On Friday 21 February, the Holy Father received in a private audience a delegation of young priests and monks of the different Oriental Orthodox Churches taking part in a study visit to Rome organized by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
Accompanying the group, in his greeting Cardinal Koch presented the delegation, which was joined in the audience by Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, representative of the Armenian Apostolic Church, and Bishop Barnaba El-Soryani of the Coptic Orthodox Church.
In his address, the Holy Father mentioned the visit of the Mother of God to Elizabeth, recalling that "every visit brings a sharing of gifts". Indeed, "Like Mary and Elizabeth, the Churches carry with them a variety of gifts of the Spirit, to be shared for their mutual joy and benefit". Thus, the visit of the delegation is "also a chance for us Catholics to receive the gift of the Spirit that you bring". In particular, the Holy Father gave thanks "for your saying 'yes' to your priesthood and your monastic life, and for the witness given by your Oriental Orthodox Churches. For yours are Churches that have sealed their faith in Christ in blood". Trusting that the members of the delegation had felt "not so much as guests, but as brothers", Pope Francis expressed the hope that their presence "may become a small but fruitful seed that will bear fruit in visible communion between us, in that full unity that Jesus ardently desires (cf. Jn 17:21)". The audience concluded with the prayer of the Our Father.
A study visit of young Catholic priests is planned for September 2020 in Armenia, upon the invitation of the Armenian Apostolic Church (Holy See of Etchmiadzin) in collaboration with the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.