The Holy See Search



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


11 - 14.10.2010





Today, Thursday, 14 October 2010, at 4:30 p.m., with the prayer of Adsumus, the Seventh General Congregation began, with the continuation of the interventions by the Synod 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 H.B. Ignace Youssef III YOUNAN, Patriarch of Antioch of Syrians (LEBANON).

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

At 6:30 p.m. the President Delegate gave the floor to Special Guest, Mr. Muhammad AL-SAMMAK, Political councilor for the Mufti of the Republic (LEBANON) and then to Special Guest, Ayatollah Seyed Mostafa MOHAGHEGH AHMADABADI, Professor at the Faculty of Law at "Shahid Beheshti" University, Member of the Iranian Academy of Sciences (IRAN). The full interventions will be published in number 12 of this Bullettin.

At this General Congregation,which ended at 7.00.p.m. with the prayer Angelus Domini, 160 Fathers were present.


The following Fathers intervened:

- Rev. F. Boulos TANNOURI, O.A.M., Superior General of the Antonine Maronite Order (LEBANON)
- H. Exc. Mons. Chucrallah-Nabil HAGE, Archbishop of Tyr of the Maronites (LEBANON)
- H. Em. Card. Peter Kodwo Appiah TURKSON, President of the Pontifical Council of Justice and Peace (VATICAN CITY)
- Rev. Raymond MOUSSALLI, Protosyncellus of the Patriarchate of Babylon of the Chaldeans (JORDAN)
- H. Exc. Mons. Edmond FARHAT, Titular Archbishop of Byblus, Apostolic Nuncio (LEBANON)
- H. Exc. Mons. Youssef ABOUL EL KHER, Bishop of Sohag of the Copts (ARAB REPUBLIC OF EGYPT)
- H. Exc. Mons. Grégoire Pierre MELKI, Titular Bishop of Batnae of the Syrians, Patriarchal Exarch of the Patriarchate of Antioch of the Syrians (JERUSALEM)
- H. Exc. Mons. Paul DAHDAH, O.C.D., Titular Archbishop of Arae in Numidia, Apostolic Vicar of Beirut of the Latins (LEBANON)
- H. Exc. Mons. Ruggero FRANCESCHINI, O.F.M. Cap., Archbishop of Izmir, Apostolic Administrator of the Apostolic Vicariate of Anatolia, President of the Episcopal Conference of Turkey (TURKEY)

The summaries of the interventions are published below:

- Rev. F. Boulos TANNOURI, O.A.M., Superior General of the Antonine Maronite Order (LEBANON)

The socio-political situation in the Middle East is not going to get any better. As a result, emigration will remain the easiest choice to get away from such a situation. The Church must not limit herself to a purely human logic, but, on the contrary, inspired by the Gospel, she must point out the right choice even if it is difficult: “Enter by the narrow gate,” says the Lord. It is the duty therefore of the Church to educate the faithful and accept the cross and carry it with dignity. But teaching is not the only way to strengthen the faith and hope of the faithful. Inspired by the example of the prophet Jeremiah who buys his cousin’s field when the Holy City was besieged, thus the Church is called on to carry out acts of this type: prophetic acts that give hope to the faithful.

[00114-02.02] [IN088] [Original text: Italian]

- H. Exc. Mons. Chucrallah-Nabil HAGE, Archbishop of Tyr of the Maronites (LEBANON)

To fight in solidarity with others: the ADYAN Foundation (Instrumentum laboris, 106).
The individual in the Middle East, be he Christian or of another religion is in a precarious position, faced with different political, economic, juridical, social or moral evils. Faced with this state of things, the Christian cannot fight the battle alone, but in solidarity with all citizens.
The ADYAN (religions) Foundation seems to me to be a concrete and significant example of this common fight for the faithful. Created by Lebanese Christians and Muslims in 2006, ADYAN aims, through its actions, to promote an enlightened knowledge of religions, an integrative approach in living together and solidarity between faithful. Thus it offers inter-religious studies and develops research of the theology of dialogue on one hand and, on the other hand, it creates inter-religious networks where believers of different confessions find themselves united in the search for a more just understanding of their faith and authenticity of life and witness.
Through its educational programs, the foundation helps youth to take up their faith in a personal way. More so, it contributes to the development of a common social moral based on the respect of human rights. With the movies created by the foundation, it “stars” models of inter-community solidarity.
To consolidate spiritual solidarity at the basic level, we commemorate every year the event in Assisi in 1986, by reuniting the representatives of all the religions in the country around spiritual values such as, for example: peace, reconciliation, etc... ADYAN, is it not a sign of hope for all of us?

