“The embrace of the father of a Church with Peter” – this is, according to Pope Francis, the meaning of this morning’s Mass at Santa Marta, concelebrated with Youssef Absi, Patriarch of the Church of Antioch of the Greek Melkites. “This Mass with our Brother, Patriarch Youssef, will be the apostolica communio”, Pope Francis began, explaining today’s celebration: “He is the father of a Church, of an ancient Church, and he comes to embrace Peter, to say ‘I am in communion with Peter’. This is what today’s ceremony means”. Pope Francis called the Greek Melkite Church “a rich Church, with its own theology within Catholic theology, with its own wonderful liturgy and with a people; at this time, a great part of these people are crucified, like Jesus”. “We offer this Mass for the people, for the suffering people, for the Christians persecuted in the Middle East, who give their lives, their belongings, their homes, because they are driven away”, the Pope continued. “And we also offer Mass for the ministry of our brother Youssef”. At the end of Mass, the Patriarch thanked Pope Francis in French and, at the invitation of the Pope, they imparted the final blessing together. “I would like to thank you for this beautiful Mass of communion, on behalf of the whole Synod of our Greek-Melkite Catholic Church”, Patriarch Youssef said. “Personally, I am truly moved by your fraternal charity, by the gestures of fraternity and of solidarity that you have shown to our Church during this Mass. We promise to keep it always in our hearts, in the heart of us all, clergy and faithful, and we will always remember this event, these historical moments, this moment that I cannot describe, as it is so beautiful: this fraternity, this communion that binds all the disciples of Christ. Thank you, Holiness”.