Pope Francis received a delegation of the Catholic Patriarchs of the East in the Vatican. The delegation included their Beatitudes Bishara Boutros al-Rahi, chairman of the Council of the Patriarchs of the East, Syriac Catholic Patriarch Joseph III Younan, Patriarch of Antioch for the Roman Catholics Youssef Al-Absi, Chaldean Patriarch of Babylon Cardinal Louis Sako, Patriarch of Alexandria for the Coptic Catholics Ibrahim Isaac and the Catholicos of Cilicia and the Armenian Catholics his Beatitude Gregoire Boutros Gebroyan.
At the meeting, the patriarchs discussed church issues and the general situation in the Middle East. The Pope also received a detailed note from Patriarch al-Rahi explaining the overall situation in Lebanon and the region. The patriarchs focused on the issues Eastern Christians face and the Christian testimony in the region: coexistence, the importance of the Christians presence, role and mission.
After the meeting, Patriarch al-Rahi stated: “Our meeting today with His Holiness was at the request of the six Eastern Catholic Patriarchs. We worked on preparing a paper that included the subjects that we wanted to discuss with his holiness, of which are ecclesiastical issues and church affairs. The Pope, in turn, participated with his points of view and advice.”
Patriarch Al-Rahi added: “The second topic that we raised was a quick review of the general situation in our countries: Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Egypt. In addition to the current wars and crises that led to the emigration of Christians which obligated us to follow up on their conditions and visit them wherever they are. The visits are organized according to the decisions of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council.
The third topic of discussion was the Gulf region which was originally subordinate to the mandate of the Patriarchs of the East and then extracted due to historical circumstances. This topic was raised again in the Congregation of the Eastern Churches and was positively voted on, i.e. to restore patriarchal authority over the Gulf region. In addition, His Holiness the Pope agreed to the result of the vote, which restores the Gulf region to the patriarchal authority.”