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10-24 OCTOBER 2010

The Catholic Church in the Middle East:
Communion and Witness.
"Now the company of those who believed
were of one heart and soul" (Acts 4:32)

This Bulletin is only a working instrument for the press.
Translations are not official.

English Edition


05 - 11.10.2010





At the opening of the First General Congregation this morning, Monday 11 October 2010, after the brief reading of the Hour of Terce, the Holy Father Benedict XVI gave the following reflection:

Dear brothers and sisters,

On October 11 1962, 48 years ago, Pope John XXIII inaugurated Vatican Council II. At the time, on October 11, the feast day of the Divine Motherhood of Mary was celebrated and, with this gesture, with this date, Pope John wished to entrust the whole Council into the motherly hands and maternal heart of the Madonna. We too begin on October 11th, we too wish to entrust this Synod, with all its problems, with all its challenges, with all its hopes, to the maternal heart of the Madonna, the Mother of God.
Pius XI, in 1930, introduced this feast day, 1600 years after the Council of Ephesus, which had legitimated, for Mary, the title of Theotokos, Dei Genitrix. With this great word Dei Genitrix, Theotokos, the Council of Ephesus had summarized the entire doctrine of Christ, of Mary, the whole of the doctrine of redemption. So it would be worthwhile to reflect briefly, for a moment, on what was said during the Council of Ephesus, on what this day means.
In reality, Theotokos is a courageous title. A woman is the Mother of God. One could say: how is this possible? God is eternal, he is the Creator. We are creatures, we are in time: how could a human being be the Mother of God, of the Eternal, since we are all in time, we are all creatures? Therefore one can understand that there was some strong opposition, in part, to this term. The Nestorians used to say: one can speak about Christotokos, yes, but Theotokos no: Theos, God, is beyond, beyond the events of history. But the Council decided this, and thus it enlightened the adventure of God, the greatness of what he has done for us. God did not remain in Himself: he went out, He united in such a way, so radically to this man, Jesus, that this man Jesus is God, and if we speak about Him, we can also speak about God. Not only was a man born that had something to do with God, but in Him was born God on earth. God came from himself. But we could also say the opposite: God drew us to Himself, so that we are not outside of God, but we are within the intimate, the intimacy of God Himself.
Aristotelian philosophy, as we well know, tells us that between God and man there is only an unreciprocated relationship. Man refers to God, but God, the Eternal, is in Himself, He does not change: He cannot have this relation today and another relationship tomorrow. He is within Himself, He does not have ad extra relations. It is a very logical term, but it is also a word that makes us despair: so God has no relationship with me. With the incarnation, with the event of the Theotokos, this has been radically changed, because God drew us into Himself and God in Himself is the relationship and allows us to participate in His interior relationship. Thus we are in His being Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we are within His being in relationship, we are in relationship with Him and He truly created the relationship with us. At that moment, God wished to be born from woman and remain Himself: this is the great event. And thus we can understand the depth of the act by Pope John, who entrusted the Council, Synodal Assembly to the central mystery, to the Mother of God who is drawn by the Lord into Himself, and thus all of us with Her.
The Council began with the icon of the Theotokos. At the end, Pope Paul VI recognized the same title of Mater Ecclesiae to the Madonna. And these two icons, which begin and end the Council, are intrinsically linked, and are, in the end, one single icon. Because Christ was not born like any other individual. He was born to create a body for Himself: He was born - as John says in Chapter 12 of his Gospel - to attract all to Him and in Him. He was born - as it says in the Letters to the Colossians and to the Ephesians - to summarize the whole world, He was born as the firstborn of many brothers, He was born to unite the cosmos in Him, so that He is the Head of a great Body. Where Christ is born, the movement of summation begins, the moment of the calling begins, of construction of his Body, of the Holy Church. The Mother of Theos, the Mother of God, is the Mother of the Church, because she is the Mother of He who came to unite all in His resurrected Body.
Saint Luke leads us to understand this in the parallel between the first chapter of his book and the first chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, which repeat the same mystery on two different levels. In the first chapter of the Gospel the Holy Spirit comes upon Mary and thus she gives birth to and gives us the Son of God. In the first chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, Mary is at the center of Jesus’ disciples who are praying all together, pleading with the cloud of the Holy Spirit. And thus from the believing Church, with Mary at its heart, is born the Church, the Body of Christ. This dual birth is the only birth of the Christus totus, of the Christ who embraces the world and all of us.
Birth in Bethlehem, birth at the Last Supper. Birth of the Infant Jesus, birth of the Body of Christ, of the Church. These are two events or just one event. But between the two lie truly the Cross and the Resurrection. And only through the Cross comes the path towards the totality of Christ, towards His resurrected Body, towards the universalization of His being in the unity of the Church. And thus, bearing in mind that only from the wheat fallen to earth can a great harvest be reaped, from the Lord pierced on the Cross comes the universality of His disciples reunited in this His Body, dead and risen.
Keeping this connection between Theotokos and Mater ecclesiae in mind, we turn our attention to the last book of the Holy Scripture, Revelation, where, in chapter 12, we can find this synthesis. The woman clothed with thesun, with twelve stars over her head and the moon at her feet, gives birth. And gives birth with a cry of pain, gives birth with great suffering. Here the Marian mystery is the mystery of Bethlehem extended to the cosmic mystery. Christ is always reborn in all generations and thus takes on, gathers humanity within Himself. And this cosmic birth is achieved in the cry of the Cross, in the suffering of the Passion. And the blood of martyrs belongs to this cry of the Cross.
So, at this moment, we can look at the second psalm of this Hour, Psalm 81, where we can see part of this process. God is among gods - they are still considered as gods in Israel. In this Psalm, in a great concentration, in a prophetic vision, we can see the power taken from the gods. Those who seemed to be gods are not gods and lose their divine characteristics, and fall to earth. Dii estis et moriemini sicut homines (cf. Psa 81:6-7): the wresting of power, the fall of the divinities.
This process that is achieved along the path of faith of Israel, and which here is summarized in one vision, is the true process of the history of religion: the fall of the gods. And thus the transformation of the world, the knowledge of the true God, the loss of power by the forces that dominate the world, is a process of suffering. In the history of Israel we can see how this liberation from polytheism, this recognition - “Only He is God” - is achieved with great pain, beginning with the path of Abraham, the exile, the Maccabeans, up to Christ. And this process of loss of power continues throughout history, spoken of in Revelation chapter 12; it mentions the fall of the angels, which are not truly angels, they are not divinities on earth. And is achieved truly, right at the time of the rising Church, where we can see how the blood of the martyrs takes the power away from the divinities, starting with the divine emperor, from all these divinities. It is the blood of the martyrs, the suffering, the cry of the Mother Church that makes them fall and thus transforms the world.
This fall is not only the knowledge that they are not God; it is the process of transformation of the world, which costs blood, costs the suffering of the witnesses of Christ. And, if we look closely, we can see that this process never ends. It is achieved in various periods of history in ever new ways; even today, at this moment, in which Christ, the only Son of God, must be born for the world with the fall of the gods, with pain, the martyrdom of witnesses. Let us remember all the great powers of today’s history, let us remember the anonymous capital that enslaves man, which is no longer in man’s possession, but is an anonymous power served by men, by which men are tormented and even killed. It is a destructive power, that threatens the world. And then the power of the terroristic ideologies. Violent acts are apparently made in the name of God, but this is not God: they are false divinities that must be unmasked; they are not God. And then drugs, this power that, like a voracious beast, extends its claws to all parts of the world and destroys it: it is a divinity, but it is a false divinity that must fall. Or even the way of living proclaimed by public opinion: today we must do things like this, marriage no longer counts, chastity is no longer a virtue, and so on.
These ideologies that dominate, that impose themselves forcefully, are divinities. And in the pain of the Saints, in the suffering of believers, of the Mother Church which we are a part of, these divinities must fall, what is said in the Letters to the Colossians and to the Ephesians must be done: the dominations, the powers fall and become subjects of the one Lord Jesus Christ. On this battle we find ourselves in, of this taking power away from God, of this fall of false gods, that fall because they are not deities, but powers that can destroy the world, chapter 12 of Revelations mentions these, even if with a mysterious image, for which, I believe, there are many different and beautiful interpretations. It has been said that the dragon places a large river of water before the fleeing woman to overcome her. And it would seem inevitable that the woman will drown in this river. But the good earth absorbs this river and it cannot be harmful. I think that the river is easily interpreted: these are the currents that dominate all and wish to make faith in the Church disappear, the Church that does not have a place anymore in front of the force of these currents that impose themselves as the only rationality, as the only way to live. And the earth that absorbs these currents is the faith of the simple at heart, that does not allow itself to be overcome by these rivers and saves the Mother and saves the Son. This is why the Psalm says - the first psalm of the Hour - the faith of the simple at heart is the true wisdom (cf Psa. 118:130). This true wisdom of simple faith, that does not allow itself to be swamped by the waters, is the force of the Church. And we have returned to the Marian mystery.
And there is also a final word in Psalm 81, “movebuntur omnia fundamenta terrae” (Psa 81:5), the foundations of earth are shaken. We see this today, with the climatic problems, how the foundations of the earth are shaken, how they are threatened by our behavior. The external foundations are shaken because the internal foundations are shaken, the moral and religious foundations, the faith that follows the right way of living. And we know that faith is the foundation, and, undoubtedly, the foundations of the earth cannot be shaken if they remain close to the faith, to true wisdom.
And then the Psalm says: “Arise, God, judge the world” (Psa 81:8). Thus we also say to the Lord: “Arise at this moment, take the world in your hands, protect your Church, protect humanity, protect the earth”. And we once again entrust ourselves to the Mother of God, to Mary, and pray: “You, the great believer, you who have opened the earth to the heavens, help us, open the doors today as well, that truth might win, the will of God, which is the true good, the true salvation of the world”. Amen

