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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


08 - 13.10.2010




The President of the Italian Republic, the Honorable Giorgio Napolitano, received a delegation from the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops at the Quirinale.
Present were the President Delegate ad honorem His. B. Card. Nasrallah Pierre Sfeir, Patriarch of Antioch for the Maronites, Bishop of Joubbé, Sarba and Jounieh of the Maronites and the Presidents Delegate His Em. Card Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches and His B. Ignace Youssif III Younan, Patriarch of Antioch for the Syrians. In the delegation there was also the Relator General His B. Antonios Naguib, Patriarch of Alexandria of the Copts, His B. Gregorios III Laham, B.S., Patriarch of Antioch of the Greek Melkites, Archbishop of Damascus for the Greek Melkites, His B. Nerses Bedros XIX Tarmouni, Patriarch of Cilicia of the Armenians, Archbishop of Beirut of the Armenians and His B. Fouad Twal, Patriarch of Jerusalem of Latin Rite.
The Secretary General, His Exc. Mons. Nikola Eterović, Titular Archbishop of Cibalae, the Under Secretary, Mons. Fortunato Frezza and Rev. Ambrogio Ivan Samus also were present at the Quirinale.
After interventions by Archbishop Nikola Eterović, the Patriarchs Antonios Naguib and Ignace Youssif III Younan and Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, the Head of the Italian State addressed his greetings.
Among those present were the Honorable Stefania Craxi, Undersecretary of State for Foreign Affairs and His Exc. Dr. Antonio Zanardi Landi, Italian Ambassador to the Holy See.

[00106-02.02] [NNNNN] [Original text: Italian]


This morning, Wednesday, 13 October 2010, the activities of the Working Groups of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops began. 165 Synodal Fathers were present for the election of the Moderators and the Relators of the Working Groups and for the beginning of the discussion on the Synodal theme.The names of the Moderators and the Relators of the Working Groups that were elected, made known by the Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops during the Fifth General Congregation this afternoon, are published in this Bulletin.



Today, Wednesday, 13 October 2010, at 4:30 pm, with the prayer of Adsumus, the Fifth General Congregation began, with the continuation of the interventions by the Synodal Fathers in the Hall on the theme of the Synod 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).

A time for free interventions followed, in the presence of the Holy Father.

At 18:30 the President Delegate gave the floor to the Special Guest, Rabbi David ROSEN, Advisor to the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, Director of the "Department for Interreligious Affairs of the American Jewish Committee and Heilbrunn Institute for International Interreligious Understanding" (ISRAEL), who intervened on the theme “The Jewish-Christian relationship and the Middle East”.

At this General Congregation, which ended at 06.55 p.m. with the prayer of Angelus Domini, 160 Fathers were present.


At the opening of the Fifth General Congregation the Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops H. Exc. Mons. Nikola ETEROVIĆ read the List of Moderators and Relators of the Working Groups, elected in the First Session this morning.


Anglicus A
- H. Exc. Mons. Paul HINDER, O.F.M. Cap., Titular Bishop of Macon, Apostolic Vicar of Arabia (UNITED ARAB EMIRATES)
Anglicus B
- H. Exc. Mons. Sarhad Yawsip JAMMO, Bishop of Saint Peter the Apostle of San Diego of the Chaldeans (UNITED STATES OF AMERICA)

Arabicus A
- H. Exc. Mons. Mounged EL-HACHEM, Titular Archbishop of Darn, Apostolic Nuncio (LEBANON)

Arabicus B
- H. Exc. Mons. Ramzi GARMOU, Archbishop of Tehran of the Chaldeans, Patriarchal Administrator of Ahwaz of the Chaldeans, President of the Iranian Episcopal Conference (IRAN)

Gallicus A
- H. Exc. Mons. Camillo BALLIN, M.C.C.J., Titular Bishop of Arna, Apostolic Vicar of Kuwait (KUWAIT)

Gallicus B
- H. Exc. Mons. Paul Nabil EL-SAYAH, Archbishop of Haifa and Holy Land of the Maronites, Patriarchal Exarch of the Patriarchate of Antioch of the Maronites (ISRAEL)

Gallicus C
- H. Exc. Mons. Pierre BÜRCHER, Bishop of Reykjavïk (ICELAND)

Gallicus D
- H. Em. Card. André VINGT-TROIS, Archbishop of Paris, Ordinary for the faithful of the Eastern rite outside France without ordinaries of their own rite, President of the Episcopal Conference (FRANCE)

Gallicus E
- H. Exc. Mons. Dimitrios SALACHAS, Titular Bishop of Carcabia, Apostolic Exarch for the Catholics of Byzantine Rite living in Greece (GREECE)

Gallicus F
- H. Exc. Mons. Antoine Nabil ANDARI, Titular Bishop of Tarsus of the Maronites, Auxiliary Bishop and Syncellus for Jounieh (LEBANON)


Anglicus A
- Archmandrite Gabriel GHANOUM, B.S., Patriarchal Administrator of Nuestra Señora del Paraíso in Mexico of the Greek-Melkites (MEXICO)
Anglicus B
- H. Exc. Mons. Gregory John MANSOUR, Bishop of Saint Maron of Brooklyn of the Maronites (UNITED STATES OF AMERICA)

Arabicus A
- H. Exc. Mons. Bashar WARDA, C.SS.R., Archbishop of Arbil of the Chaldeans (IRAQ)Arabicus B
- H. Exc. Mons. Ghaleb Moussa Abdalla BADER, Archbishop of Algiers (ALGERIA)

Gallicus A
- H. Exc. Mons. Joseph ABSI, S.M.S.P., Titular Archbishop of Tarsus of the Greek-Melkites, Auxiliary Bishop and Protosyncellus of Damascus of the Greek-Melkites (SYRIA)

Gallicus B
- H. Exc. Mons. Paul Youssef MATAR, Archbishop of Beirut of the Maronites (LEBANON)

