Vatican City, 7 March 2012 (VIS) - At the end of his catechesis during this morning's general audience, the Holy Father addressed some words of greeting to His Beatitude Nerses Bedros XIX Tarmouni, patriarch of Cilicia of the Armenians, and to bishops of the Armenian Catholic Church who have come to Rome for a Synod. Benedict XVI spoke of his "sincere gratitude" for the patriarch’s faithfulness to his Christian traditions and to the Successor of the Apostle Peter.

"I accompany your Synod with my fervent prayers and with an apostolic blessing, in the hope that it may favour communion and understating among pastors, helping them to guide, with renewed evangelical fervour, Armenian Catholics along the path of generous and joyful witness to Christ and His Church. ... My prayerful thoughts also go to the regions of the Middle East, and I encourage pastors and faithful to persevere with hope amidst the great suffering which afflicts those dear peoples".

Finally the Pope addressed greetings in various languages to the pilgrims gathered before him in St. Peter's Square. Speaking Polish he mentioned the victims of a recent rail accident in the country. "I pray for the eternal repose of the deceased", he said, "and for the speedy return to health of the injured".

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