[00115-02.03] [IN089] [Original text: French]

- H. Em. Card. Peter Kodwo Appiah TURKSON, President of the Pontifical Council of Justice and Peace (VATICAN CITY)

From a reading of the Instrumentum laboris of this synod, what emerges is the need to spread more widely awareness of the Gospel and the Church’s Social Doctrine among Christians, and more widely, in the countries of the Middle Eastern region. Therefore in line with the sense of para 26 (Instr. Laboris), awareness of the PCGP site could be encouraged as an instrument at the service of the local Churches for a deeper study of the Church’s Social Doctrine. On this subject, the PCGP undertakes to complete the translation of the Compendium of the Church’s Social Doctrine into Arabic.
Furthermore, we could consider, given the intention of the PCGP to set up a summer school at this dicastery, also inviting and involving priests from the Middle East in the sense of the desire expressed in para 26 (Instr. Laboris). Another initiative that could be promoted by the PCGP is that of bringing the Church’s Social Doctrine directly to the Middle East, organizing, for example, a symposium to present Caritas in veritate.
In para 37 we read: “In the Middle East, freedom of religion customarily means freedom of worship...” etc. Given the theme of the Peace Message 2011 (Religious freedom, the road to peace), it would be useful, first of all, to restate the fact that authentic religious freedom includes the freedom to preach and convert. Furthermore, it should be noted that in certain countries, the subject of religious freedom is still viewed with a certain diffidence. For them, religious freedom implies religious relativism, indifference and the negation of the country’s religious inheritance. The Catholic Church faced the same problem with regard to the interpretation of “Dignitatis Humanae” from Vatican II (the Declaration on religious freedom) years ago. But as Pope Benedict VXI teaches us, “Religious freedom does not mean religious indifferentism, nor does it imply that all religions are equal” (Civ. 55). In fact there is no conflict between religious freedom and the strong defense of a person’s religious identity against relativism. Religious freedom is about the privilege (freedom) of a believer to form, live and announce his religious experience, without coercion from the state, but with the possibility of contributing to the social order.
Therefore the Churches and minority religions in the Middle East must not be subject to discrimination, violence, defamatory propaganda (anti-Christian), the denial of building permits for places of worship and the organization of public functions. In fact, the promotion of the Resolutions against the Defamation of Religions in the framework of the United Nations should not limit itself to Islam (Islamophobia) in the Western world. It should include Christianity (Christianophobia: the religion and the community of believers) in the Islamic world.
We can also promote the adoption, again within the UN framework, of a resolution on religious freedom as an alternative to the resolution on the defamation of religions.
In the section relating to international immigration in the Middle East in particular referring to paragraphs 49 and 50 we encounter themes that are particularly close to the heart of this PCGP:
The theme of immigration as a worldwide phenomenon (emigration and immigration).
The theme of decent jobs for domestic workers, who are largely women. To this have to be added needs linked to the respect for human dignity, human rights and the rights of workers, as well as needs linked to respect or religious belief.
Finally, given the large amount of hostility present in the area of the Middle East, paragraph 69 underlines the importance of training young people “to go beyond these bounds and internal hostilities to see the face of God in every person, so as to work together and build an all-inclusive, shared civic order”. The PCGP could elect to favor stagieres and participants from the Middle East at the summer schools who, having returned home, can act as spokesmen for a message of peace among young people, a sort of peace practitioner (cf Laura Villanueva and her peace Field Japan).
In conclusion, as maintained in paragraph 115 the greatest witness Christians can bear in the social field, in the Middle East as in the rest of the world, is that of freely loving their fellow man. The invitation to give, and freely, on the part of Benedict XVI in the encyclical Caritas in veritate is, in fact, an invitation to assume a fraternal way of behaving, an attitude of promoting the growth of our neighbor, an attitude of seeking the common good.