Gallicus C
- H. Exc. Mons. Jean Benjamin SLEIMAN, O.C.D., Archbishop of Babylon of the Latins (IRAQ)

Gallicus D
- H. Exc. Mons. Vincent LANDEL, S.C.I. di Béth., Archbishop of Rabat (MOROCCO)

Gallicus E
- H. Exc. Mons. Paul DAHDAH, O.C.D., Titular Archbishop of Arae in Numidia, Apostolic Vicar of Beirut of the Latins (LEBANON)

Gallicus F
- H. Exc. Mons. Michel ABRASS, B.A., Titular Archbishop of Myra of the Greek-Melkites, Bishop of the Patriarchal Curia of Antioch of the Greek- Melkites (SYRIA)


The following Fathers intervened:

- Rev. F. Umberto BARATO, O.F.M., Patriarchal Vicar Emeritus of Jerusalem of the Latins for Cyprus (CYPRUS)
- H. Exc. Mons. Béchara RAÏ, O.M.M., Bishop of Jbeil of the Maronites (LEBANON)
- H. Exc. Mons. Gregory John MANSOUR, Bishop of Saint Maron of Brooklyn of the Maronites (UNITED STATES OF AMERICA)
- H. B. Nerses Bedros XIX TARMOUNI, Patriarch of Cilicia of the Armenians, Archbishop of Beirut of the Armenians (LEBANON)
- H. Exc. Mons. Paul HINDER, O.F.M. Cap., Titular Bishop of Macon, Apostolic Vicar of Arabia (UNITED ARAB EMIRATES)
- H. Exc. Mons. Nicolas SAWAF, Archbishop of Lattakieh of the Greek-Melkites (SYRIA)
- H. Exc. Mons. Guy-Paul NOUJAIM, Titular Bishop of Caesarea Philippi, Auxiliary Bishop and Syncellus for Sarba (LEBANON)
- H. Exc. Mons. Elie Béchara HADDAD, B.S., Archbishop of Saïda of the Greek-Melkites (LEBANON)
- Rev. F. Khalil ALWAN, M.L.M., Secretary General of the "Conseil des Patriarches Catholiques d'Orient" (C.P.C.O.) (LEBANON)
- H. Exc. Mons. Antoine AUDO, S.I., Bishop of Alep of the Chaldeans (SYRIA)
- H. Exc. Mons. Berhaneyesus Demerew SOURAPHIEL, C.M., Archbishop of Addis Abeba, President of the Council of the Ethiopian Church, President of the Episcopal Conference (Ethiopia and Eritrea) (ETHIOPIA)
- H. Exc. Mons. Youssef Anis ABI-AAD, Archbishop of Alep of the Maronites (SYRIA)
- H. Exc. Mons. Bohdan DZYURAKH, C.SS.R., Titular Bishop of Vagada, Curia Bishop of Kyiv-Halyč (UKRAINE)
- H. Exc. Mons. Virgil BERCEA, Bishop of Oradea Mare, Gran Varadino of the Romanians (ROMANIA)
- H. Exc. Mons. Youhanna GOLTA, Titular Bishop of Andropoli, Curia Bishop of Alexandria of the Copts (ARAB REPUBLIC OF EGYPT)

The summaries of the interventions are published below:

- Rev. F. Umberto BARATO, O.F.M., Patriarchal Vicar Emeritus of Jerusalem of the Latins for Cyprus (CYPRUS)

Last June, Cyprus experienced intense, memorable days when His Holiness, Benedict XVI visited the island. We pray for the spiritually beneficial effect of the Visit to continue.
Cyprus falls under the Patriarchate of Jerusalem. There are four parishes: three administered by the Franciscans of the Holy Land, one by a priest of the Patriarchate.
The number of Latin Catholics is small. The four parishes, together with four congregations religious of women work above all for migrants and also for tourists.
Immigrants constitute an added wealth for the Church of Cyprus. The pastoral care toward them is particular and delicate. They only stay for a few years and are generally only free on Sundays. However pastoral care must be practiced as though they were remaining permanently within the parish. Catechesis is fundamental, above all for preparation for the sacraments. The ecclesial groups (Legion of Mary, charismatics, Neocatechumenal Way, Secular Franciscan Order, national groups for prayer, etc.) may be of great help in contact with the faithful, their knowledge and for collaboration in parish activities.
Pastoral action should be inspired by charity and indiscriminate acceptance, following the example of Jesus.

[00071-02.03] [IN048] [Original text: Italian]

- H. Exc. Mons. Béchara RAÏ, O.M.M., Bishop of Jbeil of the Maronites (LEBANON)

We can read in no. 34 of the Instrumentum laboris: “In Lebanon, Christians are deeply divided at the political and confessional level and are lacking a commonly accepted plan of action”. There is no division on the confessional level, but a diversity of Catholic, Orthodox and Evangelical “sui iuris” Churches, each having their own liturgical, theological, spiritual and disciplinary patrimony. There is however a division on the political level, which does not touch the essence but the strategic options. As for the essence, Christians are in agreement about national constants, defined in the document called “the constants” published by the Maronite Patriarchate on December 6th 2006, which was accepted and signed by the heads of the Christian political parties. These constants were developed in another document which appeared in 2008 entitled: Charter of Political Action in the Light of the Teaching of the Church and the Specificity of Lebanon.
As for political options, the division of Christians is centered on the strategy relating to the protection of the said constants and the efficient and effective presence of Christians. This division is caused by today’s political conditions, internal as well as regional and international.
For there are strong divisions between the Sunnite and the Shiite in the Arab world, apparently on the regional level, in the coalition, on the Sunnite side, between Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan, and on the Shiite side between Iran and Syria. This division was transformed into a bloody conflict between the Sunnite and the Shiite of Iraq. On the international level, the conflict can be located between the United States and its allies in favor of the Sunnites on one hand, and Iran on the other, because of regional ambitions and its nuclear program. In Lebanon, it is the political conflict between the Shiites and the Sunnites, where the division of Christians can be placed. To save the Lebanese regime and their effective presence, one part chose alliance with the Sunnites, another part with the Shiites and a third part calls for good relations with the Sunnites and the Shiites, and to not allow ourselves to be led into the politics of the regional and international axes.
The political project acceptable to all consists in perfecting the civil State, whose elements can be found in the “Constants”, the “Charter of Political Action” and the Constitution. This is what differentiates Lebanon from other Middle Eastern countries, all having religious regimes.

