(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis received representatives from the various Catholic aid agencies and charitable organizations under the leadership of the Pontifical Council Cor unum working in Iraq, Syria, and other countries in the region affected by the ongoing conflicts in both Syria and Iraq.
The Pontifical Council Cor unum is the Pope’s special instrument for carrying out humanitarian initiatives, promoting integral human development, coordinatinge the initiatives of Catholic Organizations, and encouraging the faithful to give concrete witness to the Gospel through charitable activity.
In remarks prepared for the occasion and delivered to the roughly 100 people – including the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura – Pope Francis placed the work of Cor unum and partners in the key of mercy.
“The work of all who like you, represent so many workers in the field, who are committed to helping refugees and to safeguarding their dignity,” said Pope Francis, “is certainly a reflection of God’s mercy and, as such, a sign that evil has limits and does not have the last word.”
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The Holy Father renewed his condemnation of the ongoing violence, saying, “We must note with great sadness that since our last meeting a year ago, despite extensive efforts made in a variety of areas, the logic of arms and oppression, hidden interests and violence continues to wreak devastation on these countries and that, even now, we have not been able to put an end to the exasperating suffering and repeated violations of human rights.”
Pope Francis went on to discuss the recent attack on a UN humanitarian aid convoy in Syria, saying it is wrapped up in the mystery of iniquity – over which Christ has however won decisive victory.
“Violence begets violence, and we have the impression of being caught up in a spiral of arrogance and inertia from which there is no escape. This evil which grips our will and conscience should challenge us. Why, even at the cost of untold damage to persons, property and the environment, does man continue to pursue abuses of power, revenge and violence? We think of the recent attack on a United Nations humanitarian convoy… This is the experience of the mysterium iniquitatis, that evil which is present in man and in history and which needs to be redeemed. Destruction for destruction’s sake.”
“And so,” Pope Francis continued, “during this Year, in which we fix our gaze more intensely on Christ, on Mercy incarnate who has conquered sin and death, I am reminded of the words of Saint John Paul II: ‘The limit imposed upon evil, of which man is both perpetrator and victim, is ultimately the Divine Mercy.’ It is the only limit.”
“Yes,” said Pope Francis, “the answer to the drama of evil lies in the mystery of Christ.”