Francis and AramIn these days approaching Pentecost Sunday, we ought to set our eyes on the coming of the Holy Spirit. I find it striking in these days leading up to the great feast of the Pentecost that there have been many meetings between the Bishop of Rome and those bishops of Eastern Christianity. These meetings happen but so many so close together…and today is no different.

In Rome, Pope Francis met with His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Armenian Apostolic Church of Cilicia. Aram is well-known among the various Christian bodies who work in the World Council of Churches but also in the Middle East Council of Churches. Few of the patriarchs have as personally as Aram have made lasting contributions  in the ongoing work of the Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches. Remember, the Oriental Churches are those who historically didn’t share the accepted Chalcedonian Christology (Coptic, Armenian, Church of the East, etc.)

Aram blessing with relicIn the Vatican press we read that Pope Francis noted how he –and the Church of Rome– considers the Armenian Church and the Catholicos Aram I as “a part of the Christian world that is irrevocably marked by a history of trials and sufferings courageously accepted for the love of God. The Armenian Apostolic Church has had to become a pilgrim people; it has experienced in a singular way what it means to journey towards the Kingdom of God. The history of emigration, persecutions and the martyrdom experienced by so many of the faithful has inflicted deep wounds on the hearts of all Armenians. We must see and venerate these as wounds inflicted on the very body of Christ, and for this very reason a cause for unfailing hope and trust in the provident mercy of the Father”.

Philippa Hitchen and Aram“In these days before Pentecost … in faith, let us invoke the Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life, that he may renew the face of the earth, be a source of healing for our wounded world, and reconcile the hearts of all men and women with God the Creator. May He, the Paraclete, inspire our journey towards unity. May He teach us to strengthen the fraternal bonds which even now unite us in the one baptism and in the one faith.”

Here is Vatican Radio’s Philippa Hitchen’s interview with Aram. Listen…