[00116-02.07] [IN090] [Original text: Italian]

- Rev. Raymond MOUSSALLI, Protosyncellus of the Patriarchate of Babylon of the Chaldeans (JORDAN)

We are a part of the history and of the culture of this Middle Eastern region, and if we should be forced to abandon it we will lose our identity within the next generation. For this reason I hope that out of the Synod will emerge the need for a much closer collaboration between the heads of the various Churches in mutual dialogue with moderate Muslim brothers. As we know, our Churches, together with the clergy in Iraq, are being attacked. There is a deliberate campaign to drive Christians out of the country. There are satanic plans by fundamental extremist groups that are not only against Iraqi Christians in Iraq, but Christians throughout the Middle East.
Chaldean Catholic Christians make up the majority of the refugee community that has the vicariate of the Patriarchate of the Chaldean Church as its point of reference, they are about 10,000 people. Further, there are Assyrians, Syrians, Armenians and approximately 10,000 more who live in Jordan with 350,000 Muslim Iraqi refugees. They are living in conditions of extreme poverty with no hope of returning to the land of their ancestors. For years, they have lived in situations of great tribulation often culminating in acts of real persecution. As the Church we are committed with Caritas, the Pontifical mission, other organisations (education - catechism - health - socio-pastoral initiatives... ) but our means are limited. The majority of the refugee community has delivered to us documents that contain written testimony addressed to diplomatic representatives of Western countries (the United States and Australia in particular) and to the Amman Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in order to obtain recognised refugee status. According to their sources approximately 50,000 people are registered.
We want to make the international community aware that it cannot remain silent in the face of the massacre of Christians in Iraq, the countries with the Catholic tradition, so that they might do something for Iraqi Christians, beginning with placing pressure on local Government”. We are experiencing a time that is catastrophic for the emigration of families and the loss of our population which still speaks the Aramaic language spoken by Our Lord Jesus Christ.

[00117-02.05] [IN091] [Original text: Italian]

- H. Exc. Mons. Edmond FARHAT, Titular Archbishop of Byblus, Apostolic Nuncio (LEBANON)

Apart from the fact that in the Middle East we are not a “small residue” even if the word is Biblical, this conclusion is very encouraging. We are not the small remainder, but the hand held out of the Church that communes to its source of Living Water and bears witness of its joy to the most distant brothers. Its place and mission do not depend on the benevolence of one towards the other, nor in tolerance towards each other. And I would like to give two considerations, one about the past and the other on the future of Middle Eastern Christians.
The recent past had us endure great trials of faith that the document does not hesitate to call “The unresolved Israeli-Palestinian conflict, disregard for international law, the selfishness of great powers and the lack of respect for human rights” (IL, no. 118), with all their negative consequences such as emigration and discouragement. The Middle Eastern situation today is like a living organ that has been subject to a graft it cannot assimilate and which has no specialists capable of healing it. As a last resource, the Eastern Arab Muslim looked to the Church, believing, as he thinks himself, that it is capable of obtaining justice for him. This is not the case. He is disappointed, he is scared. His confidence has turned into frustration. He has fallen into a deep crisis. The foreign body, not accepted, gnaws at him and impedes him from taking care of his general state and development. The Middle Eastern Muslim, in the great majority of cases, is in crisis. He cannot make justice on his own. He finds any allies neither on the human nor the political level, let alone the scientific level. He is frustrated. He revolts.
His frustration has resulted in revolutions, radicalism, wars, terror and the call (da’wat) to return to radical teachings (salafiyyah). Wishing to find justice on his own radicalism turns into violence. He believes there will be more of an echo if he attacks the constituted bodies. The most accessible and fragile is the Church. Not knowing of the concept of gratuity, he accuses Christians of having backward thoughts, of proselytism, of being accomplices to the imperial powers. From Iraq to Turkey, from Pakistan to India, the victims have multiplied. They are always the innocent ones and the benevolent servants (Mons. Luigi Padovese, Andrea Santoro in Turkey, the lawyer killed with his family in Pakistan, Mons. Claverie and the religious persons in Algeria, the priests, religious and innocent faithful, killed during the war in Lebanon). These are easy targets.
For the future, the text recommends not being afraid. This does not mean that we can be indifferent. But it is the time for purification and the pains of childbirth, even in the Muslim society. It is up to us to continue our path in these conditions. It is our mission. It is our role that nobody else can fill in our place. It is not only speaking of the almighty God, but also of His Son Jesus Christ, in Arabic. Not only should there be no fear, but we must transmit the message to the future generations. Bathed by the blood of its martyrs, encouraged by its teachers, saints and blessed, the Middle Eastern Church will flourish like the Lord’s vineyard and will bear much fruit.
Today, the Church endures injustice and calumnies. As in the Gospel, many leave, others tire, or flee. The frustrated and desperate ones take their revenge on the innocent ones. Behind the physical assassinations and the most burning failures, there is sin. It is this “anonymous power served by men, by which men are tormented and even killed”, as the Holy Father said to us at the beginning of our work (Reflection by the Holy Father, First General Congregation, October 11, 2010).
When Jesus died “the veil of the Sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom, the earth quaked, the rocks were split, the tombs opened” (Mt 27:51). Evil thought to have won. At the moment of His Resurrection and His victory over death, it was a quiet dawning. He rose without making a sound, He pushed the rock away quietly. There were no witnesses. Life does not need witnesses. He is the Master and the Lord. He would do the same for His Church in the Middle East.
The action of God continues throughout history. The Church in the Middle East lives this moment on the path of the Cross and purification, which leads to renewal, to resurrection. The present suffering and anguish are the cries of the new labor. If they last it is because this type of demon that torments our society can be chased away only by prayer. Perhaps we have not prayed enough!

