Gospel' (Mark 1:15)."
Benedict XVI concluded by inviting everyone to pray for the synod assembly, "invoking from God an abundant outpouring of the gifts of the Holy Spirit."