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Cardinal Farrell: St. John the Baptist is a ‘witness to the sacredness of life’

Cardinal Kevin Farrell celebrates Mass in St. Peter's Basilica for the World Meeting of Families 2022 / Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Vatican City, Jun 23, 2022 / 02:30 am (CNA).

Cardinal Kevin Farrell said on Thursday that Saint John the Baptist is a witness to the sacredness of life from conception to natural death.

The Irish-American cardinal celebrated Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica for the Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist on June 23.

The Mass in English was part of the World Meeting of Families 2022, taking place in Rome from June 22-26 with families from around the world. Families are also encouraged to participate in the event from home via livestream.

Even before Saint John the Baptist was born, “at the moment of Mary’s greeting, [he] recognized the Lord Jesus and leaped for joy in Elizabeth’s womb,” Farrell said.

“A call from God reached him while he was still in the womb,” he noted. “It invested him with the great task of preparing the hearts of humankind to receive the Savior of the world.”

The cardinal, who leads the Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life, which organized the World Meeting of Families, said Saint John’s reaction to encountering the unborn Jesus points to an important aspect of family life.

“All of this helps us to understand another key dimension of the family vocation,” he said, “to be guardians of the sacredness of human life from the first moment of conception to natural death.”

Saint John the Baptist’s birth is ordinarily celebrated on June 24, but is moved to June 23 when it coincides with the Feast of Corpus Christi or the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, as happened this year.

In his homily, Cardinal Farrell, who is camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church, reflected on the liturgy’s first reading, from the Prophet Isaiah.

“The Lord called me from birth, from my mother’s womb he gave me my name,” Farrell said, quoting Isaiah 49:1.

“The life of each child must be protected and defended precisely because God has great plans for that child's goodness and holiness right from the beginning,” he said.

“God’s call has reached your children too,” he continued, “right from the beginning, so that all of them may be saints of tomorrow and will make our world a brighter place for all.”

Catholic family who welcomed Ukrainian refugees into their home share testimony at the Vatican

The Chiriaco family share their story at the World Meeting of Families, June 22, 2022. / Daniel Ibanez/CNA.

Vatican City, Jun 22, 2022 / 13:07 pm (CNA).

As millions of refugees fled the war in Ukraine this year, a Catholic family of eight made the decision to welcome a refugee family into their home.

Pietro and Erika Chiriaco live in Rome with their six children. The couple explained to their children during family prayer time that welcoming a refugee family would be “like welcoming Jesus.”

This is how Iryna and Sofia, a mother and her 17-year-old daughter from Kyiv, came to live in the Chiriaco family in the southern outskirts of Rome. 

The pair left the Ukrainian capital 10 days after the Russian invasion of Ukraine and eventually took a bus to Italy.

“The decision to leave was not easy,” Iryna said.

“Today I thank God because he sent so many good people in our path,” she added. 

Iryna and Sofia shared their story with the pope alongside the Chiriaco family on the stage of the World Meeting of Families, which is taking place in Rome June 22-26.

The Chiriacos said that they made the decision to host the Ukrainian refugees out of gratitude to God. Erika Chiriaco added that the presence of the Ukrainian mother and daughter in their home has been a “blessing from heaven.”

Pope Francis thanked the family for their generosity and for witnessing to what it means to be a “welcoming family.”

“Welcoming is truly a ‘charism’ of families, especially large families,” Pope Francis said.

“We may think that, in a large home, it is harder to welcome other people; yet that is not the case, for families with numerous children are trained to make room for others. They always find space for others.”

The pope added that a family is the place where a person “experiences what it is to be welcomed.” He said that this can be seen when a family welcomes the life of a child with a disability, welcomes a relative facing difficulties, or welcomes an elderly person in need of care. 

The organizers of the 10th World Meeting of Families are encouraging families to participate virtually in this Catholic tradition started by St. John Paul II by tuning into media broadcasts and live streams of the speeches and catecheses.

Pope Francis thanked Iryna and Sofia for sharing their witness to faith amid human brutality at the World Meeting of Families.

“You gave a voice to all those persons whose lives have been devastated by the war in Ukraine,” he said.