[00069-02.03] [IN046] [Original text: French]

- H. Exc. Mons. Gregory John MANSOUR, Bishop of Saint Maron of Brooklyn of the Maronites (UNITED STATES OF AMERICA)

The Preface to the Lineamenta, reminds us that the situation surrounding the missionary efforts of the first Christians is very similar to ours today. In the early days of the Church, the small Christian community in the Middle East faced numerous challenges and were in the minority. Today after much history, we are once again in the minority and facing numerous challenges.
From the perspective of a Maronite living in the United States, whenever I visit the Middle East I notice with great appreciation the ways in which Catholics make a profound difference in the lives of those around them. The schools, universities, hospitals, nursing homes, drug rehabilitation centers, hospices, orphanages, and other facilities which they operate are open to Muslim, Jew and Christian alike. These Catholics are the “salt of the earth” and the “light of the world” (Matthew 5:13-14).
Like the early Christians, we face seemingly unsurmountable challenges, and our chances seem slim. But we live by faith not by sight (2 Cor 5:7). We may never convince with words our Muslim or Jewish neighbors that our presence is truly a real blessing for them, but the same antidote which helped the first Christians survive and overcome all challenges is also available to us: a share in God's generous and Holy Spirit and an apostolic love for one another that has the power to make us once again able to be “of one heart and soul” (Acts 4:32).

[00072-02.02] [IN049] [Original text: English]

- H. B. Nerses Bedros XIX TARMOUNI, Patriarch of Cilicia of the Armenians, Archbishop of Beirut of the Armenians (LEBANON)

The Word of God that was chosen as the theme for this Synod Assembly: “Now the company of those who believed were of one heart and soul” (Acts 4:32)is like a beacon that lights the road we must take for our life of faith, Christian witness, with our fellow brothers not fully united with the See of Peter and with our other brothers, while different in creed from us.
The return to the first Christian community shows us how the first Christians did not have an easy life, nor was it exempt from difficulties and adversities; on the contrary, they endured outrage and persecutions. But this did not stop them from proclaiming the teachings of Jesus integrally and forgiving.
We find similar situations in our contemporary era. Those Christians not enlightened by the Holy Spirit think they should be spared difficulties. It is important to point this out, and in the sense to re-evangelize our faithful, in proposing faith as lived during the first centuries of Christianity to them.
This does not mean that we should not fight to re-establish justice and peace in the Middle East. But it would be wrong to consider that, without this justice and peace, the Christian cannot fully live his faith or should emigrate. Also, nobody migrates to look for a better Christian life.
The convinced Christian who is called upon, by his baptism, to bear witness of his faith and to lead a Christian life in the community, does not have as his main concern the search for material well-being or peace, or even the flight from problems for his own serenity and those of his family. On the contrary, following the example of the witness of his ancestors in the Middle East, he works in a group with other fellow Christian brothers, to witness through life and through examples, to make the most convincing message of the love of Jesus.
With this principle as a basis, the committed Christian in the Middle East will live, guided by the bishop and in communion with other Christians, to make the spirit of the first Christians progress, who had “one heart and soul” (Acts 4:32), and who put their possessions in common, like the source for our days of the members of certain communities such as the Neocatechumenate, the Focolari and Charismatic Renewal, which have spread throughout several Middle Eastern countries.
To the disciples who live according to these principles, Jesus promises “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven” (Mt 5:12).

[00073-02.03] [IN051] [Original text: French]

- H. Exc. Mons. Paul HINDER, O.F.M. Cap., Titular Bishop of Macon, Apostolic Vicar of Arabia (UNITED ARAB EMIRATES)

The two Vicariates of the Arabian Peninsula, comprising Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, UAE, Oman, Yemen and Saudi Arabia, have no native Christians. The 3 million Catholics in a population of 65 million inhabitants are all labor migrants from a hundred nations, the majority from the Philippines and India. About 80% are of Latin Rite. the others belong to Catholic Oriental Churches. Both Apostolic Vicars are of Latin Rite; the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin has the ius commissionis for the territory; two thirds of the 80 priests are Capuchin Friars from India, the Philippines, Europe and America, belonging to different rites.
The special situation in the Vicariates of the Gulf:
1. Catholic presence in Arab countries with Islam as state religion. Strict immigration laws (restriction on the number of priests) and security system. Individual rights and social care very limited. No freedom of religion (no Muslim can convert but Christians are welcome into Islam), limited freedom of worship in designated places, granted by benevolent rulers (except in Saudi Arabia). Churches too few, attendance very high, in a single parish up to 25 000 on Fridays with 10 and more masses. Distance from church, employment and camp rules make participation for many impossible. Catholic Church is law abiding and trusted by the government.
2. Unity of Catholic Church in diversity of rites and nationalities. The Church has to adapt its structures and pastoral work to the limits imposed by the external circumstances. The Rescript ex audientia approved by Pope John Paul II in 2003 and confirmed by Pope Benedict XVI in 2006 gives jurisdiction over all the faithful of whatever Church, rite or nationality, to the two Ordinaries under whose sole jurisdiction all the priests in the Vicariates work. The Ordinaries have the obligation that the faithful of other sui iuris Churches may practice and observe the norms of their Rite, which they do to the best of their ability. The Rescript has helped to maintain and promote unity, to avoid fragmentation and to provide the best possible pastoral ministry to all the Catholic faithful. All priests must render service to all the faithful, assisted by the thousands of lay volunteers in catechesis, youth and family ministry, hospital and prison apostolate and social work.
Through fraternal relations between the two Apostolic Vicars and the heads of the Oriental sui iuris Churches communion will be strengthened and agreements of collaboration made in respect of the particular situation in order to make more vibrant the witness of the Church in the Gulf which is an exclusively pilgrim and migrant Church.

