.- On Friday afternoon patriarchs and archbishops from Eastern Catholic churches who were participating in the Synod of Bishops appealed to Pope Benedict XVI “in favor of our brothers and sisters of the East,” asking for the confirmation of all attempts being made to “favor peace, freedom, and truth in love” in Lebanon, Iraq and India.
In the appeal, which was published in the pages of L’Osservatore Romano, the prelates write:
“Our hearts are moved by the suffering of so many of our sons and daughters of the East. Children and youth, people in extreme difficulty because of their age, health or essential spiritual and material needs; families perennially tempted to despair over the present and the future. We feel it our duty to voice their justifiable hopes that everyone may soon be guaranteed a dignified life, in fruitful social coexistence.
“Peace is the work of justice! This is an imperative we cannot ignore. We ask, then, for peace in justice, of which real religious freedom is a guarantee, and especially for the Holy Land which was the birthplace of Christ the Redeemer, for Lebanon, Iraq and India.
“We remain close to people suffering for their Christian faith and to all believers prevented from professing their religion. We pay homage to Christians who have recently lost their lives for faithfulness to the Lord.”
According to the Vatican Information Service, the appeal’s authors continue by noting the encouragement of the Pope and the Synod Fathers. The writers ask that Christians and all men of good will demonstrate respect and acceptance of others in daily life. They ask that pastors and religious leaders preach and support such action by sustaining and increasing “initiatives of mutual understanding, dialogue, and assistance.”
The prelates also ask that the international community and politicians guarantee “true religious freedom” with legislation which overcomes all discrimination and helps those who are forced to leave their own land for religious reasons.
On Sunday after the Angelus, Pope Benedict XVI joined the patriarchs’ and archbishops’ appeal by defending Christians in Iraq and India who are “victims of intolerance and violence.”
The Pope asked civil and religious authorities to make every effort to restore immediately civil coexistence, explaining that “honest and loyal citizens” should be able to count on “adequate protection” by the State. Such authorities should make “significant and explicit gestures” out of friendship and consideration toward minorities, Christian or otherwise, defending “their legitimate rights.”