“In you, we see the faces and the stories of so many men and women forced to leave their homeland. We thank you, for you have not lost your trust in providence and you have seen how God is at work in your lives, not least through the flesh and blood people he led you to encounter.”

Catholic marriage is a gift, not a formality, Pope Francis says at World Meeting of Families 2022 opening

Pope Francis speaks at the opening of the World Meeting of Families in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall, June 22, 2022. / Daniel Ibanez/CNA.

Vatican City, Jun 22, 2022 / 12:10 pm (CNA).

Pope Francis said Wednesday that Catholic marriage is a gift, not just a formality or rule.

“Marriage is not a formality to be fulfilled. You don’t get married to be Catholic ‘with the label,’ to obey a rule, or because the Church says so, or to throw a party,” the pope said at the opening event of the World Meeting of Families on June 22.

“You get married,” he continued, “because you want to base your marriage on the love of Christ, which is as firm as a rock.”

“We can say that when a man and a woman fall in love, God offers them a gift: marriage. A wonderful gift, which has in it the power of divine love: strong, enduring, faithful, able to recover after any failure or fragility,” Francis said. 

The World Meeting of Families 2022 opened with a Festival of Families in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall. The event featured a performance by Italian operatic rock trio Il Volo.

Pope Francis and around 2,000 families from around the world also listened to the testimonies of married couples and individuals with stories of overcoming incredible challenges or of serving others.

The 10th edition of the World Meeting of Families, which ends on June 26, includes three days of talks from lay Catholics on subjects related to marriage and the family. Mass and Eucharistic adoration are also on the schedule.

Pope Francis told families: “In marriage Christ gives himself to you, so that you have the strength to give yourselves to each other.”

“Take courage, then, family life is not an impossible mission,” he added. “With the grace of the sacrament, God makes it a wonderful journey to be taken together with him, never alone.”

“Family is not a beautiful ideal, unattainable in reality. God guarantees his presence in marriage and family, not only on your wedding day but throughout your life. And he sustains you every day in your journey,” Francis said.

First married couple to be beatified together featured at World Meeting of Families

Blessed Luigi and Maria Beltrame Quattrocchi. / Courtesy of Diocese of Rome

Vatican City, Jun 22, 2022 / 09:46 am (CNA).

Relics of the first married couple to be beatified together by the Catholic Church can be venerated inside St. Peter’s Basilica this week during the World Meeting of Families in Rome.

Blessed Luigi and Maria Beltrame Quattrocchi are the official patrons of the 10th World Meeting of Families taking place in Rome on June 22-26.

The Italian couple was married for 45 years, enduring two world wars together and nurturing their four children’s vocations in service of the Church amid unprecedented difficulties facing Europe.

Both of their sons became priests in the 1930s and went on to concelebrate the beatification Mass of their parents with John Paul II in 2001. 

Their eldest son, Father Tarcisio Beltrame, a Benedictine monk, and his younger brother Father Paolino, a Trappist, both risked their lives to secretly work with the resistance during the Nazi occupation of Italy in World War II, while the Beltrame Quattrocchi family’s apartment in Rome served as a hiding place for fugitives and Italians with Jewish heritage.

A living relative of the Beltrame Quattrocchi family says that he has documents from the U.S. Office of Strategic Services (OSS) confirming the sons’ collaboration in the Resistance movement, which was made even riskier by the fact that the family’s apartment was located right by the headquarters of the German command in Rome. 

“If they had been discovered they would have all been immediately shot,” Francesco Beltrame Quattrocchi told EWTN. 

The Beltrame Quattrocchis’ daughters also enthusiastically served the Church. Their eldest daughter, Stefania, entered a Benedictine monastery as a nun in 1927. And the youngest child in their family, Enrichetta Beltrame Quattrocchi, was a lay consecrated woman who has been declared venerable.

‘Extraordinarily rich spiritual life’

At the root of their children’s vocations and the courageous witness of the Beltrame Quattrocchi family during times of trial was the rich spiritual foundation within Luigi and Maria’s marriage. 

When St. John Paul II beatified Luigi and Maria in 2001, he said that the blessed married couple “lived an ordinary life in an extraordinary way.”

