Vatican City, Jan 27, 2017 / 05:08 am
In a speech to Catholic and Oriental Orthodox leaders, Pope Francis pointed, as he often does, to the example of Christian martyrs from various Churches, saying that in their death, those killed for their faith bear witness not only to Christ, but also the unity he prayed for.
On the path toward full unity, “the martyrs show us the way,” the Pope said Jan. 27. “How many times has the sacrifice of their lives led Christians, otherwise divided in so many things, to unity!”
Those who have given their lives in fidelity to Christ, no matter their rite or tradition, are already united, he said, adding that “their names are written in the one common martyrology of God’s Church.”
“Just as in the early Church the blood of the martyrs was the seed of new Christians, so in our own day may the blood of so many martyrs be a seed of unity between believers, a sign and instrument of a future of communion and peace,” he said.
Francis spoke to members of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches, established in 2003, during their annual meeting in Rome.
While last year’s discussion centered on the nature of the sacraments, specifically baptism, this year participants focused on the historical, theological and ecclesiological aspects of the Eucharist.
In his speech, Pope Francis noted that many of the attendees belong to Churches that suffer “the spread of violence and acts of brutality” inspired by fundamentalist extremism on a daily basis.
Such tragic suffering, he said, is often rooted in the poverty, injustice and social exclusion generated by “an instability created by partisan interests, often from elsewhere, and by earlier conflicts that have led to situations of dire need.”