Pope, Melkite patriarch formalise full communion
Formalising their unity in the intimate setting of the chapel of the papal residence, Pope Francis and Melkite Patriarch Joseph Absi concelebrated Mass together in the presence of members of the Melkite synod of bishops.
Instead of giving a homily at the early morning Mass on 13th February, Pope Francis explained the special nature of Patriarch Absi’s visit.
“He is the father of a church, a very ancient church, and he comes to embrace Peter, to say, ‘I’m in communion with Peter,'” Pope Francis said during the Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae. The Melkite church, one of the many Eastern churches in full union with Rome, “has its own theology within Catholic theology, it has a marvelous liturgy and a people of its own.”
“At this time, a large portion of that people is being crucified like Jesus,” the pope said, referring especially to Melkites who, like Patriarch Absi, are from Syria. “We offer this Mass for the people, for the people who suffer, for the persecuted Christians of the Middle East.”
Picture: Pope Francis accepts gifts from Melkite Patriarch Joseph Absi during a meeting with the Melkite synod of bishops at the Vatican on 12th February. The Melkite Church is an Eastern Catholic church in full communion with Rome. (CNS photo/Vatican Media).