Vatican City, 21 November 2013 (VIS) – At 10 a.m. today, in the Consistory Hall of the Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father received in audience the Patriarchs of the Oriental Catholic Churches, along with the Major Archbishops. It is the first time since the beginning of his pontificate that the Bishop of Rome has held such a long meeting with the Heads of the Oriental Churches and he therefore took the opportunity to “renew the great esteem for the spiritual heritage of the Christian East, and to recall Benedict XVI's description of a Church leader in his post-Synodal exhortation “Ecclesia in Medio Oriente”. “You are, he said 'watchful guardians of communion and servants of ecclesial unity'”.

“In order for our testimony to be credible”, he continued, “we must always seek justice, piety, faith, love, patience and clemency, adopting a sober manner of life in imitation of Christ, who embraced poverty so that we might be enriched; with tireless zeal and with the charity, both fraternal and paternal, that the bishops, priests and faithful, especially those who are alone or marginalised, expect of us”.

Francis spoke of the good example that the heads of the Churches should give, especially to priests who expect “transparency in the management of goods, and concern for every weakness or need”. He concluded by emphasising that this must all be achieved through “the committed application of that authentic synodal practice distinctive of the Oriental Churches”.

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