[00074-02.02] [IN052] [Original text: English]

- H. Exc. Mons. Nicolas SAWAF, Archbishop of Lattakieh of the Greek-Melkites (SYRIA)

“For the Christians are distinguished from other men neither by country, nor language, nor the customs which they observe. For they neither inhabit cities of their own, nor employ a peculiar form of speech, nor lead a life which is marked out by any singularity...Every foreign land is to them as their native country, and every land of their birth as a land of strangers...What the soul is in the body, Christians are in the world” (Epistle to Diognetus).
We live in a secularized and globalized world, where the number of men who are not interested in the questions about God, acting without any Christian reference outnumbers the small number of those recognizing themselves as Christians and believers.
Those to whom catechesis is addressed must establish themselves in a double relationship: relationship of appurtenance to a community founded on unity of faith and a relationship to a community founded on the unity of acceptance of pluralism and differences.
Christian faith can always be found in the field of human cultures.
In the Middle East, we are lacking a catechesis which bears in mind our Arabic culture, our Christian traditions and liturgical wealth.
We are lacking a catechetical program for the catechumenists. We ask for greater effort in the spiritual formation of seminarians.

[00075-02.03] [IN053] [Original text: French]

- H. Exc. Mons. Guy-Paul NOUJAIM, Titular Bishop of Caesarea Philippi, Auxiliary Bishop and Syncellus for Sarba (LEBANON)

The Instrumentum laboris (no. 76), quoting Vatican II, declares that the division between Christians is the object of scandal and that it handicaps the most holy of causes: the preaching of the Gospel. Further on (no. 78), it recalls that His Holiness Pope John Paul II hoped for a new form of practice of the primacy without harming its mission, and inspired by the ecclesial forms of the first millennium which, while varied, did not stop the Christians from feeling at home in all its forms, be it spirituality, moral life or structure.
This is an invitation to review the role and the place of the Eastern Patriarchs in function of origins. A principle supported the organization of the Church at the time: in the same space, a single jurisdiction. And the Church that had spread or was more central than others, ensured unity by being elevated to the level of Patriarchate. The Council of Nicea in 325 mentions three Patriarchates: Rome, Alexandria and Antioch. During the 5th century, the Pentarchy is achieved according to the following order: the Pope in Rome as the first, then the Patriarch of Constantinople, then of Alexandria, then of Antioch and finally the one from Jerusalem.
A return to union presupposes therefore a theology and a juridical organization of the Church which gives back to the Eastern Patriarchs their privileges from the first periods in the Universal Church, next to the Pope, the head of the entire Church. The main difficulties with this project:
- the foundation of new Patriarchates since the first millennium;
- the existence of several Catholic Patriarchs and one Orthodox Patriarch for the same see;
- a Roman Curia with badly defined prerogatives concerning the relationship with the Patriarchal curia.
Proposition: Your Holiness entrust a commission of theological, historical and pastoral experts to propose concrete solutions to these problems and the Church commits itself to apply them as soon as possible.

[00076-02.03] [IN054] [Original text: French]

- H. Exc. Mons. Elie Béchara HADDAD, B.S., Archbishop of Saïda of the Greek-Melkites (LEBANON)

The sale of Christian land in Lebanon is becoming a dangerous phenomenon. It threatens the Christian presence to the point of reducing it to a minimum in the future.
To resolve these phenomena, we propose:
- the creation of a strategy of solidarity between the Churches, sponsored by the Holy See
- Modify the discourse of the Church towards Islam, to distinguish clearly between Islam and fundamentalism. This eases our dialogue with Muslims in view of helping us to persevere in our land.
- To go from the concept of helping Middle Eastern Christians to the concept of development to root them deeper in their land and finding work for them.
Our experience in the Diocese of Saida is predominant on this level.

[00077-02.03] [IN055] [Original text: French]

- Rev. F. Khalil ALWAN, M.L.M., Secretary General of the "Conseil des Patriarches Catholiques d'Orient" (C.P.C.O.) (LEBANON)

Paragraph 55 of the Instrumentum ;laboris did not take into consideration the large role that the Councils play in reinforcing communion between the Catholic Churches and in encouraging ecumenical and religious dialogue.
After having listed the activities of the CCEP, after 20 years of existence, on the level of pastoral theology, ecumenism, the common pastoral and coordination between Catholic Churches, I feel the CCEP suffers a handicap on the level of communication. I propose to the Synodal Assembly:
- Modifying the CCEP statutes to allow the assemblies of bishops from each country to be represented in the annual congress of the CCEP and that their representative may have the power to transmit and put into act the decisions within his assembly.
-The Organization of the congress of Catholic Patriarchs and bishops of the Middle East.Finally, I see that the ecclesiastical authorities, the Roman dicasteries and the western episcopal conferences, and their associations seem to ignore this instance due to a lack of information. This is why, I propose also that the CCEP be added in the Annuarium Pontificium, like all the pontifical and other instances.

[00078-02.03] [IN056] [Original text: French]

- H. Exc. Mons. Antoine AUDO, S.I., Bishop of Alep of the Chaldeans (SYRIA)

Special care in the spiritual and intellectual formation of future priests
I Formation
Despite the decrease in the number of vocations, test the candidates before admitting them to seminary.
Form the seminarians in the profound sense of each liturgy and being able to open to the universality of the Church. In theology, base oneself on Vatican II, to answer the question on modernity in the Arab-Muslim context, giving special attention to the correct use of the Arabic language. Finally, following and according to the advice of Benedict XVI, give importance to a doctrinal formation that is stable and living, translating it into daily life. The pastoral dimension: to learn to preach, to teach catechism, to accompany families, to listen to confessions, these are all vital elements in formation.
II Pastoral and spiritual accompaniment during the practice of priestly ministry.
A. To watch that the priest is moved by the passion of proclaiming the good news.
B. To ensure a quality in permanent formation.
C. To dispense means of re-reading the pastoral service and spiritual and human progress (yearly retreats, sessions, etc...). To remember that the priest is first of all a man of God.
III Confidence, transparent accountability
a. To look objectively at the needs of priests, and to reach a transparent accountability of the diocese which helps develop trust between priests and the faithful.
B. That the Congregation for the Eastern Churches help each Patriarchate and diocese in creating a system of health insurance and retirement plan. The resources are there, competence and rigor are missing.