“Among the joys and anxieties of a normal family, they knew how to live an extraordinarily rich spiritual life. At the center of their life was the daily Eucharist as well as devotion to the Virgin Mary, to whom they prayed every evening with the rosary,” he said.

Luigi and Maria lived lives of heroic virtue together as spouses and parents. The couple was married in the Basilica of St. Mary Major on Nov. 25, 1905. Luigi was 25 years old and Maria was 21. A plaque commemorating their marriage can be seen in the basilica’s Corsini chapel today. 

After being married in Rome’s largest Marian basilica, the couple later entrusted their family and all their children to Our Lady of Divine Love.

The Beltrame Quattrocchi children. Courtesy of Diocese of Rome
The Beltrame Quattrocchi children. Courtesy of Diocese of Rome

“This couple lived married love and service to life in the light of the Gospel and with great human intensity. With full responsibility they assumed the task of collaborating with God in procreation, dedicating themselves generously to their children, to teach them, guide them and direct them to discovering his plan of love,” John Paul II said.

“From this fertile spiritual terrain sprang vocations to the priesthood and the consecrated life, which shows how, with their common roots in the spousal love of the Lord, marriage, and virginity may be closely connected and reciprocally enlightening.”

Luigi worked as a lawyer and Maria served as a catechist and wrote several books on education while raising their four children.

The couple also organized Catholic marriage preparation courses for engaged couples through their work in Catholic Action.

During World War I, the family also assisted the wounded and families facing difficulties. They also financially supported some young people who wished to become priests or enter religious life.

Luigi died of a heart attack in 1951 at the age of 71. Maria lived for another 14 years after the death of her beloved husband and continued her dedicated service to her family and the Church.

Relics of Luigi and Maria Beltrame Quattrocchi currently on display in St. Peter’s Basilica. CNA
Relics of Luigi and Maria Beltrame Quattrocchi currently on display in St. Peter’s Basilica. CNA

In addition to the first-class relics of the blessed married couple, which can be found in front of the main altar in St. Peter’s Basilica, several other personal items of theirs will be on display in the Paul VI Hall during the World Meeting of Families in Rome. 

The items showcase how the couple’s spiritual lives were intertwined with the love shared in their marriage. On display is the engagement ring that Luigi gave to Maria and the Bible that the couple would read together. 

There is also the small holy card of the Blessed Virgin of the Rosary of Pompei that Maria gave to Luigi before their wedding, which Luigi kept in his wallet for over 40 years. 

The beatified couple are buried together in Rome’s Sanctuary of Divine Love. 

Pope Francis mourns Catholic priests killed in Mexico

null / Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

Vatican City, Jun 22, 2022 / 06:35 am (CNA).

Pope Francis said Wednesday he is mourning the death of two Jesuit priests who were killed in Mexico this week.

“I also express my sorrow and dismay at the killing in Mexico the day before yesterday of two Jesuit religious, my brothers, and a layman,” the pope said on June 22 in St. Peter’s Square.

“How many killings in Mexico,” he said before thousands of pilgrims. “I am close with affection and prayer to the Catholic community affected by this tragedy. Once again, I repeat that violence does not solve problems, but increases unnecessary suffering.”

The Jesuits of Mexico announced Tuesday that two of their priests were killed on June 20 inside a church in a mountainous region of Chihuahua state.

Fathers Javier Campos Morales and Joaquín César Mora Salazar had served as Jesuit priests for nearly a century combined. The gunmen who carried out the June 20 attack on the church in Cerocahui, Chihuahua also took their bodies.

According to the Chihuahua State Attorney General’s Office, both priests tried to protect a person who sought refuge in the church while being chased by at least one other man, both armed, El Sol de Mexico newspaper reported. The chaser reportedly shot and killed all three men.

Luis Gerardo Moro Madrid SJ, Provincial of the Jesuits of Mexico, condemned the killings and said they are “working with the federal and state authorities to ensure the safety” of the parish’s two remaining priests.

Pope Francis expressed his sorrow at the death of the priests in an appeal at the end of his Wednesday general audience.

He also said he is praying for victims of a powerful earthquake in Afghanistan, which struck just after 1:30 a.m. local time on Wednesday.

At least 920 people have been killed, and hundreds injured, according to Taliban officials, the BBC reported.

