Pastoral Notes November 8th, 2015

We are constantly reminded of Christians suffering in the Middle East, churches being burnt down in Syria, Egypt or Iraq, church-members being put to death. The Christians mentioned are largely eastern Orthodox (though also Catholics of eastern Rite), who are so close to us in all the sacraments and faith. Pope John Paul II helped a great deal to soften antagonism between Orthodox and Catholic Christians, especially in his late visit to Greece, where he lamented the behaviour of the Crusaders in the Middle Ages, passing through Constantinople and sacking the city, while on their way to protect the ‘holy places’ in Jerusalem! Thursday is the feast of St Josaphat, a Ukrainian bishop, martyred while trying to bring his flock into union with the Catholic Church in 1623. Pope Paul VI (died 1978) said, the closer we come to Christ, the closer we come to each other. May that show in our present care for all suffering in the Middle East.