The joint declaration: “Together in martyrdom”

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The joint declaration: “Together in martyrdom”

By Andrea Tornielli

At the end of the Divine Liturgy on the Feast of St. Andrew, Francis and Bartholomew both signed a text on Christian persecution.

“We express our common concern for the current situation in Iraq, Syria and the whole Middle East... the sharing of daily suffering can become an effective instrument of unity.” A joint declaration was signed by Francis and Bartholomew at the end of the liturgy celebrated on the occasion of the Feast of St. Andrew in the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. The two had signed another joint declaration in Jerusalem last May. The successors of Peter and Andrew were were visibly tired after many intense hours of meetings, conversations and celebrations. Above all, what prevailed, however, was the joy for an ever-stronger friendship and understanding.

In the document, both parties renew their wishes to proceed along the path toward unity between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches and Francis’ trip to Istanbul is key in this. The text also focuses on the situation of persecuted Christians in the Middle East who are victims of fundamentalism, referring back to the image of the “ecumenism of blood” which is so dear to the Bishop of Rome and the Patriarch of Constantinople.

“We call on all those who bear responsibility for the destiny of peoples to deepen their commitment to suffering communities, and to enable them, including the Christian ones, to remain in their native land. We cannot resign ourselves to a Middle East without Christians, who have professed the name of Jesus there for two thousand years.”

“Many of our brothers and sisters are being persecuted and have been forced violently from their homes. It even seems that the value of human life has been lost, that the human person no longer matters and may be sacrificed to other interests.” Francis and Bartholomew observed that “just as the blood of martyrs was a seed of strength and fertility for the Church, so too the sharing of daily sufferings can become an effective instrument of unity. The terrible situation of Christians and all those who are suffering in the Middle East calls not only for our constant prayer, but also for an appropriate response on the part of the international community.”

The joint declaration goes on to recognise the importance of “promoting a constructive dialogue with Islam based on mutual respect and friendship.” Finally, Francis and Bartholomew spared a thought for all peoples suffering as a result of war, “in particular, we pray for peace in Ukraine”.

Sun, 11/30/2014 - 18:24
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