Pope Francis brings together all Christian leaders and representatives in the Middle East
The call for peace in the Middle East was today unified in one voice in a moment that brought together Pope Francis with the Patriarchs of the Orthodox Church and Christian communities in the Middle East. The meeting, described as being historic, took place in Bari, a city that is often described as being a gate to the orient and holds a reliquary of St Nicholas who is revered by Christians in the East as well as the West.
The Pope said that war, violence, circumstances of occupation and other forms of fundamentalism has rendered the Middle East to become a territory where its occupants feel the need to flee to such a state that Christianise may be obliterated from the area. He gave to understand that the Middle East without Christians could no longer be considered the Middle East.
“War, violence and destruction, instances of occupation and varieties of fundamentalism, forced migrations and neglect. All this has taken place with the silence and complicity of many. The Middle East has become a land of people who leave their own lands behind. There is also the danger that the presence of our brothers and sisters in the faith will disappear, disfiguring the very face of the region. A Middle East without Christians would not be the Middle East” were his actual words.
The Pope said that indifference kills and he expressed the wish that leaders of various Christian communities would express resistance to indifference. He said they had to give a voice to those that are voiceless whose only alternative is to wipe away their tears. He expressed his sentiment that the region has now become a region where people cry and suffer in silence while others are trying to dominate the region or make capital out of the situation.
In a gest to emphasise equality, the Pope and the other leaders were taken together to pray on an open-topped bus and prayers were recited in six different languages.