[00092-02.03] [IN057] [Original text: French]

- H. Exc. Mons. Berhaneyesus Demerew SOURAPHIEL, C.M., Archbishop of Addis Abeba, President of the Council of the Ethiopian Church, President of the Episcopal Conference (Ethiopia and Eritrea) (ETHIOPIA)

Ethiopia has about 80 million inhabitants, half of whom will be approximately below the age of 25. The great challenge which the country faces is poverty and its consequences, such as, unemployment. Many of the youth, aspiring to escape poverty, attempt, by any means, to emigrate. Those who emigrate to the Middle East are mostly young women who go legally or illegally to seek employment as domestic workers because most of them lack professional training. In order, to facilitate their travels, the Christians change their Christian names into Muslim names, and dress as Muslims so that their visas could be processed easily. This way, Christians are indirectly forced to deny their Christian roots and heritage.
According to the data from the Ministry of Labour and Socia1 Affairs and the International Organization of Migration, 13,498 Ethiopian workers migrated to the Middle East between September 2005 and August 2006. (www. American Chronicle/Ethiopia Human Trafficking Hub in the Horn of Africa.html). Their destinations are usually Lebanon, United Arab Emirates, Khuwait, Yemen and Saudi Arabia. On average, about 12,500 Ethiopians leave annually to the Middle East.
Even if there are exceptions where workers are treated well and with kindness, the great majority suffer exploitations and abuses. Many are ashamed to return back to Ethiopia where their families expect them to return with lots of money; however, some are forced to return back desperate, sick, and mentally disturbed. The Christians who die in Saudi Arabia seem not to be allowed to be buried there; their bodies are flown to Ethiopia for burial. Could the Saudi authorities be requested to allocate a cemetery for Christians in Saudi Arabia?
Many Ethiopians turn to the Catholic Churches of the Middle East for assistance and counselling. I will like to thank the Catholic Hierarchies in the Middle East who are doing their best to assist the victims of abuse and exploitation. We are grateful, for example, for the great work of Caritas Lebanon. Modem migration is looked upon as "modern slavery". But let us remember that today's migrants shall be tomorrow's citizens and leaders either in their host countries or in their home countries.

[00093-02.02] [IN058] [Original text: English]

- H. Exc. Mons. Youssef Anis ABI-AAD, Archbishop of Alep of the Maronites (SYRIA)

“We cannot welcome those that God places on our path if we do not welcome God in person. The more we discover God, the more we discover the holiness of God”.
The privileged place for the welcome of our brothers, in the event of our Muslim brothers, is, without a doubt, prayer.
There is a prayer we call contemplative prayer.
To contemplate is above all to contemplate the Trine God. To contemplate is also to contemplate, in the Spirit, the life of men, and, starting from offering it unto God with his joys and suffering, his progress and his regressions... all in having the spirit that we do not see in all the life of others, which remains a mystery to us.
In contemplation; it can happen that we cross, in a fleeting moment, a reflection of God’s gaze on people. This is a moment of grace, a moment of joy, because this gaze is creator, savior and full of love.
The first need is to try to establish a presence with our Muslim brothers, and with the others that we live with: simple, humble, fraternal presence that could favor dialogue under all forms, and mutual understanding.

[00094-02.03] [IN059] [Original text: French]

- H. Exc. Mons. Bohdan DZYURAKH, C.SS.R., Titular Bishop of Vagada, Curia Bishop of Kyiv-Halyč (UKRAINE)

I wish to draw attention to a particular aspect of the vocational pastoral, that is, that of the formation of the spiritual directors called on to carry out their mission in seminaries and religious educational institutes. The spiritual director has a determining role in the discernment of every vocation, he has a precise and fundamental responsibility in the path towards the maturing of each vocation which, in my opinion, certainly does not end at the moment of priestly ordination or the taking of the perpetual vows. I therefore ask a question: to what extent are we concerned about the formation of the future spiritual directors for the seminaries and religious institutes? I have the impression that very often the choice is made on the basis of an immediate need or the notion that such-and-such a priest is reasonably well-suited because he seems to have a good personal spiritual life. But where do we place the other attributes that are required and are no less important? Allow me therefore to suggest that we should all pay the closest attention to the formation of this precious and irreplaceable figure of the vocational pastoral, guaranteeing to those who are suited to the job all the theological and psychological instruments and anything else they might require through specialist training courses.
Above all, I want to express my most profound gratitude to the Latin bishops for their fraternal welcome for our faithful, for the concern they express for them, but, obviously, this is not simply about guaranteeing a “liturgical environment” and, I quote, “reinforcing the link with the faithful of the Eastern Catholic Churches in the countries they have emigrated to”, but of something more important and profound. The Eparchs in exercising their ministry cannot simply limit themselves to these guarantees nor a mere “visit”. I ask: can a father carry out his natural role as regards his far-flung children with a “visit”? The answer is more than obvious, because it is explicit. Therefore it is necessary to responsibly look more closely at this theme of the paternity of the Patriarchs and Eparchial Bishops and identify the juridical and organizational instruments that, obviously in collaboration with the local ordinaries, can lead to an effective exercise of their ministerial responsibility where their faithful live.
I direct my attention to the contemplative orders, recalling their immense importance, to the extent of feeling the need to cite the example of our Great Metropolitan, the Servant of God Kyr Andrea Szeptycky who, as a Basilian, wanted the constitution of the Ukrainian Studite Brethren, defining its characteristic mission of a life of prayer and contemplation as the “lung of the life of the Church”. Allow me to remind all the venerable Synod Fathers of this singularly precious gift, so that we may always feel the need of it and carefully cultivate its presence and growth for the good of all the components of our Churches.

