Five years have elapsed since the launching of the "Apostolic Exhortation"

Five years have elapsed since the launching of the "Apostolic Exhortation"

By Fr. Rif’at Bader

Marking the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, which was widely celebrated in the Middle East, churches celebrated Holy Mass which is reminiscent of the crucifixion of Lord Jesus Christ. Furthermore, pomegranate beads and pomegranate juice, which symbolize the blood of Lord Jesus Christ, were also distributed as a tradition and fires were lit in all squares adjacent to churches.

However, the Christians of the East, with their pastors and the faithful, marked this year the elapse of five years since Pope Benedict XVI’s signing of the Apostolic Exhortation" (Ecclesia in Medio Oriente) at the Roman Catholic Church of St. Paul in Lebanon.

Marking the Apostolic Exhortation in the East, which coincides with the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, is reminiscent of what the Emeritus Pope said on that day. He said: “The religious freedom which is concomitant with the Milan Declaration and the discovery of the Cross in the 4th century is what the Christians of the East need nowadays." As religious freedom, as reported in the Apostolic Exhortation, is the "crown of all liberties,” Pope John Paul II had described it as "the mother of all liberties".

Contemplation the Cross of the Lord Jesus Christ in the East, makes us contemplate the cross of those who carry the cross and are pained because of their faith. This point is not confined only to the Christians, but rather every person who suffers because of faith and this is what is really happening with the Muslims of Rohingya in Myanmar.

On these days, when an exhibition is to be opened in Paris on "Arab Christians," we recall that Christians are not merely an exhibit. They are rather human beings and the living stones. Referring to the Apostolic Exhortation, we note that Pope Benedict XVI said: “It is the duty and the right of Christians in the Middle East, where most of them are the indigenous people, to fully participate in the affairs of the homeland by working to build their homelands. They should enjoy full citizenship and not be treated as second-class citizens or believers."

Sun, 09/24/2017 - 18:07
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