Catholics throughout the Middle East will observe a “Peace Day for the East” on June 27, with a special Mass in each of the countries served by the Council of Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops of the Middle East (CCPO).
“It has been decided that a Mass should be celebrated in each one of the countries belonging to the Council of the Catholic Patriarchs in the Middle East,” writes Patriarch Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, “and thus all the patriarchs and bishops are invited to participate in this intense prayer, and to be in a profound Communion of prayer together during this blessed day.”
From Rome, Pope Francis is expected to give a special Apostolic Blessing for the “Peace Day for the East.”
Patriarch Pierbattista is the President of the CCPO, which also includes the Patriarchs the Coptic Catholic Church, the Maronite Church, the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, the Syriac Catholic Church, the Chaldean Catholic Church, and the Armenian Catholic Church.
The Peace Day is an initiative of the CCPO’s Episcopal Committee “Justice and Peace” on the occasion of the 130th anniversary of the promulgation of Pope Leo XIII’s social justice encyclical Rerum novarum on “the rights and duties of capital and labour.”
Patriarch Pierbattista announced that, for the Day, all the Ordinaries of the Holy Land would participate in a special Mass at the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth, where they will also bless an Icon of the Holy Family, inlaid with relics from the Basilica. The Icon will then be taken on pilgrimage through the countries of the East, before heading to Rome for the end of the Year of St Joseph, which was proclaimed by Pope Francis to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Bd Pius IX’s declaration of St Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church. The Icon will then return to the Holy Land, where it will find a permanent home.
In his letter, Patriarch Pierbattista writes, “You are all invited thus to participate through your presence, and if not possible, through your communion with us in prayer, each one from his home Parish or convent, to implore the Mercy of God and His Peace on this beloved Middle East, where the Christian faith is born and still alive, despite the sufferings.”