Francis encourages suffering Iraqi Christians.
Pope Francis sought to encourage Iraq’s beleaguered Christians who are under threat from Islamic militants, saying they are the "heart" of the Church and that the Church is proud of them.
"Today, I especially wish to assure the…defenceless and persecuted, of my closeness – you are in the heart of the Church, the Church suffers with you and is proud of you, proud to have sons and daughters like you," he said in comments translated into Arabic during the his weekly General Audience in St. Peter’s Square. “You are the strength and the concrete and authentic example of her message of salvation, forgiveness and love. I embrace all of you, all of you. May the Lord bless you and protect you always.”
He also addressed Polish-speaking pilgrims and recalled that, during these days various cities in Poland commemorate the 75th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War.
“Let us entrust to God’s mercy those who lost their lives for the love of their homeland and their brothers, and let us invoke the gift of peace in all the nations of Europe and throughout the world, by the intercession of Mary, Queen of Peace.”
Finally, he greeted the faithful from the Italian diocese of Terni-Narni-Amelia, to whom he expressed his concerns regarding the difficult situation experienced by many families in Terni due to the plans of the Thyssenkrupp Corporation, and renewed his appeal that “the logic of profit may not prevail, but rather that of solidarity and justice. The person and his or her dignity is at the heart of every issue, including that of work. We must not joke about work. Those who, for the sake of money, business and greater profit, leave people without work, must be aware that this means removing their dignity.”
Tens of thousands gathered on a bright sunny day to hear the Pope reflect on the maternal nature of the Church. He called her “a mother” who gives us “life in Christ,” and reminded the faithful she will never leave them “orphaned.”
He was continuing his series of reflections on how one does not become Christian autonomously, by oneself. We are created and grow in the faith, he said, in this “great body which is the Church.”
Here is the official English summary of the Pope’s remarks:
Dear Brothers and Sisters: In our catecheses, we have often noted that we do not become a Christian on our own, but by being born and nurtured in the faith in the midst of the People of God, that is the Church. She is a true mother who gives us life in Christ and, in the communion of the Holy Spirit, brings us into a common life with our brothers and sisters. The model of motherhood for the Church is the Blessed Virgin Mary, who in the fullness of time conceived through the Holy Spirit and gave birth to the Son of God. Her motherhood continues through the Church, who brings forth sons and daughters through baptism, whom she nourishes through the Word of God. In fact, Jesus gave the Gospel to the Church to bring forth new life by generously proclaiming his word and winning other sons and daughters for God our Father. As a mother, the Church nurtures us throughout life by illuminating our path with the light of the Gospel and by sustaining us with the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist. With this nourishment, we are able to choose the good and be vigilant against evil and deceit, and overcome the difficult moments of life with courage and hope. This is the Church: a mother who has at heart the good of her children. And since we are the Church, we are called to live this same spiritual, maternal attitude towards our brothers and sisters, by welcoming, forgiving and inspiring trust and hope.