[00118-02.04] [IN092] [Original text: French]

- H. Exc. Mons. Youssef ABOUL EL KHER, Bishop of Sohag of the Copts (ARAB REPUBLIC OF EGYPT)

I Introduction
At the level of all eparchies and ecclesial educational institutions, a common effort has been made in the concern for the preparation of catechists on a personal and everyday-life level, as well as at the Church level, with the goal to take on the responsibility of the service of catechesis.
II Different domains of work in the field of service for religious education
1. Religious teaching institutions
In all the eparchies, institutes for religious formation have been opened.
2. A Commission charged by the Council of Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops is working to prepare and publish a single book for religious education for all the Catholic confessions in Egypt.
3. A priest and a lay person from the Catholic Church participated in the Committe created by the Egyptian Ministry of Education and Teaching to develop the methods of Christian teaching.
4. The General Secretariate of Catholic Schools is working to follow and train teachers for schools that depend on it and that have the responsibility for Christian education.
III The challenges and problems
1. The financial situations worry families, considered as the first foundation and place where the seed of faith grows.2. The means of modern technology and information attract the minds of children and youths and lead to a change in the scale of Gospel values.
3. Religious and confessional fanaticism as well as many other temptations attract the Catholic minority. Also, confessional difficulties centered on liturgical questions, like that of a new baptism and the impediment to communion, do not focus on what is essential and create scandal and dispersal.
4. The superficiality of the scholastic program and not seeing the incompetence of teachers of religious education where teachers of other subjects teach religious education voluntarily.
IV The future perspective
1. Greater unification of efforts in the service for catechesis on all levels and perseverance in the writing and publication of unified books.
2. Openness of heart and freedom from religious and confessional fanaticism provide the opportunity to create chances of working together and to focus on what unites us.
3. Caring for youth and accompanying them spiritually and helping them to cope with today’s changes, starting from the Gospel values.
“Each day, with one heart, they regularly went to the Temple... they praised God and were looked up to by everyone” (Acts 2:46-47).

[00131-02.02] [IN093] [Original text: Arabic]

- H. Exc. Mons. Grégoire Pierre MELKI, Titular Bishop of Batnae of the Syrians, Patriarchal Exarch of the Patriarchate of Antioch of the Syrians (JERUSALEM)

By request from the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land, I will speak about Migration and the Holy Land. The phenomenon of migration has always existed. In the case of the Holy Land, we will limit ourselves to the situation prevailing today and which has, since the 19th century.
The reasons for it are always the same, political and economical. Since the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has not been resolved, we should not be surprised to see other Christians taking the path of exodus.
Being the first reason for emigration, the conflict in question should lead the parties opposing each other on the land as well as the International Instances to work harder for an equitable and lasting solution to this conflict.
On the other hand, we must point out other factors that have contributed to the decrease in numbers of Christians in the Holy Land: the decrease in the birthrate among couples, marriage at older ages, reunification of families, the pursuit of superior studies abroad, etc... And the existing political and religious divisions are themselves valid reasons.
Beneficial in some regards to the countries that welcome our emigrants, emigration deals a hard blow not only to the Christian presence and witness in the Holy Land, but also to the socio-political life in general, since it deprives the homeland of potentials that could have accelerated their progress and development.
This situation calls on us. We must do something. Some proposals:
- Make a plea to the International Instances so that they apply pressure on the relative parties in view of a rapid solution to the conflict.
- Make a plea to the Churches present that they may work seriously in the path of closeness and unity.
- Implement more concrete and common projects such as residences, the creation of jobs, hospitals, etc...
- Pastorally take charge of the African and Asian Christians who came to our countries...