“In the past few hours, an earthquake has claimed lives and caused extensive damage in Afghanistan,” Pope Francis said.

“I express my sympathy to the injured and those affected by the earthquake and pray especially for those who lost their lives and their families,” he said. “I hope that with everyone’s help, the suffering of the dear people of Afghanistan can be alleviated.”

Pope Francis: Do not sugarcoat your witness of the Gospel

Pope Francis speaks at the general audience on June 22, 2022. / Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Vatican City, Jun 22, 2022 / 04:00 am (CNA).

Do not sugarcoat your witness of the Gospel, but let the truth be made manifest even through your weakness, Pope Francis said in St. Peter’s Square on Wednesday.

“We can ask ourselves: are we capable of preserving the tenor of this relationship of Jesus with the disciples, according to that style of his that is so open, so frank, so direct, so humanly real?” the pope said on June 22. “How is our relationship with Jesus? Is it like that, like him with his disciples?”

“Are we not, instead, very often tempted to enclose the testimony of the Gospel in the cocoon of a ‘sugary’ revelation, to which is added our own circumstantial veneration?” he continued. “This attitude, which seems like respect, actually distances us from the real Jesus, and even becomes the occasion for a very abstract, very self-referential, very worldly walk of faith.”

Pope Francis said Jesus is present to us even in our old age and infirmity, as our dependency on others grows.

Pope Francis greets pilgrims at the general audience on June 22, 2022. Daniel Ibanez/CNA
Pope Francis greets pilgrims at the general audience on June 22, 2022. Daniel Ibanez/CNA

“Jesus is the Word of God made man, and he acts as man, he speaks to us as man, God-man. With this tenderness, with this friendship, with this closeness. Jesus is not like that sugary image in those little pictures, no: Jesus is at our side, he is close to us,” he said.

Continuing a series of lessons on old age, Francis reflected during the general audience on Jesus’ “moving dialogue” with Peter at the end of the Gospel of John.

The conversation, in which Jesus asks Peter if he loves him, reflects “a relationship in truth,” he said.

He recalled Jesus’ words to St. Peter, that “when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”

Pope Francis greets children from Ukraine who are studying at a school in Rome. Daniel Ibanez/CNA
Pope Francis greets children from Ukraine who are studying at a school in Rome. Daniel Ibanez/CNA

The pope encouraged the elderly to embrace their weaknesses and their ill health, rather than fight against it.

“Tell me about having to go in a wheelchair, eh,” he said. Pope Francis has been using a cane and wheelchair in recent weeks due to an inflamed ligament in his knee.

“But that’s how it is, that’s how life is: with old age you get all these diseases and we have to accept them as they come, don’t we,” he remarked.

“We don’t have the strength of the young,” the pope continued. “And your witness, too, Jesus says, will go along with this weakness. You are to give witness to Jesus even in weakness, in sickness and death.”

Pope Francis recalled a quote from St. Ignatius of Loyola, who said, “Just as in life, even in death we must bear witness as disciples of Jesus.”

Even at the end of life we must continue to be disciples of Christ, he urged, noting that St. John the Evangelist, in the Gospel, explains that Jesus is alluding to the witness of martyrdom.

“But we can well understand more generally the meaning of this admonition: your pursuit [of Jesus] will have to learn to be taught and shaped by your frailty, your helplessness, your dependence on others, even in dressing, in walking,” he said.

Jesus, the pope said, continues to say, “you, ‘follow me.’”

Catholics should reflect, he said, on how to “remain faithful to the lived pursuit, to the promised love, to the justice sought in the time of our capacity for initiative, in the time of fragility, in the time of dependence, of leave-taking…”

“Following Jesus is important: always follow Jesus, on foot, running, slowly, in a wheelchair, but always follow him,” he urged.

Pope Francis: Nuclear weapons are ‘immoral’

null / Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jun 21, 2022 / 11:45 am (CNA).

Pope Francis condemned the use of nuclear weapons in favor of a “culture of life and peace” in a message released Tuesday. 

“I wish to reaffirm that the use of nuclear weapons, as well as their mere possession, is immoral,” the pontiff wrote to Ambassador Alexander Kmentt, president of the First Meeting of States Parties, regarding the U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). 

