JUNE 24, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Christians
living in the Middle East should be treated not as strangers, but as
citizens, Benedict XVI said today to members of the Assembly of Societies
for Aid to Eastern Churches (ROACO).
In an address he gave to close
the 84th plenary session of the aid agencies, which took place this week
in the Vatican, the Pope urged those present to "do everything possible
[...] to ensure that the pastors and faithful of Christ can remain in the
East where they were born."
"The East is their earthly homeland," he
added. "It is there that they are called today to promote, without
distinction, the good of all mankind. Everyone professing this faith must
be recognized as having equal dignity and true freedom, thus favoring more
fruitful ecumenical and interreligious collaboration."
Father expressed his closeness to "those who are suffering and to those
who are trying desperately to escape, thereby increasing the flow of
migration that often remains without hope."
Benedict XVI said that
he prays "that every possible form of mediation will be explored, so that
violence may cease and social harmony and peaceful coexistence may
everywhere be restored, with respect for the rights of individuals as well
"Fervent prayer and reflection will help us at the
same time to read the signs emerging from the present season of toil and
tears: May the Lord of history always turn them to the common good," the
On Tuesday, Cardinal Leonardo
Sandri, the prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, opened the
plenary assembly calling for respect for the dignity and rights of the
human person in the context of the "Arab Spring."
Referring to the
series of anti-regime uprising that have taken place throughout the middle
east since late last year, the cardinal noted that it is a time of hope and
an opportunity for progress, but expressed the fear that discrimination
against Christians might increase.
"In many cases, these movements
coincide with the scheme of values of the Christian faith," he said. "We
certainly are for this change that respects the dignity of the human
person, especially religious liberty, but we are with all those who are
suffering the consequences of these changes, because just as we proclaim
these rights, there is also much suffering and violence causing many