[00080-02.03] [IN060] [Original text: Italian]

- H. Exc. Mons. Virgil BERCEA, Bishop of Oradea Mare, Gran Varadino of the Romanians (ROMANIA)

Many aspects unite our Romanian Church with the sister Churches of the Middle East: above all its being a “little flock”. The Greek Catholic Church in Romania too lives its difficult mission as a minority; a presence that is, though, very powerful in the history of our country, that synthesizes in its being in full communion with the See of Peter and the treasure house of the Byzantine tradition.
Dear Eastern brothers, we are called, together with you, to face the trials of our times: the huge wave of emigration and globalization with all of its challenges and idols which Pope Benedict XVI spoke about and which we are all called to expose. Further, such a situation of emigration–which we have never before experienced in the history of our Romanian peoples–in which, out of a population of 22 million citizens, nearly five million are living in Europe and in the world, offers the opportunity for productive comparisons and mutual enrichment.
Immigration in sharing enhances all; therefore, we always keep our gaze fixed on Jesus, the first one who had to move out of the land of Egypt, to ask of and receive from him that renewed enthusiasm, and that we must then communicate to our faithful and our communities.

[00082-02.06] [IN061] [Original text: Italian]

- H. Exc. Mons. Youhanna GOLTA, Titular Bishop of Andropoli, Curia Bishop of Alexandria of the Copts (ARAB REPUBLIC OF EGYPT)

Relationships with the Orthodox Churches in my country:
They are our roots, our ancestors, they were the ones who fought to defend Christian faith and maintain it for us up until today. They offered the martyrs, saints, great theologians. In consequence of this, the unity of the Church, which is the Church’s prayer, always remains the hope of Christian history.
Relationship with Muslim citizens:
The Middle Age left us with bitter fruits made up of hatred and contempt, a real tragedy.
Could we all, together, Christians and Muslims write a new page in history, of love, of respect and of forgiveness to build together for the future generations a future without tragedy.

[00083-02.03] [IN062] [Original text: French]


The English translation of the full text of the intervention is published below.