[00013-02.04] [NNNNN] [Original text: Italian]

At this General Congregation 170 Fathers were present.



At 4:30 p.m. today, with the recital of the Adsumus, the Second General Congregation took place, for the reading of the Reports on the Continents and to begin the interventions by the Synodal Fathers in the Hall on the Synodal theme The Catholic Church in the Middle East: Communion and Witness. "Now the company of those who believed were of one heart and soul" (Acts 4:32).

The Acting President Delegate was H. Em. Card. Leonardo SANDRI, Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches (VATICAN CITY).

Following the interventions on the theme of the Synod, there was a period for free discussion by the Synodal Fathers, in the presence of the Holy Father.

At this General Congregation, which ended at 8:55 p.m. with the prayer Angelus Domini, 163 Fathers were present.


For Africa: H. Em. Card. Polycarp PENGO, Archbishop of Dar-es-Salaam, President of the "Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar" (S.E.C.A.M.) (TANZANIA)
For North America: H. Em. Card. Roger Michael MAHONY, Archbishop of Los Angeles (UNITED STATES OF AMERICA)
For Asia: H. Exc. Mons. Orlando B. QUEVEDO, O.M.I., Archbishop of Cotabato, Secretary General of the "Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences" (F.A.B.C.) (PHILIPPINES)
For Europe: H. Em. Card. Péter ERDŐ, Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, President of the Episcopal Conference, President of the "Consilium Conferentiarum Episcoporum Europae" (C.C.E.E.) (HUNGARY)
For Oceania: H. Exc. Mons. John Atcherley DEW, Archbishop of Wellington, President of the "Federation of Catholic Bishops' Conferences of Oceania" (F.C.B.C.O.) (NEW ZELAND)
For Latin America: H. Exc. Mons. Raymundo DAMASCENO ASSIS, Archbishop of Aparecida, President of Latin American Episcopal Council (C.E.L.AM.) (BRAZIL)

The Interventions on the Continents are published below:

For Africa: H. Em. Card. Polycarp PENGO, Archbishop of Dar-es-Salaam, President of the "Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar" (S.E.C.A.M.) (TANZANIA)

