At a brief prayer service with Chaldean Catholics in Georgia, Pope Francis has pleaded with God to grant peace to persecuted Christians and the victims of war, especially in Syria and Iraq.
With 300 people squeezed into the small Chaldean Church of St Simon
the Tanner, Pope Francis joined representatives of the Chaldean
community who have lived in Georgia for generations, but also most of
the Chaldean Church’s bishops, who came from Iraq, Syria and throughout
the Middle East to pray with the Pope.
Chaldean bishops and donors from the United States also were present.
They provided much of the money to build the Church of St Simon, which
was consecrated in 2009.
Patriarch Louis Sako of Baghdad led the formal prayers, which were chanted in Aramaic.
Pope Francis did not preach at the service, but recited a prayer
composed for the occasion, asking the crucified Jesus to free humanity
from “every division and evil” and to bring about his “kingdom of
justice, joy and peace”.
“Save the victims of injustice and maltreatment from their suffering,” he prayed.
Pope Francis prayed that Jesus would transform the suffering of “the
many innocent victims: the children, the elderly and the persecuted
Christians” and heal the wounds of “abused persons, deprived of freedom
Asking God to help people everywhere learn “the way of
reconciliation, dialogue and forgiveness,” he offered special prayers
for “exiles, refugees, and those who have lost the joy of living”.
“Let the peoples so wearied by bombing experience the joy of your
Resurrection,” he prayed. “Raise up Iraq and Syria from devastation.”
At the end of the service, which lasted less than 45 minutes, Pope Francis went outside and released a dove.