The relationship today between the Catholic Church and the Jewish people is a blessed transformation in our times - arguably without historic parallel.
In his words in the great synagogue here in Rome last January, H.H. Pope Benedict XVI referred to the teaching of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council as "a clear landmark to which constant reference is made in our attitude and our relations with the Jewish people, marking a new and significant stage."
Naturally this striking transformation in the way the Jewish people is viewed and presented , still had and has to contend with the influence of centuries, if not millenia, of the "teaching of contempt" towards Jews and Judaism, which obviously is not eliminated overnight nor even over forty five years. Inevitably, the impact of this transformation in Catholic-Jewish relations varies considerably from one context to another, influenced by sociological, educational and even political factors. Arguably the most dramatic internalization has taken place in the United States of America where Jews and Christians live in an open society side by side as vibrant self-confident and civically engaged minorities. As a result the relationship has advanced there to a unique degree involving cooperation and exchanges between the communities and their educational institutions; and today the US boasts literally dozens of academic institutions for Catholic-Jewish studies and relations, while there are perhaps three in the rest of the world. Indeed there is a widespread perception among the Jewish communities in the US of the Catholic Church as a genuine friend with profound values and interests in common. It is my privilege to head the international interfaith representation of the American Jewish Committee, which has been and continues to be the leading Jewish organization in this remarkable and historic transformation.
However, there are many countries where such social and demographic factors are not present. In most countries where Catholicism is the dominant social force, Jewish communities are small if present at all, and the relationship between the Church and Judaism often gets little notice. I confess to having been surprised to find Catholic clergy and sometimes even hierarchy from some countries not only ignorant about contemporary Judaism but often even about Nostra Aetate itself, the Vatican documents that flowed from it and thus the relevant teachings of the Magisterium concerning Jews and Judaism.
While as indicated, Jewish experience in the US has done much to alleviate negative impressions of the tragic past; there is still widespread ignorance about Christianity in the Jewish world - especially where there is little or no contact at all with modern Christians.
In the only polity in the world where Jews are a majority, the State of Israel, this problem is further compounded by the political and sociological context. In the Middle East, as in most parts of the world, communities tend to live in their own linguistic, cultural and confessional settings, and Israel is no exception. Moreover Christian Arabs in Israel are a minority within a minority–approximately 120,000 among an Arab citizenry of around a million and a half which is overwhelmingly Muslim and which constitutes some twenty per cent of the Israeli citizenry as a whole (some seven and a half million.)
It is true that Christian Arab Israelis are a particularly successful religious minority in many respects. Their socio-economic and educational standards are well above average–their schools receive the highest grades in annual matriculation examinations–many of them have been politically prominent and they have been able to derive much benefit from the democratic system of which they are an integral part. However, the daily life of the vast majority of Arabs and Jews takes place in their own respective contexts. As a result, most Jewish Israelis do not meet contemporary Christians; and even when they travel abroad, they tend to meet non-Jews as such, not as modern Christians. Accordingly, until recently most of Israeli society has been quite unaware of the profound changes in Catholic-Jewish relations. However, this situation has begun to alter significantly in the last decade for different reasons, but two in particular are especially noteworthy.
The first is the impact of the visit of the late Pope John Paul II in the year 2000, following the establishment of full bilateral relations between Israel and the Holy See six years earlier. While the latter had already had some effect on perceptions in Israel, it was the power of the visual images, the significance of which Pope John Paul II understood so well, that revealed clearly to the majority of Israeli society the transformation that had taken place in Christian attitudes and teaching towards the Jewish people with whom the Pope himself had maintained and further sought mutual friendship and respect. For Israelis to see the Pope at the Western Wall, the remnant of the Second Temple, standing there in respect for Jewish tradition and placing there the text that he had composed for a liturgy of forgiveness that had taken place two weeks earlier here at St. Peter's, asking Divine forgiveness for sins committed against the Jews down the ages, was stunning and overwhelming in its effect. Israeli Jewry still has a long way to go in overcoming the negative past, but there is no question that attitudes have changed since that historic visit. In addition it led to the remarkable new avenue for dialogue, understanding and collaboration in the form of the bilateral commission of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and the Holy See's Commission for Religious Relations with Jewry, established at John Paul II's initiative and praised extensively by Pope Benedict XVI during his pilgrimage to the Holy Land last year and also in his words at the great synagogue here in Rome earlier this year.
The other major factor is the influx of other Christians who have doubled the demographic make-up of Christianity in Israel.
I refer first of all to the estimated approximately fifty thousand practicing Christians who were part and parcel of the immigration to Israel in the last two decades from the former Soviet Union. As integrally connected at the same time to Jewish society through familial and cultural ties, they arguably represent the first Christian minority that sees itself at the same time as part and parcel of a Jewish majority since the very first Christian community.
These Christians, as the Arab Christian communities, are Israeli citizens who enjoy full franchise and equality before the law. However, there is a third significant Christian population in Israel whose legal standing is sometimes problematic.
These are the scores of thousands of practicing Christians among almost a quarter of a million of migrant workers - from the Philippines, Eastern Europe, Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa. Most of them are in the country legally and temporarily. However, close to half of them have entered or remained illegally and their position is legally precarious.
Nevertheless the substantial Christian presence among this population maintains a vibrant religious life and constitutes a significant third dimension to the Christian reality in Israel today.
These factors have contributed, among others, to an increasing familiarity in Israel with contemporary Christianity. In addition, while there are an estimated two hundred or so Israeli organizations promoting Arab-Jewish understanding and cooperation generally , there are also literally dozens of bodies promoting interreligious encounter, dialogue and studies, and the Christian presence in these is disproportionate and highly significant. This of course is substantially due to the presence of Christian institutions and their clergy, scholars, international representatives of churches and so on, who contribute totally out of proportion to their numbers to these efforts especially in the field of scholarship. Moreover the fact that in the State of Israel, Christians, as Muslims, are minorities with a need to be accepted and understood by the Jewish majority also serves as impetus for interfaith engagement (as opposed to elsewhere where the contrary may often be the case.)
Christians in Israel are obviously in a very different situation from their sister communities in the Holy Land who are part and parcel of a Palestinian society struggling for its independence and who are inevitably caught up in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on a daily basis. Indeed the location of some of these communities on the intersection between Israeli and Palestinian jurisdiction means that they often bear the brunt of security measures which the Jewish State feels obliged to maintain in order to protect its own citizenry against continuous violence from within the Palestinian territories. It is only right and proper that such Palestinian Christians should express their distress and their hopes regarding the situation. However it is notable and regrettable that such expressions have not always been in consonance with the letter and spirit of the Magisterium concerning the relationship to Jews and Judaism. This would seem to be reflected in a wider geographical context, where the impact of the Arab-Israeli conflict has all too often meant a discomfort for many Christians with the Church's rediscovery of its Jewish roots and sometimes a preference for historical prejudice.
Nevertheless the plight of Palestinians generally and Palestinian Christians in particular should be of profound concern to Jews both in Israel and the Diaspora.
To begin with, especially as Judaism brought the recognition to the world that every human person is created in the Divine Image; and that accordingly, as the sages of the Talmud teach, any action of disrespect for another person, is an act of disrespect for the Creator himself; we have a special responsibility in particular for neighbors who suffer. This responsibility is even greater when suffering is born out of a conflict of which we are a part and paradoxically precisely where we have the moral and religious duty to protect and defend ourselves.
For me personally as an Israeli Jerusalemite, the distressing situation in the Holy Land and the suffering of so many on the different sides of the political divide, is a source of much pain; even as I fully realize that it is used and abused to heighten various tensions that go well beyond the geographical context of the conflict itself.
Yet I give thanks to God for the remarkable amount of organizations in our society working to alleviate as much suffering as possible in this very difficult context.
I am proud to be a founder of one of these organizations, Rabbis for Human Rights, whose director and members, precisely as loyal Israeli citizens, continue to struggle to preserve and advance the human dignity of all and especially of the vulnerable. I am of course fully conscious of the carnage of the recent past in the streets of our cities and the ongoing threats of the present from those openly committed to the destruction and extermination of Israel. Notwithstanding, we must strive to do all we can to alleviate the hardships of the situation and especially as they pertain to the Christian communities in Jerusalem and environs.
In fact, in recent months there has been a notable improvement in conditions, for example, regarding the free movement of clergy, and there have also been recent indications that there is a growing understanding of the needs of the local Christian communities by the authorities, notwithstanding the security challenges. We continue to advocate for such, believing it to be ultimately in the interests of all.
Indeed, Jewish responsibility to ensure that Christian communities flourish in our midst, respecting the very fact that the Holy Land is the land of Christianity's birth and holy places, is strengthened by our increasingly rediscovered fraternity.
Yet even beyond our particular relationship, Christians as a minority in both Jewish and Muslim contexts play a very special role for our societies at large. The situation of minorities is always a profound reflection of the social and moral condition of a society as a whole. The wellbeing of Christian communities in the Middle East is nothing less than a kind of barometer of the moral condition of our countries. The degree to which Christians enjoy civil and religious rights and liberties testifies to the health or infirmity of the respective societies in the Middle East.
Moreover, as I have already indicated, Christians play a disproportionate role in promoting interreligious understanding and cooperation in the country. Indeed I would presume to suggest that this is precisely the Christian métier, to contribute to overcoming the prejudice and misunderstanding that bedevil the Holy Land and which of course are greatly reinforced in the region at large. While it is not fair to expect the small local Christian communities to be capable of bearing such responsibility alone, perhaps we may hope that supported in this by their universal Church and its central authority, they may indeed be blessed peacemakers in the city whose name means peace and which has such significance for our communities. Already some initial sign of this has been evident in the local Catholic leadership role in the establishment in recent years of the Council of the Religious Institutions of the Holy Land, which brings together the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, the Shaaria Courts and Ministry of Religious Affairs of the Palestinian Authority, and the official Christian leadership in the Holy Land. This Council not only facilitates communication between the various religious authorities, but it is also committed and working to combat misunderstanding , bigotry and incitement, and also seeks to be a force for reconciliation and peace so that two nations and three religions may live in the land in full dignity, freedom and tranquility.
The Instrumentum Laboris of this Special Assembly for the Middle East quotes Pope Benedict XVI in his interview with Osservatore Romano on his way to the Holy Land as follows: "it is important on the one hand to have bilateral dialogues–with the Jews and with Islam–and then also trilateral dialogue" (sect.96). Indeed this last year, for the first time, the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Relations and the Pontifical Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews co-hosted together with the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations (IJCIC) and the foundation for the Three Cultures in Seville Spain, our first trilateral dialogue.
This was a particular joy for me as the proposal for this was put forward during my chairmanship of IJCIC and I earnestly hope that this is just the beginning of more extensive trilateral dialogue, to overcome suspicion, prejudice and misunderstanding, so that we may be able to highlight the shared values in the family of Abraham for the well-being of all humanity.
It appears to me that the aforementioned bilateral commission with the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and the Council of the Religious Institutions of the Holy Land together offer even greater opportunity and challenge in this regard.
The Instrumentum Laboris also provides important insights into the nature of relations for Christians with both Muslims and Jews. It quotes Pope Benedict XVI's words in Cologne in August 2005 when he described relations with Islam as "a vital necessity….on which in large measure our future depends" (sect.95). Indeed in the Middle East this is a truism. Whether one understands the concept of dar el Islam in just a geographical/cultural context or in a theological one, the critical question for the future of our respective communities is whether or not our Muslim brethren can see the Christian and Jewish presence as a fully legitimate and integral part of the region as a whole. Truly the need to address this issue is nothing less than "a vital necessity…on which…our future depends".
Indeed this relates to very issue that is at the "root" of the Israeli-Arab conflict. Those who claim that "occupation" is the "root cause" of conflict are at best disingenuous.
This conflict had been going on for decades long before the Six Day War in 1967 as a result of which the West Bank and Gaza came under Israeli control. "Occupation" in fact is precisely a consequence of the conflict, the real "root issue" of which is precisely whether the Arab world can tolerate a non-Arab sovereign polity within its midst.
However, the Instrumentum Laboris commenting on Dei Verbum describes the dialogue of the Church "with her elder brothers" as not just necessary, but as "essential" (sect.87). Indeed in his visit to the great synagogue in this city this year, Pope Benedict XVI quoted the Catechism of the Catholic Church (sect.839).
"It is in pondering her own mystery that the Church, the People of God of the New Covenant, discovers her own profound bond with the Jews, who were chosen by the Lord before all others to receive His word", and added that "the Jewish faith, unlike other non-Christian religions, is already a response to God's revelation".
These words echo those of the late Pope John Paul II who in his historic visit to the same central Jewish place of worship in this city in 1986 declared that "the Jewish religion is not extrinsic to us but in a certain way is intrinsic to our own religion. With Judaism therefore we have a relationship which we do not have with any other religion." Furthermore in his Apostolic Exhortation of June 28th 2003 he described "dialogue and cooperation with believers of the Jewish religion" as being "fundamentally important for the self-knowledge of Christians" in keeping with the Synod's call "for acknowledgment of the common roots linking Christianity and the Jewish people, who are called by God to a covenant which remains irrevocable".
As I have noted, the political realities in the Middle East do not always make it easy for Christians in the region to acknowledge, let alone embrace, these exhortations. However I pray that the miracle of what John Paul II referred to as "the flowering of a new springtime in mutual relations" will increasingly become evident in the Middle East as throughout the world.
To this end let us dedicate ourselves ever more devotedly both through prayer and in work for peace and dignity for all. Let us pray in the words of Pope John Paul II at the Western Wall in Jerusalem with which Pope Benedict XVI concluded his presentation at the Rome great synagogue."Send Your peace upon the Holy Land, upon the Middle East, upon the entire human family; stir the hearts of those who call upon Your Name, to walk humbly in the path of justice and compassion".
And allow me, as one who comes to you from the city that is holy and beloved to us all, to conclude with the words of the Psalmist "May the Lord bless you from Zion and may you see the good of Jerusalem all the days of your life"(Psalm 128:5).