I am speaking here in the name of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) of which I am the current president.The Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar has an intrinsic link with the Church in the Middle East specifically through the Church in Egypt which is part of both Africa and the Middle East.
Egypt, not withstanding the cultural and linguistic differences with sub-Saharan Africa is by geographical necessity part of the Church in Africa (SECAM) as much as it is part of the Church in the Middle East through linguistic and cultural factors. The two component factors of the belongingness of the Church in Egypt are certainly not incompatible. On the contrary they can be positively exploited for the good of the Church both in Africa and in the Middle East.
On the one hand, Christians are migrating from the Middle East due to what may be considered oppressive conditions against the Christian Faith in some of the Middle East countries. On the other hand, many young African Christians are flocking every year from sub Saharan Africa to Northern Africa (including Egypt) for studies, employment or on transit to Europe and the Middle East. Many of those young people leave their countries as fervent Christian practitioners. When they come to Northern Africa, they find themselves in an atmosphere of Islamic predominance allowing for very limited freedom of practicing their Christian Faith.
This reminds me of the situation obtaining in Eastern Africa not so many years ago. Until some fifty years ago, Islam was so predominant on the East African coast of the Indian Ocean that it threatened the faith of the Christian youth coming from the interior areas of the continent in search of jobs in the sisal estates and government offices in the coastal areas.
What saved the situation in Eastern Africa was the close co-operation between the Christian missionaries in the interior and those on the coast. The young people going to the Coast took introductory letters from the missionaries at home to the missionaries on the coast who received these youths in established Christian settlements. There they could continue to practice their faith freely.
Today, no Christian on the coasts of Eastern Africa feels obliged to hide his Christian identity despite the fact that Islam continues to be the religion of the majority. Separate Christian settlements are no longer needed also.
With regard to the above described situation in Northern Africa and the Middle East, methods of action may need to be very different. Yet, closer co-operation between the sub-Saharan Church and the Church in North Africa and the Middle East remains and will always remain of paramount importance for the survival of Christianity on both sides. SECAM is an excellent tool for such co-operation.

[00018-02.02] [RC001] [Original text: English]

For North America: H. Em. Card. Roger Michael MAHONY, Archbishop of Los Angeles (UNITED STATES OF AMERICA)

On behalf of the Bishops and the Catholics in North America, I am pleased to offer my greetings to all our brother Bishops and Catholics from the various Churches in the Middle East gathered for this historic Special Assembly. We are blessed in our countries to have very large numbers of your members living in our midst and in solidarity with the Catholic Church in the United States.
My focus here will be on the question of how Christians from the Middle East in the diaspora are living the mystery of communio among themselves and other Christians. I will then turn my attention to the specific witness that Christians from the Middle East are challenged to give.
Although my remarks have broad application across North America, I will give examples from my experience in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles since all of the Eastern Catholic Churches are represented in our Archdiocese.

Witness to Communio

While acknowledging their union with Rome, interecclesial relations should be encouraged, not only among the sui iuris Churches in the Middle East but especially in the diaspora (para 55). Recognizing the haemorrhaging of Christians from the Middle East to Europe, Australia, and the Americas, we have sought various ways to transform emigration into a new opportunity for support for these Christians as they become established throughout the diaspora (para 47-48). We try to support these Eastern Catholic Churches sui iuris by welcoming them and by assisting them in the establishment of parishes and schools, cultural institutions and organizations to serve the needs of their people as they settle in the West.
We have welcomed Assyrian-Chaldean, Coptic, Greek Melkite, Maronite, and Syriac Catholics, and the Archdiocese has assisted several of them over the years with financial loans and other means to help these peoples make a home in Los Angeles. In my twenty-five years as Archbishop, I have visited each of these communities, encouraging them "to be themselves" while living within the geographic area of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Among other resources, we have the Eastern Catholic Pastoral Association, which provides clergy from these and other Eastern Catholic Churches to gather bimonthly for prayer and mutual support in an effort to coordinate pastoral activities in a spirit of mutual edification rather than rivalry (para 55).
is at the heart of the divine life: diversity in unity; unity in diversity. Unity in diversity; diversity in unity, lies at the heart of the communio which is the Church. In the United States, deep respect for diversity poses unique challenges. "The faithful of the various Churches sui iuris often frequent a Catholic Church different from their own" [i.e., a Roman Catholic Church]. "Such people are asked to maintain their attachment to their own community, i.e., the one in which they were baptized" (para 56).
But many Eastern Catholics coming from the Middle East do not do this and simply become Roman Catholic. Two practical examples of the tension between diversity and unity will suffice. When it comes to the question of enrolling their children in Roman Catholic elementary schools, where there is a reduction in tuition for children of those who are active "parishioners", how do Christians of the Eastern Churches maintain their attachment to the Church in which they were baptized? How might Roman Catholic pastors, administrators and heads of schools be educated and encouraged to assist these immigrants in retaining their connection with their own community by not placing additional burdens on them such as having to choose between joining a Roman Catholic parish for the benefit of a tuition reduction, or retaining their membership in a parish of their own Eastern Church?
A second example might highlight the tension: many Eastern Churches admit infants to the Eucharist beginning with Baptism. When parishioners of these Churches attend Roman Catholic Masses their young children, who are accustomed to receive the Eucharist, are often prohibited from doing so.
Greater sensitivity to very practical matters such as these would ease the plight of the Eastern Catholic immigrants from the Middle East. Do our seminary courses give sufficient attention to the practical challenges that priests and pastors will face if they are to help this diaspora live the mystery of communio in a way that respects the legitimate diversity of peoples of these Churches?
Throughout North America there are many Catholic institutes of higher learning. The preparation of catechists, the provision of spiritual and liturgical formation, and theological training in these Catholic Colleges is almost exclusively Roman in orientation. Where do Eastern Catholic immigrants fit in at these Catholic educational institutes which are keen to offer courses and seminars on other religions, be it Judaism, Islam, Buddhism or Hinduism, but little if any attention is given to the theology, liturgy or spirituality of the Eastern Churches? Especially in areas with a high concentration of such immigrants, how might we assist these institutes of higher learning, as well·as our seminaries, to recognize the need for such courses so that members of this diaspora might "acquire a sufficient knowledge of theology and spirituality proper to the Church to which they belong" (para 64)?

