Pope Francis: We must be the voice for persecuted Christians who have no voice
The pope and the Catholicos of the Assyrian Church of the East began their meeting with this affectionate greeting.
The Assyrian Church of the East headquarters is in Iraq. It has suffered a lot in the past from persecution. It is a tragedy that Pope Francis lamented.
“We share the great suffering resulting from the tragic situation endured by so many of our brothers and sisters in the Middle East, who are victims of violence and frequently forced to leave the lands in which they have always lived.”
The pope spoke about the ecumenism of blood. He assured that the suffering of these persecuted Christians offers a testimony of unity.
Afterwards came the exchange of gifts. The Patriarch gave this Assyrian cross to Pope Francis. The pope gave him this olive tree of peace.
They then went together to pray for the Middle East, especially Syria and Iraq. They signed a joint declaration to advance the path of unity; and above all, advocate respect for the Christians of the region.
They recalled that Christians should not be considered a 'protected minority' or 'tolerated' but are full citizens.
Furthermore, the pope and the Catholicos Assyrian Church insisted that there cannot be a Middle East without Christians. They have the right to live in a safe and peaceful environment, especially those who want to return to their homes.
Finally, they reiterated their support for these 'persecuted brothers and sisters' and pledge to be their voice, 'the voice of the voiceless.'