[00066-02.03] [NNNNN] [Original text: English]


The corrections published in the Errata Corrige in Bulletin No.8 can be found in the specific Bulletins published in these Internet pages.




In order to provide more accurate information on the work of the Synod, 4 language groups have been organized for the accredited journalists.

The location of the briefings and the name of the Press Attaché for each of the language groups are as follows:

Italian language group
Press attaché: Rev. Mons. Giorgio COSTANTINO
Location: Journalists’ Room, Holy See Press Office

English language group
Press attaché: Dr Tracey Alicia McCLURE
Location: John Paul II Conference Hall, Holy See Press Office

French language group
Press attaché: Mrs Romilda FERRAUTO
Location: “Blue” Room Ist Floor, Holy See Press Office

Arabic language group
Press attaché: Fr Jean MOUHANNA, O.M.M.
Location: Telecommunications Room, Holy See Press Office

On the following days, the Press Attachés will hold briefings at about 1:30 pm:
- Thursday 14 October 2010
- Friday 15 October 2010 (in the presence of a Synod Father)
- Saturday 16 October 2010
- Tuesday 19 October 2010 (in the presence of a Synod Father)
- Thursday 21 October 2010 (in the presence of a Synod Father)
- Friday 22 October 2010

The names of the participants and any changes in the above dates and times will be communicated as soon as possible.

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Error correction

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