Witness to Forgiveness

A particularly challenging area in assisting the peoples of the Eastern Churches to live the fullness of the Gospel is addressed in Lineamenta 90f, “The Desire and Difficulty of Dialogue with Judaism” and 95f, “Relations with Muslims”. Many of these initiatives have already been taken up in our country and in our Archdiocese where we have a strong ecumenical, interfaith and interreligious legacy. Regrettably, such initiatives take place without much participation on the part of immigrant Christians from the Middle East. In fact, they are often critical of our efforts in these arenas, especially in the matter of forgiveness (para 68,69, 113).
Often Middle Eastern Christians come to north America with attitudes and opinions toward both Muslims and Jews that are not in keeping with the Gospel or with the strides we have made in the Church's relations with other religions. Because we in Los Angeles live "up close" with peoples of many different faiths, how can we assist the people of this particular diaspora to correct these erroneous beliefs which might then influence their homelands through Christians living in the West? Although they may not want to hear it, Christians living in the Middle East and emigrating to the West need to be challenged to be a sign of reconciliation and peace. The sine qua non of both is forgiveness.
I have found that the biggest challenge we face with our immigrant peoples - whether they be Middle Eastern Catholics or Vietnamese Catholics who have fled their country for Southern California, or Cubans who have fled Cuba for the Miami shores - is not one of assisting them in living the mystery of communio between and among various Christians and Christian Churches. The biggest challenge is to help them respond to the grace of giving witness to the Gospel by forgiving those enemies who quite often are the principal reason for their leaving their homeland to find peace and justice on our shores. We would do well to be mindful of our late Holy Father, Pope John Paul II. After giving his message for World Day of Peace 2002 to the world's diplomats, he summed it all up in the challenging phrase: "No peace without justice, no justice without forgiveness."

[00022-02.02] [RC005] [Original text: English]

For Asia: H. Exc. Mons. Orlando B. QUEVEDO, O.M.I., Archbishop of Cotabato, Secretary General of the "Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences" (F.A.B.C.) (PHILIPPINES)

On behalf of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences, I express our deep gratitude to you for inviting me to represent the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conference (FABC) and participate in this important Synod. Likewise on their behalf may I express our communion and solidarity with all the Synod Fathers gathered here today, most especially with our brother Bishops in the Middle East.

Our theme is Communion and Witness. It is a theme very close to the heart of the Church in Asia. No.55 of the Instrumentum Laboris expresses a significant desideratum: to foster unity in diversity, to encourage communities to cooperate among themselves, " ... some responses suggest periodically calling (perhaps every five years) an assembly of the entire episcopate of the Middle East."
May I share with you the experience of Asian Bishops. Meeting every four years since 1974 the Bishops in the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences have had a very positive experience in promoting communion. Consider that the FABC has 25 regular and associate members, including two ancient Eastern rites - Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara, in 28 countries and territories. It covers that vast region of Asia bounded by Kazakhstan in the West, Mongolia in the North, Japan in the East, Pakistan and India in the South, Indonesia and East Timor in the Southeast. Despite diverse social, economic, political, cultural, and religious situations, Asian Bishops have gained a certain degree of communion, fellowship, solidarity, cooperation. This is so because of a common vision of mission and pastoral priority.
In 1970 Asian Bishops gathered in Manila were inspired by the message of Pope Paul VI who had spoken about pastoral challenges in Asia. In 1974 they met for their first Plenary Assembly as a Federation approved by the Holy See. They drew up the following common vision of the mission to proclaim Jesus as the Lord and Savior. They stated:
Evangelization is the carrying out of the Church's duty of proclaiming by word and witness the Gospel of the Lord. In Asia this task is carried out:
The insertion of the Gospel into the cultures
renders the local Churches truly present within the life and cultures of our peoples;
Through the insertion of the Gospel into the religious traditions, the Asian religions are brought into living dialogue with the Gospe1, so that the seeds of the Word in them may come to full flower and fruitfulness within the life of our peoples;
Finally, through the preaching of the good news to the poor (Lk 4: 18), Christ's renewing life and the power of His pascha1 mystery is inserted into our people's search for human development, for justice, brotherhood and peace (FABC I, 1974, nos. 25-28).
They also drew up a common pastoral priority which is the building of the local church.
The local church is a church incarnate in a people, a church indigenous and inculturated. And this means concretely a church in continuous, humble, and loving dialogue with the living traditions, the cultures, the religions - in brief with all the life realities of the people in whose midst it has sunk its roots deeply and whose history and life it gladly makes its own.
For the Asian Bishops such a vision of a local church and mission is best reflected in the building of Basic Ecclesial Communities, by which a parish or a diocese becomes a "communion of communities."
Supported by the various pastoral offices of the FABC, Asian Bishops strive together towards this vision of mission and pastoral priority. Through their leadership the Church in Asia continues to undergo waves of conversion or renewal, towards a renewed evangelization and discipleship of life, a Church renewed in the Word and Bread of God. Yesterday during his homily the Holy Father reminded us that “communion is a gift of the Lord”, communion ultimately in the life of God. That requires our response of profound renewal or conversion.
The Holy Father also reminded us: “Without Communion there is no witness; the life of communion is truly the great witness.” How imperative these words are for the whole Church in Asia, including the Middle East.
We are a "little flock" in Asia, less than 3% of the more than three billion Asians. In the light of rising religious suspicions and extremism sometimes erupting in violence and death, we can surely be afraid or timid. But we are fortified and encouraged by the words of the Lord, "Fear not, little flock." Confidently then we need to make our communion a reality and a witness of the Lord. For in many places in Asia where there is no freedom of religion the only way to proclaim the Lord is to witness to Him by a silent but truly faithful Christian life, a life of love for God and service to our neighbour (see Pope John Paul II, Ecclesia in Asia, no. 23).
That witness urges us as bishops in communion with the Holy Father and with one another to address seriously the great pastoral challenges before us in Asia, such as the phenomenon of migration which is sometimes called the new slavery, the negative impact of economic and cultural globalization, the issue of climate change, issues or religious extremism, injustice and violence; religious freedom, and biogenetic issues that threaten human life in the womb and from conception to natural death.
In our dialogue as an expression of communion in the household of God, we pray that we could draw up a common pastoral approach to these problems as a form of witness to the faith we have in the Lord Jesus.

