Today the Holy Father exhorted members of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepluchre to become “sincere ambassadors of peace,” especially in communities “weighted down” with “uncertainty and danger.” The Order, which convenes every five years, is currently meeting in Rome to assess the situation of the Catholic community in the Holy Land, study the activities of the Order and establish guidelines for the future.
Speaking at their meeting today, the Holy Father referred to the history of the Order, which was established to be "a 'guard of honor' for the protection of the Holy Sepulchre,” the church that surrounds both Calvary and the tomb of Jesus. Since its founding, the Order has been supported by the Popes to carry out their “specific form of service.”
After reminding members of the order to keep Christ as the center of their lives, the Pope then challenged the knights to be “builders of a tangible hope," aiming to create a “new humanity inspired by the evangelical values of justice, love and peace. How much need for justice and peace the Land of Jesus has!" the Pontiff exclaimed. "Continue to work to this end, and never tire of praying ... for this aspiration to be realized.
"Ask the Lord to make you 'convinced and sincere ambassadors of peace and love among your brothers and sisters'. Ask Him,” the Holy Father continued, “with the power of His love, to favor your constant work in support of the ardent desire for peace in those communities, weighted down over the years by a climate of uncertainty and danger."
The Holy Father then called to attention the plight of Christians throughout the world.
“My affectionate thoughts go out to those dear Christian peoples who continue to suffer because of the political, economic and social crisis of the Middle East, made even more burdensome by the grave situation in the world. And I reserve a particular expression of spiritual closeness for our many brethren in the faith who have been forced to emigrate. How can we not share the suffering of those communities so sorely tried?"
The Pope concluded by recalling the struggles of those who live in the Holy Land, especially Bethlehem and “all places sanctified by the passage of the Redeemer.” He also asked the Virgin Mary “to make us aware of her maternal protection for our brothers and sisters who live there and have to face no small number of difficulties every day."