(RISU-Religious Information Service Ukraine)With a heartfelt appeal to the international community for an end to the conflict in Ukraine and a reminder about persecuted Christians especially in the Middle East, the Patriarch of Lisbon, Cardinal Manuel Clemente, this afternoon in the Portuguese capital opened the meeting of the Bishops of the Catholic Eastern Rite Churches in Europe, Council of European Bishops' Conferences informs.
In the Rua dos Jerónimos parish church hall, in the presence of a large delegation of bishops from Ukraine, led by His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk, Patriarch Clemente recalled the forgotten conflict in the Doneck region, inviting the international community to “take this conflict seriously” so that “private interests do not gain the upper hand over the good of peoples and peace”. Turning then to the other bishops gathered in the Portuguese capital – more than 50 bishops from 14 Catholic Eastern Rite Churches, and representatives of the Bishops’ Conferences of Germany, Italy and France – the Patriarch of Lisbon wanted to draw attention to the persecuted Churches. “Today, if your Churches are able to enjoy the fruits of re-discovered freedom, we also have the duty to remember the Churches which today are still persecuted, especially in the Middle East. So allow me to testify to the closeness of the whole of the Portuguese episcopate to the Churches in the Middle East: we do not forget you. Your martyrdom hangs over us! May the Consoler ensure you feel His presence”.
Focussing then on the theme of the meeting The pastoral care of Eastern Rite Catholic migrants in Western countries, the Portuguese Patriarch recalled how the phenomenon of the migration of thousands of Christian faithful which accompanied the fall of the Iron Curtain contributed not just to a better awareness of the ‘Catholicity’ of the Church but also to renewing it: “if years ago you were unknown by the majority of Portuguese, today your countries and your Churches have become for us names, real people, work colleagues, neighbours. This is the other side of migration. … now we don’t know you just as something heard about, but because we have seen and known you, because we have eaten, celebrated and cried with you. This experience of sharing life allows us to say with joy that your people and your Churches are a gift for all of us”. Continue here