[00019-02.04] [RC002] [Original text: English]

For Europe: H. Em. Card. Péter ERDŐ, Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, President of the Episcopal Conference, President of the "Consilium Conferentiarum Episcoporum Europae" (C.C.E.E.) (HUNGARY)

In the name of the European bishops represented by the Presidents of all the Episcopal Conferences of the continent, gathered ten days ago in Zagreb at the 40th plenary session of the Council of European Episcopal Conferences, I express my most heartfelt and cordial greetings to the prelates present here and to all the Catholics of the Middle East.
Seen from Europe, the Holy Land and the Middle East are found to the east. It is from there that the light of Christ came, that light that remains forever the true Invincible Sun that will never set. The face of Jesus shines like the sun (Mt 17:2) and illuminates the whole history of humanity. But the chosen disciples saw this splendor on the mount of the Transfiguration as the drama of the Passion and Resurrection of the Lord were already being prepared.
Europe is in debt to the Middle East. Not only do a multitude of the fundamental elements of our culture come from that region, but the first missionaries to our continent came from there too. We gratefully conserve the memory of the event described in the Acts of the Apostles: “One night Paul had a vision: a Macedonian appeared and kept urging him in these words, 'Come across to Macedonia and help us.' Once he had seen this vision we lost no time in arranging a passage to Macedonia, convinced that God had called us to bring them the good news” (Acts 16:9-10). It was a providential decision by the Holy Father Benedict XVI to dedicate an entire year to Saint Paul, the Apostle to the Nations, whose fervor and wisdom are extremely relevant for the new evangelization.
Speaking of this, I have to recall our European episcopal pilgrimage to Tarsus, the city of St Paul, but I have to also repeat the expression of sorrow and solidarity of the Europan bishops that we offered on the occasion of the violent death of His Excellency Mons. Luigi Padovese, President of the Bishops’ Conference of Turkey.
When we consider the Middle East, we Europeans have to examine our consciences. Is the Gospel message still alive among us, that good news that we received from the Apostles? Or is that light and enthusiasm that stems from faith in Christ absent now from our lives?
In our times, when Christian refugees and emigrants arrive in Europe from various Middle Eastern countries, what is our reaction? Do we pay enough attention to the reasons that force thousands if not millions of Christians to leave the land where their ancestors lived for almost two thousand years? Is it also true that our behavior is responsible for what is happening? We are truly facing a great challenge. We have to examine the nature and effects of the changes in Europe and in the Western world. Do we know how to effectively express our support to the Christians of the Middle East? Are the principle factors in public life in Europe still sensitive to the illuminated human values that come from Christianity? Or are they largely indifferent to and distrustful of that precious inheritance of ours? An inheritance without which Europe would not even exist in a cultural sense.
The Christians who come from the Middle East knock on the doors of our hearts and re-awaken our Christian conscience.
How do we welcome these brothers and sisters, what can we do to ensure that their ancient inheritance - which is also ecclesiastical- is conserved for the future?
The theme of this synod is The Catholic Church in the Middle East: communion and witness. In the Acts of the Apostles we read that the multitude of the believers was “of one heart and soul”
(Acts 4:32). Such a communion still exists in the Church today; rather, the communion of the saints is an article of our Creed. Such an essential communion has to be - like the Church itself - both visible and invisible at the same time, it has to move in the world of grace but also in society. The Catholics of Europe pray, work, struggle and fight to be present and effective in visible society as well. Despite all the sadness, all the disappointments, all the negative experiences and sometimes the discrimination or pressures that strike Christians who try to follow their conscience, we never give up hoping that our Europe too will be able to find again its identity that is profoundly rooted in the culture of life, hope and love. The more we are aware of our Christian vocation in society, the more we will also be capable of displaying and radiating the force of the Gospel which is powerful and capable of transforming human society in our century as well. Faithful to the teaching of Vatican Council II demonstrated in a special way in the Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes, we have to follow the invitation of the Church: “Those who are suited or can become suited should prepare themselves for the difficult, but at the same time, the very noble art of politics,and should seek to practice this art without regard for their own interests or for material advantages. With integrity and wisdom, they must take action against any form of injustice and tyranny, against arbitrary domination by an individual or a political party and any intolerance. They should dedicate themselves to the service of all with sincerity and fairness, indeed, with the charity and fortitude demanded by political life.” (GS 75f)
“Physician, heal thyself” (Lk 4:23) - writes St Luke, the “dear doctor” (Col 4:14). We therefore have to heal ourselves - we, the Christians of Europe - with the help of the Holy Spirit so that we can reflect the light of Christ, received from the East, and pass on the gift obtained through our courageous witness.
In this sense I ask for God’s blessing on this Synod and on all the Christians of the Middle East: Stella Orientis, pray for us!

[00020-02.04] [RC003] [Original text: Italian]

For Oceania: H. Exc. Mons. John Atcherley DEW, Archbishop of Wellington, President of the "Federation of Catholic Bishops' Conferences of Oceania" (F.C.B.C.O.) (NEW ZELAND)

Geographically, Oceania could not be further from the Middle East, and yet the links between our two regions are strong.
I represent the Federation of Catholic Bishops of Oceania: Australia (32 dioceses) Papua New Guinea (22), New Zealand (6) the Episcopal Conference of the Pacific consisting of 17 dioceses and ecclesiastical territories. In total a diverse and scattered community of about 6 million Catholics, small “islands of humanity” (Radcliffe) in the vastness of the Pacific Ocean that covers one-third of the world' s surface.
In November 1998, all the Bishops of Oceania assembled here for the Synod for Oceania. We were challenged to "Walk the way of Jesus Christ, to tell his truth and to live his life." It is a communio of faith and charity that links us with the Churches of the Middle East, we have come to appreciate the rich diversity members of these Churches bring to Oceania. We recognize their vulnerability in living as minor Churches, and we "are eager to appreciate, understand and promote the traditions, liturgy, discipline and theology of the Eastern Churches." (EIO 12)
Out of Australia's five million Catholics there are a small, but significant number of Catholics who belong to the Eastern Catholic Churches. The two largest Eastern Catholic Churches in Australia are the Maronite and Melkite, each of which is an established diocese (eparchy), with a bishop (eparch) who is a member of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and who from time to time come to the New Zealand Conference meeting. As well as these Eastern Catholic Churches, there are also Chaldean, Syrian, Syro-Malabar and Coptic Catholic Churches.
The Maronite, Melkite and Chaldean Eparchies extend into New Zealand, offering pastoral and liturgical services to their communities there too.
The wider Middle East is present in Oceania through migrants and refugees who have made their home in the region: European Jews from earliest days of Australia and New Zealand settlement, as well as refugees from Germany in the 1930s, and survivors of the Shoah; Lebanese, Palestinians, Egyptians; Iraqi, both Christian and Muslim; and in more recent years, Kurdish refugees from Iraq, Iran and Turkey.
Our historical links are strongly marked by war and peace .
Australian and New Zealand troops (ANZACS) trained in Egypt during the early years of the Great War (1914 - 1918); sadly the next generation was back in Egyptian desert again in the early 1940s of the Second World War.
Fijian peace keeping forces have served with the United Nations in both Lebanon and Sinai.
These links are cemented today through the presence of many pilgrims from Oceania who visit the Holy Land; through refugee resettlement; aid development programmes of Caritas Internationalis; the presence of international religious orders who are dedicated to educational work, or the support of the Holy Places.
Response to the Instrumentum Laboris:
There are two themes of the Instrumentum Laboris I would like to respond to from the experiences of Oceania.
1.Communion and Witness;
The Instrumentum Laboris has brought to our attention in a new way the challenges facing the Christians in the Middle East: the complex political conflicts, questions of freedom of religion and conscience, living in daily contact as a minority in majority Islamic or Jewish communities, and the constant movement of peoples through emigration and immigration. We are far away, but aware that we are linked to all Christians in the Middle East through a common baptism, ecclesial tradition, faith in Jesus Christ and commitment to his mission. We would like our Christian brothers and sisters in the Middle East to know that we value this communion, that we commit ourselves to stand in solidarity as they suffer, and will support them in prayer and practical assistance in the challenges they face daily.
2. A commitment to interfaith relations:
The Churches in Oceania are novices in this field, we have much to learn from the sustained commitment of the churches of the Middle East to the dialogue of Abrahamic faiths. We recognize the complexity of the historical and cultural context in which this dialogue is carried out with the signs of hope in the peace process, as well as the setbacks of misunderstanding, persecution and betrayal.
The Introduction to the Instrumentum Laboris speaks of the need for Christians to get know their Jewish and Muslim neighbours well if they are to collaborate with them in the fields of religion, social interaction and culture for the good of society.