“Trying to defend and ensure stability and peace through a false sense of security and a ‘balance of terror,' sustained by a mentality of fear and mistrust inevitably ends up poisoning relationships between peoples and obstructing any possible form of real dialogue,” Pope Francis wrote. “Possession leads easily to threats of their use, becoming a sort of ‘blackmail’ that should be repugnant to the consciences of humanity.” 

States parties to the TPNW are gathering in Vienna, Austria, June 21-23 to “commit to concrete actions to implement obligations under the Treaty,” which envisions a world without nuclear weapons, according to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons

“The Holy See has no doubt that a world free from nuclear weapons is both necessary and possible,” Pope Francis added. “In a system of collective security, there is no place for nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.”

Pope Francis identified the treaty’s “courageous vision” as “ever more timely,” adding that “we need to remain aware of the dangers of short-sighted approaches to national and international security and the risks of proliferation.”

“As we know all too well, the price for not doing so is inevitably paid by the number of innocent lives taken and measured in terms of carnage and destruction,” he said.

He urged that disarmament treaties are not only legal obligations but also “moral commitments.” 

Peace, Pope Francis said, is “indivisible,” and to be just and lasting, it must also be “universal.” 

“It is deceptive and self-defeating reasoning to think that the security and peace of some is disconnected from the collective security and peace of others,” he said.

He emphasized the Catholic Church's role.

“For its part, the Catholic Church remains irrevocably committed to promoting peace between peoples and nations and fostering education for peace throughout its institutions,” the pope’s statement says. “This is a duty to which the Church feels bound before God and every man and woman in our world.”

Pope Francis called on people to be responsible for maintaining peace, both on a public level and a personal level. It is a legal discussion as well as an ethical discussion, he said. He added that this treaty recognizes that education for peace can play an important role in teaching current and future generations.

The statement also paid homage to the survivors of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as well as to all victims of nuclear-arms testing.

Pope Francis closed by encouraging representatives, international organizations, and all of civil society to continue to promote “a culture of life and peace based upon the dignity of the human person and the awareness that we are all brothers and sisters.”

Pope Francis has expressed concern about nuclear weapons in the past. More recently, in the context of Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, the pope said that the image of Noah’s flood is “gaining ground in our subconscious” as the world considers the possibility of a nuclear war “that will extinguish us.”

Reflecting on World Refugee Day, USCCB’s Migration Chairman Encourages Proactive Response to Forced Displacement

WASHINGTON - World Refugee Day, observed in the United States and around the world on June 20, was established by the United Nations to increase awareness of refugees and other forcibly displaced persons. Catholic dioceses, parishes, and organizations across the globe commemorated this annual event, celebrating the positive contributions of refugees and the efforts of communities to welcome them.

Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration, issued the following statement:

“Almost seventy years ago, in his apostolic constitution Exsul Familia, Pope Pius XII boldly proclaimed that the ‘Holy Family of Nazareth, fleeing into Egypt, is the archetype of every refugee family.’ In the aftermath of World War II, that image of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph seeking safety had been the lived reality of millions. Today, that number has grown to surpass any other point in history, propelled by the ravages of war, persecution, famine, and other tragedies. This is the persistent nature of forced displacement, and it requires a proactive response.

“As we work now to support those displaced by the war in Ukraine, we continue to urge a more robust use of the Refugee Admissions Program, which is designed to ensure the long-term integration and self-sufficiency of newly arrived refugees. Consistent with those same goals, we renew our appeal for Congress to pass legislation that would provide a pathway to permanent legal status for our new Afghan neighbors. Finally, we reaffirm the importance of asylum as a vital mechanism for humanitarian protection.

“May the Holy Family serve as a source of hope and strength for all those seeking safety, and may we who are called to know, love, and serve God recognize him in those displaced.”

The USCCB, through its Department of Migration and Refugee Services, is one of nine national  resettlement agencies supporting the Refugee Admissions Program. Through this work, the Catholic Church in the United States answers Christ’s call to welcome the stranger and carries out the Church’s commitment to protecting the life and dignity of every human person, from the moment of conception to natural death.

