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European bishops, Armenian Patriarch congratulate Pope on anniversary

On the 10th anniversary of the election of Pope Francis, well-wishes continue to pour in from church leaders around the world

By Joseph Tulloch

Exactly ten years ago, Jorge Maria Bergoglio became Pope Francis.

Over the past few days, congratulations from religious leaders, both inside and outside the Catholic Church, have been pouring in from all over the world.

Today, they were joined by the Council of European Bishops Conferences, the Patriarch of the Armenian Catholic Church, and the Presidency of the Italian Bishops Conference.

Pope’s “European Magisterium”

The European bishops began by recalling the Pope’s visit to the European Parliament in 2014, his winning the prestigious Charlemagne Prize – awarded every year for contributions to European integration – in 2016, and his meeting with European politicians on the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome. These contributions, they suggested, amount to a sort of “European Magisterium.”

The bishops went on to cite several of the Holy Father’s speeches on the subject of Europe, including the following line from an address to politicians:

“The founding fathers remind us that Europe is not a conglomeration of rules to obey, or a manual of protocols and procedures to follow. It is a way of life, a way of understanding man based on his transcendent and inalienable dignity, as something more than simply a sum of rights to defend or claims to advance.”

Deepening relationship with Armenia

Meanwhile, Patriarch Raphaël Bedros XXI Minassian, head of the Armenian Catholic Church, recalled the gestures of friendship Pope Francis has made toward the West Asian country.

The Patriarch emphasised, in particular, his visit to Armenia, his proclamation of the Armenian Saint Gregory Narek as a Doctor of the Church, and his remembrance of the victims of the Armenian genocide.

The ten years of Pope Francis’ pontificate, he said, “have been ten years in which the Armenian people – not just Catholics, but Orthodox and Protestants too – have felt closer to the heart of the successor of Peter.” The Holy Father’s visit to Armenia in 2016, Patriarch Minassian said, was thus “pastoral and ecumenical at the same time.”

Pope Francis in Armenia

Pope Francis in Armenia

Ten years of dialogue

The Italian bishops, on the other hand, began their letter by evoking the Pope’s first public appearance.

“Ten years have passed,” they wrote, “since that ‘good evening’ which introduced you to the Church and to the whole world. From that moment, your words and your gestures have continued to move hearts, to surprise, to speak to each and every one of us”

“That greeting,” they said, “was the beginning of a dialogue. Since then, you have helped us to understand how attractive the Gospel is, how persuasive, how capable of responding to the many questions of history.”

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