[00021-02.04] [RC004] [Original text: English]

For Latin America: H. Exc. Mons. Raymundo DAMASCENO ASSIS, Archbishop of Aparecida, President of Latin American Episcopal Council (C.E.L.AM.) (BRAZIL)

In the first place, I would like to thank the Holy Father Benedict XVI for my nomination as a participant, in my role as President of the Latin American and Caribbean Episcopal Conference, at this Synod of the Churches which makes their pilgrim way in the Middle Eastern countries. Thank you so much, Holy Father, for this nomination which honors and pleases me and which is a sign of the deference of Your Holiness for the Church of Latin America.
The fellow Churches of the Middle East are the cradle of the Church of Jesus Christ and the first place of its expansion and, even more, the privileged place for the manifestation of the “fullness of time” in the person of the Lord Jesus.
In participating in this Synod for the Middle East I would like to gratefully recognize the immense wealth that we have all received from you. In the first place, the sacred books of the Bible that nourish our encounter with the Lord and illuminate us on each decision that we must make for our personal and ecclesial life. Also, the living Tradition and the Councils, which, in their dynamic reception, allow our Churches with their unique and varied wealth, to make our people share the life of Jesus Christ. Furthermore we must not forget the rich Pneumatology of the Eastern Churches.
Your fundamental multi-culturalism is a sign of the first ecclesial expansion. In time it has undergone many adjustments and numerical and socio-political imbalances and has undergone many corrections. Today as well, in our globalized world, marked by many tensions, there is something that we live each day and about which we can learn a great deal from the history and the difficulties present in these Churches.
The theme of the secularism of the governments that lead our people in many cases has become discriminatory because of ideological intransigence as well as, for many of us, a thematic imposition, an “Islamization” of the public. This is a challenge that we share with you, which requires us to fight for a true religious freedom in the public sphere. We must keep this in mind even in catechesis with the aim of forming Christians and citizens who are conscious of their rights and duties. The Holy Father Benedict XVI, in his visit to France (2008), took up the precious concept of a “positive laity”.
This situation gives rise to a challenge in which we have acquired a new consciousness. This being the formation of the laity in our Churches. During our last general Conference for Latin America and the Caribbean (in 2007), which took place in Aparecido in Brazil, it was emphasized that this formation must begin with a deep personal encounter with Jesus Christ, that marks and lasts as a constant experience in each person’s life and with a proper formation in the rock created by the Word of God faced with the new cultural situation we are living today. This must allow the presence of the laity in the new aeropagi and in the tasks of public service.
In mentioning the lay disciples, we cannot avoid mentioning the huge importance of the family for the formation of human and Christian values. All families, today, are suffering from a generalized fracture caused by the speed with which everything changes today. Therefore it must not inhibit its educational strength. Under certain aspects of the family, we may coincide with Muslim faithful and we have seen this during the ballots of international organizations. However there are other aspects of the concrete concept of family that are further from the Muslim concept, for example concerning the role of the woman in the family and in society.
To form the laity for today does not dispense, rather it requires even the formation of priests that realize the deep need for a great “personal and pastoral conversion” to make their parishes and apostolates places and ministries of missionary animation like the first Christian communities. It is necessary to go through a pastoral of conservation to a pastoral enlivened by the missionary spirit. In the General Conference of Aparecido, the Holy Father asserted that being “disciples and missionaries of Jesus Christ” are two sides of the same coin. There is no disciple if there is no missionary, and there are no missionaries if one is not a disciple.
This necessary “conversion” will also have important consequences in the vocation pastoral. The youth of today wishes to give themselves generously to the God of Life, but holds back when perceiving only efforts in self-preservation and does not discover the transforming novelty of the Gospel in our present history. The vocational pastoral must help young persons discover Jesus as a “path, Truth and Life” and show them the different roads to follow Jesus, underlining the vocation to priesthood and to consecrated life.
In our Latin American and Caribbean countries, we have many Eastern immigrants - first and second generation - the majority being Christians. Many have become part of the Latin Church and there are small groups with their own heptarchies. We would like them to grow more in the conscience of our common Catholic faith and come closer in a shared missionary action. At this time, we are developing in all our Churches what is called the “Continental Mission”, the fruit of the General Conference of Aparecido. It would be a splendid witness to be able to join this evangelizing effort.
Finally, we would like to share with you the concerns about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Even in this we are in communion with the Holy Father in his effort to find a solution to the conflict. May peace be re-established between these two people in the land of Jesus!
We ask the Lord Jesus, through the intercession of the Most Holy Mary, Queen of the Apostles, to breathe His Spirit which renews all things over this Synodal Assembly.

