Pope Benedict XVI began his speech by reminding the participants of the roots of their identity in the gospel as well as their gift of, “an acute ecclesial sensitivity that emerges from the union between you and Successor of Peter."
Referring to the community of Eastern Catholic Churches in the Holy Land, the Pope recalled how "the serious difficulties it is going through because of profound insecurity, lack of work, innumerable restrictions and consequent growing poverty, are a cause of pain for us all."
"It is a situation," he added, "that makes the educational, professional and family future of young generations extremely uncertain, unfortunately tempting them to leave forever the beloved land of their birth. This also happens in other areas of the Middle East, such as Iraq and Iran, which also benefit providentially from your generous kindness."
In order to face these serious problems, Pope Benedict went on, "our prime and fundamental duty is that of persistent and faithful prayer to the Lord, Who never abandons his children in times of trial. This should be associated with activities of fraternal solicitude, in order to find new and at times unexpected ways to meet the needs of those people."
"I invite pastors, faithful, and everyone in positions of responsibility in the civil community, to favor mutual respect between cultures and religions, and to create as soon as possible the conditions for serene and peaceful coexistence throughout the Middle East."
This morning, the Holy Father received 100 participants from the annual Meeting of Aid Agencies for the Oriental Churches (ROACO), thanking them for the service they have been carrying out since 1968, "supporting the pastoral, educational and charitable activities and meeting the urgent needs" of those Churches in the east.