Vatican City, 5 June 2014 (VIS) – “On our journey towards full communion, we share the same hopes and a similar sense of responsibility as we strive to be faithful to the will of the Lord Jesus Christ”. With these words, Pope Francis greeted His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Armenian Apostolic Church of Cilicia, during their meeting in the Vatican this morning.
As the Pope observed, His Holiness Aram I's commitment to the cause of Christian unity is well known to all. The Catholicos has played an important role in the World Council of Churches and in the Middle East Council of Churches, which support Christian communities in the Middle East, and has made a significant contribution to the Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches.
Francis also remarked that Aram I represents “a part of the Christian world that is irrevocably marked by a history of trials and sufferings courageously accepted for the love of God. The Armenian Apostolic Church has had to become a pilgrim people; it has experienced in a singular way what it means to journey towards the Kingdom of God. The history of emigration, persecutions and the martyrdom experienced by so many of the faithful has inflicted deep wounds on the hearts of all Armenians. We must see and venerate these as wounds inflicted on the very body of Christ, and for this very reason a cause for unfailing hope and trust in the provident mercy of the Father”.
“Trust and hope. How much these are needed! They are needed by our Christian brothers and sisters in the Middle East, especially those living in areas racked by conflict and violence. But we too need them, as Christians who are spared such sufferings yet so often risk losing our way in the desert of indifference and forgetfulness of God, or living in conflict with our brothers and sisters, or succumbing in our interior struggle against sin. As followers of Jesus Christ, we need to learn humbly to bear one another’s burdens and to help each other to be better Christians, better followers of Jesus. So let us advance together in charity, as Christ loved us and gave Himself for us, offering Himself to God as a pleasing sacrifice”.
“In these days before Pentecost … in faith, let us invoke the Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life, that he may renew the face of the earth, be a source of healing for our wounded world, and reconcile the hearts of all men and women with God the Creator. May He, the Paraclete, inspire our journey towards unity. May He teach us to strengthen the fraternal bonds which even now unite us in the one baptism and in the one faith”, concluded Francis.
After the meeting, the Catholicos and the Pope prayed together in the Redemptoris Mater Chapel.