[00040-02.02] [RC006] [Original text: Spanish]


Then the following Fathers intervened:

- H. Exc. Mons. Elias CHACOUR, Archbishop of Akka, Acre, Ptolemaid of the Greek-Melkites (ISRAEL)
- H. Exc. Mons. Boutros MARAYATI, Archbishop of Alep of the Armenians (SYRIA)
- H. Exc. Mons. Kyrillos WILLIAM, Bishop of Assiut, Lycopolis of the Copts (ARAB REPUBLIC OF EGYPT)
- H. Exc. Mons. Botros FAHIM AWAD HANNA, Titular Bishop of Mareotes, Curia Bishop of Alexandria of the Copts (ARAB REPUBLIC OF EGYPT)
- H. Exc. Mons. Youhannes ZAKARIA, Bishop of Luxor, Thebes of the Copts (ARAB REPUBLIC OF EGYPT)

The summaries of the interventions are published below:

- H. Exc. Mons. Elias CHACOUR, Archbishop of Akka, Acre, Ptolemaid of the Greek-Melkites (ISRAEL)

They decided to survive and to continue their very special mission, following the orders of their Compatriot, the Man from Galilee, Jesus from Nazareth. My Compatriot, My Champion and my Parishioner.
Luke 24/45-49 Acts 1/4-5 and very specially Mark 16/15 “Fear not little flock go in to all the world and preach the good news to all creation”. Since then, my ancestors, started spreading around and everywhere the exciting news revolving around an empty tomb and a RISEN MAN. We never stopped preaching this exciting news. That is why Peter and Paul were sacrificed and killed here in Rome.
During the twenty past centuries our Christians from the Holy Land were like condemned and privileged to share oppression, persecution and suffering with Christ. He is risen but his cross is still high in our sky. Our Christianity is still hanging on that terrible cross. They still live under daily threats from officials who dream continuing the transfer of our minority, away from their lands, their homes, away from their ancestral homeland. If it was not for Him, the cross would have been damned and hated.
Centuries long are gone loaded with our sufferings and our persecutions.
But today our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI called the Catholic Church and all Christians of good will to divert their sight and to turn around, towards the remnant of the family of Christ. We come over here to invite you all to reconsider your priorities regarding the Holy Lands, and regarding its inhabitants. For sure the shrines and the Holy Places are. important. The Franciscan brothers have been keen and loyal custodians and protectors of the Holy Places.
Being the archbishop of the largest Catholic Church in the Holy Land, the Melkite Catholic Church, I insistently invite you and plead with the Holy Father to give even more attention to the Living stones of the Holy land. Once more, attention is given despite our unworthiness and undeservedly, we could restore the smile of hope on the faces of our children. We then can have the tools and the means to. We are in Galilee since immemorial times. Now we are in Israel. We want to stay where we are, we need your friendship more than your money.

[00024-02.06] [IN002] [Original text: English]

- H. Exc. Mons. Boutros MARAYATI, Archbishop of Alep of the Armenians (SYRIA)

The ecumenical movement is going through a real crisis, the best proof of this is the bad situations facing the Churches of the Middle Eastern Council today, which has been for years at the forefront of ecumenical work in our countries. We hope that today’s crisis will be a passing phase of the initial progress in the opening of a new page of ecumenical work, moving from the bureaucratic style, the development projects, and financial administration, towards encouraging a spirit of fraternity, dialogue and communion among the Churches.
The Instrumentum laboris in all its pages has an ecumenical aspect, because all of it concerns all the Churches of the Middle East, we would like to add that this special assembly will not retain its true Christian and Catholic dimensions, unless it is read in the light of our relations with the Churches and other Christian communities. It was said that: "Together we are or we are not at all".
1) I see something missing between paragraphs 14 and 15, would it not be important to mention that Damascus was the place of Saint Paul's conversion, from where he left to go to Arabia, and then to all other nations? We have commemorated the Pauline year , which was announced by his Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. In Antioch, the disciples of Christ were called Christians. To the north of Aleppo, monastic and religious life prospered, during the 4th century. From Simeon the Elder to Saint Maroun, the archeological sites still bear witness to this. This is an ecumenical fact that leads us back to our common Christian roots. We have to revive it, not only on the local level but also on the universal level, so that these roots may support our Christian presence throughout history.
2) In the 25th paragraph, the Intrumentum laboris, mentions " the situation in each Middle Eastern country varies”, not only is this a fact, it is also an undeniable fact. If we want this Special Assembly to be fruitful, we should think about a special conference for each country, having an ecumenical aspect, where we can discuss the issues according to the local situations. Without any doubt, the challenges are the same, but every country has its own situation.
3) The challenges mentioned in the Instrumentum laboris, especially the challenge of emigration (paragraphs 43 - 48), are a serious concern for us as well as for other Churches and local Christian communities. This is a real ecumenical concern. And here it is our obligation to ask: is there a plan to evacuate the Christians from the East? For the past 100 years, emigration or violent deportation have continued to occur from the East. In 1915, hundreds of thousands of Armenian Christians were deported violently, from their countries, and they faced the first genocide in the 20th century, by the Ottomans. Among those martyrs was the Bishop Ignatius Maloyan. The same thing occurred among the Chaldeans and the Syrians… Many Christians were sent from their villages and cities. These acts continued with the Palestinian events, the civil war in Lebanon, the Islamic Revolution in Iran, the invasion of Iraq… Christians are martyrized, forced to emigrate, forced to leave from all the Churches without distinction. Are we waiting for the day where the world as a spectator amidst the indifference of the Western Churches will sit back and watch the “Death of the Christians of the East”?
Despite the crises and difficulties that face our Christian life and our ecumenical relations, we still “believe, hoping against every hope” (cf. Rom 4:18).

[00025-02.02] [IN003] [Original text: Arabic]

- H. Exc. Mons. Kyrillos WILLIAM, Bishop of Assiut, Lycopolis of the Copts (ARAB REPUBLIC OF EGYPT)

