Pope Franis extends holiday greetings at the Vatican.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Just before Christmas Eve, Pope Francis penned a letter to Middle East Christians encouraging them to be proud of their Christian heritage and to remain in the land of Jesus despite the “continuing hostilities” they have been facing from terrorist organizations.
“I write to you just before Christmas, knowing that for many of you the music of your Christmas hymns will also be accompanied by tears and sighs,” Francis said in the letter. “Nonetheless, the birth of the Son of God in our human flesh is an indescribable mystery of consolation: 'For the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all people'.
Francis stated that the cause for the Christian’s suffering is the hostilities of the Islamic State, a terrorist organization of “previously unimaginable dimensions” that has “perpetrated all kind of abuses and inhuman acts” and driven Christians out of the land they have occupied since apostolic times.
'”Do not be afraid or ashamed to be Christian. Your relationship with Jesus will help you to cooperate generously with your fellow citizens, whatever their religious affiliation.” Francis wrote.
Francis stated that the sheer presence of a Christian community in the Middle East helps to promote peace,and that this presence is more important than the service a church could provide there.
“Within the region you are called to be artisans of peace...in a spirit of ready cooperation with all national and international authorities.” Francis said in his letter. “In a special way I would like to express my esteem and gratitude to you... who accompany the journey of your communities with loving concern. How valuable is the presence and work of those completely consecrated to the Lord, serving him in their brothers and sisters, especially those in greatest need”
While he hopes to one day visit the Middle East in person, Francis hopes that his words can provide comfort and show his solidarity for the time being.
sign up to our newsletter