Resources related to World Refugee Day, Ukraine, and other topics can be found on the Justice for Immigrants website.

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Media Contact:
Chieko Noguchi
202-541-3200

Supreme Court Rules That Maine Cannot Discriminate Against Religious Schools Because They Teach Religion

WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court of the United States issued its decision in the case of Carson v. Makin, which challenged a decision by the First Circuit to allow the State of Maine to exclude religious schools from a tuition assistance benefit on the basis that those schools include religion as part of their instruction. By vote of 6-3, the Court ruled in favor of the petitioners. 

Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee for Religious Liberty, and Bishop Thomas A. Daly of Spokane, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Catholic Education, issued a statement in response to the Court’s ruling:

“The Supreme Court has rightly ruled that the Constitution protects not just the right to be religious but also to act religious. This common-sense result reflects the essence of Catholic education. Moreover, the Court has again affirmed that states cannot exclude religious schools from generally-available public benefits based on their religious affiliation or exercise. In our pluralistic society, it is vital that all people of faith be able to participate in publicly available programs and so to contribute to the common good.

“It is fitting that this decision concerns a program in Maine, the state that James G. Blaine served as Senator in 1875 when he worked for the passage of the Blaine Amendment – a cynically anti-Catholic measure to amend the U.S. Constitution to ensure that no public aid be provided to ‘sectarian’ schools. While his effort was narrowly defeated, Blaine Amendments were ultimately adopted in some form by 37 states. These laws have nothing to do with government neutrality towards religion. Rather, they are expressions of hostility toward Catholics. We are grateful that the Supreme Court continues to rebuke this harmful legacy.”

The USCCB filed an amicus curiae brief supporting the petitioners, which may be found here: https://www.usccb.org/about/general-counsel/amicus-briefs/upload/Christian%20Legal%20Society%20et%20al%20amicus%20brief.pdf.

Background on Blaine Amendments may be found here: https://www.usccb.org/committees/religious-liberty/religious-liberty-backgrounder-blaine-amendments.

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Media Contact:
Chieko Noguchi
202-541-3200

Pope Francis discusses ‘survival of Christians in the Middle East’ with Melkite bishops

Pope Francis met with the synod of bishops of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church on June 20, 2022. / Vatican Media

Vatican City, Jun 20, 2022 / 09:45 am (CNA).

Pope Francis discussed the "survival of Christians in the Middle East" with Catholic bishops from Syria and Lebanon at the Vatican on Monday.

The pope met with Patriarch Youssef Absi of Antioch and other representatives of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church as the Eastern church began its synod of bishops, which is taking place in Rome June 20-25.

In the meeting, Absi asked Pope Francis to put pressure on political authorities to “draw a red line,” prioritizing the protection of the Christian presence in the Middle East.

The patriarch told the pope of the Melkite bishops’ concern that widespread poverty, low standards of living, and dangerous conditions have led to a wave of emigration from the region, particularly of young people.

Pope Francis said: “You are rightly concerned about the survival of Christians in the Middle East — I too am worried — it’s a concern that I fully share.”

The pope also noted that the Melkite church now has a worldwide presence with eparchies in Argentina, Australia, the United States, Canada, and Venezuela.

The Melkite Greek Catholic Church is an Eastern Catholic Church in full communion with the pope based in the Syrian capital of Damascus. Absi was elected as the Melkite patriarch of Antioch, Alexandria, Jerusalem and All the East during a synod in Lebanon in 2017.

Pope Francis recalled that since the start of his pontificate thousands of people have died in “beloved and martyred Syria” and millions more have fled the region as refugees.

“The tragedies of recent months, which sadly force us to turn our gaze to the east of Europe, must not make us forget what has been going on in your land for 12 years,” the pope said.

During the meeting, Pope Francis renewed his appeal to both Syrian authorities and the international community to achieve “an equitable and just solution to the tragedy in Syria.”

“On more than one occasion I happened to meet and hear the account of some young Syrian who had arrived here, and I was struck by the drama he carried within him, by what he had experienced and seen, but also by his gaze, almost drained of hope, unable to dream of a future for his land. We cannot allow even the last spark of hope to be taken out of the eyes and hearts of young people and families,” the pope said.