The liturgy, according to the Instrumentum Laboris, is a deeply rooted feature of Eastern culture, thus one cannot lessen its strength in order to preserve the intensity of the faith today. History asserts that in our Middle Eastern countries, the liturgy has always been a school for education in the faith and Christian morality, especially when one considers our population, simple and for the most part illiterate, thanks to numerous biblical readings (six daily readings in our Coptic liturgy, even more on feast days and on certain celebrations) and to prayers composed of juxtaposed biblical quotations.
For this reason we must maintain it with reverence according to the text of Eastern canons law (cfr canon 39 of CCEO).
In the Constitution, Sacrosanctum Concilium, paragraph four, Vatican II affirms the equality of all rites with regard to rights and dignity. In the conciliar decree Orientalium Ecclesiarum, the Council fathers affirm a special regard for the patrimony of Eastern churches, and emphasize their kind deeds towards the Universal Church, quoting Leo XIII’s apostolic letter of November 30, 1894, “Orientalium Ecclesiarum”.
The Conciliar Decree on Eastern Catholic Churches likewise urges all Westerners who are in contact with these Churches, to apply themselves in learning and respecting Eastern liturgies... and it refers to the Motu Proprio “Orientis Catholici” of Benedict XV of October 15, 1917 and Pius XI’s Encyclical of September 8, 1926, “Rerum Orientalium”.
Canon 41 of the CCEO confirms this and requires them to know these liturgies precisely and to practice them.
Now, we can see that quite a few Latin religious persons translate the Latin liturgy into Arabic and they celebrate it for our Eastern faithful helping them thus to separate from their churches and to weaken their belonging to them.
With regards to the liturgical language (Instrumentum Laboris 72), we did not wait for Vatican II to translate our liturgical texts into the current language of our people. Since its origins, our Coptic liturgy was celebrated in the different dialects in Upper Egypt, and in the larger cities in Greek, the language of culture and of daily life. Since the beginning of the tenth century, we an find everything in Arabic. One factor which has helped to preserve the faith, and if we compare with other neighboring countries such as North Africa, we observe that several centuries later, Christianity, which flourished at the outset, has vanished; because a foreign liturgy in a little-known language had been imposed upon them.
I have an explanation to ask for and a wish to hope for: In a country such as ours, Egypt, where all (Catholics, non-Catholics and even non-Christians) are Copts, what is the purpose of the Latin liturgy in Arabic? If there are Latins, it is their right to celebrate the Latin Mass, but in a language other than Arabic, because this attracts our faithful and helps in their dispersal.

[00026-02.03] [IN004] [Original text: French]

- H. Exc. Mons. Botros FAHIM AWAD HANNA, Titular Bishop of Mareotes, Curia Bishop of Alexandria of the Copts (ARAB REPUBLIC OF EGYPT)

Through a particular choice of God, Sacred Scripture was born in our land of the East, bringing with it the characteristics of our culture; through a similar choice, the Divine Word became incarnate and shared our reality in the East. He gave himself up to death on the Cross for the salvation of all.
The first annunciation of the Gospel began in the East. Our Churches continue to be faithful to the witness of the Gospel, with God’s help, and that of all the Catholic Church and all men of goodwill, giving to the world and to the Church faithful witnesses to their faith, to the Word, to justice, and to fraternal love. Thus the Word of God will always be the guide for our missionary undertaking.
The Word of God has always fed the peoples of the East and so they have produced rich Biblical, liturgical, theological and spiritual traditions.
The source of the Word of God is still active, but the thirst for it is still powerful in our lands. This is why we need other specialists, centers and pastoral communities to study, meditate on, live and spread Biblical culture in our reality, so that the Word will be the foundation of all education, teaching and dialogue to construct the civilization of the Gospel and love for the good of all.

[00030-02.03] [IN005] [Original text: Italian]

- H. Exc. Mons. Youhannes ZAKARIA, Bishop of Luxor, Thebes of the Copts (ARAB REPUBLIC OF EGYPT)

My intervention concentrates on the renewal of the missionary activity of the Eastern Churches, since the Instrumentum laboris did not deal with this sufficiently.
From the beginning of Church history, the faithful of the East were characterized by missionary zeal, and by enthusiasm in realizing the Lord’s mandate, which asks for the preaching of the Gospel throughout the world.
The weakness and division of the Roman Empire, the violence of national conflicts, the adversity in dogmatic discussions between Christians, the divisions of the Church and successively, the Arab and Islamic dominions in the Middle East have weakened the Eastern Churches, and have conditioned their presence in the East; and as a result there has been a drop in missionary enthusiasm, and the evangelical impulse has been reduced, as mentioned in the Instrumentum laboris no. 20.
Despite the fact that the Church in the Middle East today is a minority living in the midst of a non-Christian majority, and is fighting against the danger of its own decline, and is struggling to maintain Christian faith in the hearts of its faithful, this Church must not be afraid or be ashamed and must not hesitate in obeying the mandate of the Lord which asks it to continue teaching the Gospel.
Starting from this Synod, I ask our Eastern Churches to renew their missionary enthusiasm and their preaching activities; they furthermore must promote the formation of their children that they may rediscover their missionary vocation and be encouraged to enthusiastically consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel, thus participating with the children of the Universal Church, especially those of the Western Church, in the service of the preaching of the Word of God throughout the world.

[00027-02.02] [IN006] [Original text: Italian]




The second Press Conference on the Synod works (with simultaneous translations in Italian, English, French, and Arabic) will be held in the John Paul II Hall of the Holy See Press Office on Monday 18 October 2010 (following the Relatio post disceptationem) at about 12:45 pm. Speakers:

- H. Em. Card. Leonardo SANDRI, Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches (VATICAN CITY), Delegate President
- H. B. Ignace Youssif III YOUNAN, Patriarch of Antioch of the Syrians (LEBANON), Delegate President
- H. Em. Card. John Patrick FOLEY, Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem (VATICAN CITY), President of the Commission for Information
- Rev. F. Federico LOMBARDI, S.I., Director of the Holy See Press Office (VATICAN CITY), Ex-officio Secretary of the Commission for Information

The third Press Conference on the Synod works (with simultaneous translations in Italian, English, French, and Arabic) will be held in the John Paul II Hall of the Holy See Press office on Saturday 23 October 2010 (following the Nuntius and the Elenchus finalis propositionum) at about 12:45 pm. Speakers:

- H. B. Antonios NAGUIB, Patriarch of Alexandria of the Copts (ARAB REPUBLIC OF EGYPT), Relator General
- H. Exc. Mons. Joseph SOUEIF, Archbishop of Cyprus of the Maronites (CYPRUS), Special Secretary
- H. Exc. Mons. Cyrille Salim BUSTROS, S.M.S.P., Archbishop of Newton of the Greek-Melkites (UNITED STATES OF AMERICA), President of the Commission for the Message
- Rev. F. Federico LOMBARDI, S.I., Director of the Holy See Press Office (VATICAN CITY), Ex-Officio Secretary of the Commission for Information

For the access permit, audio-visual operators (cameramen and technicians) and photoreporters are requested to apply to the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.

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