[00132-02.03] [IN094] [Original text: French]

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

In the text of the Instrumentum laboris, the theological, trinitarian, christological and ecclesiological foundations of ecclesial communion are clearly expressed. They are the basis of sacramental life and the commitment of those baptized in the activities necessary for the growth of the Church in fidelity and holiness and to the development of works of service and witness within the society of men. They are also the reference of legislation that manages the relations between the members of the Churches, hierarchy and faithful, between the Catholic Churches and with the sister Churches.
The text mentions the ecclesial organisms already in place to favor and develop communion between the Eastern Catholic Churches on a global level, then on the level of Patriarchates and finally Eparchies. It points out the central role of the Patriarch and then the Bishop to favor communion, cohesion, unity in diversity. The text also underlines the “serious spiritual and moral responsibility” of the ministers of Christ and consecrated persons. (No. 58).
Apparently, all has been said, all is clear; but the text suggests that the reality is far from the ideal presented this way and there is still much to be done to achieve communion. The diagram of ecclesial institutions and the legislation that rules these structures seems perfect, but does this beautiful machine work? In no. 55 we can see: “to foster a unity in diversity, a rigid or exaggerated confessionalism must give way to encouraging communities to cooperate among themselves, coordinate pastoral activities and manifest spiritual emulation and not rivalry”. Elsewhere (no. 58) we can read: “many of the faithful expect of them a greater simplicity of life, a real detachment from money and worldly goods, a radiating practice of chastity and a transparent moral purity”.
The text seems soothing and shy to us; however, we can read a clear denunciation of the harmful effects of confessionalism and clericalism, pettiness, hungerfor profit, the search for power, comfort and titles in the members of the clergy and religious men and women who act without complexes as functionaries and being noteworthy. These types of behavior can but lead to scandal, to the disintegration of communion, the disaffection and contestation of the Church and the Christian religion, and make the bed for all types of sects.
In several particular pastoral situations, the faithful are faced with problematic attitutdes from the clergy which concretely concern ecclesial communion:
- The Sunday practice in the closest Church, no matter the proximity (local, affective, linguistic or other);
- The celebration of marriage in the Church of the spouse and not in that of the husband;
- Catechesis and first communion in a parish other than that the ordinary parish, question of language and culture,
- the passage of a faithful to another Catholic Church;
- The sometimes exorbitant fees demanded for the sacraments (baptisms, marriages, etc...).
In these situations and others the clergy and the religious persons often show that they don’t
understand what “ecclesial communion” is.
[00133-02.04] [IN095] [Original text: French]

- H. Exc. Mons. Ruggero FRANCESCHINI, O.F.M. Cap., Archbishop of Izmir, Apostolic Administrator of the Apostolic Vicariate of Anatolia, President of the Episcopal Conference of Turkey (TURKEY)

The little Church of Turkey, at times ignored, had its famous moment of sadness with the brutal assassination of the President of the Turkish Episcopal Conference, Mons. Luigi Padevese. Briefly, I would like to close this unpleasant parenthesis, erasing intolerable slander circulated by the same organizers of the crime. Because this is about premeditated murder, by those same obscure powers that poor Luigi had just a few months earlier pointed out as those responsible for the assassinations of Father Andrea Santoro, of the Armenian journalist Dink and the four Protestants of Malatya; that is, a dark plot of complicity between ultra-nationalists and religious fanatics, experts in schemes of tension. The pastoral and administrative situation in the Vicariate of Anatoly is serious. The reasons are:
1) The divisions within the Christian community, already fragile in itself;
2) The “careless” management of the finances of the entire Vicariate by the secretary of the deceased Bishop;
3) The very serious lack of missionary workers.
What do we ask of the Church? Simply that which we are missing: a Pastor, someone to help him, the means to do so, and all of this with reasonable urgency.
Until now, the weight of extraordinary management of this situation has been carried exclusively by the Archdiocese of Smirne.
We are an ancient Church, as poor as we are rich in a tradition such as that about which only Jerusalem and Rome can boast. Of course, we will not start now to complain or cry misery, it is not our custom, and far be it from us to even think of pursuing vengeance by drawing particular attention on the murder of the President of our Episcopal Conference, but certainly our people and those who have shed blood deserve special attention.
Forgive my venting: I beg you to share with us this situation which can be overcome, in short order, at least in two ways: the nomination of a new pastor and economic support.
Clearly, the sending of new missionary workers depends on other factors which may require more time, but this must not lead us to believe that it is a less important point.
The survival of the Church of Anatoly is at risk, and this is a situation in which I ask you, gravely and urgently, to participate. Nonetheless, I wish to reassure the nearby Churches, especially those who suffer persecution and are seeing their own faithful becoming exiles, that, like CET, we will remain open to welcome and fraternal aid, even beyond our abilities; just as we are open to all pastoral cooperation with our sister Churches and with positive lay Muslims, for the good of Christians living in Turkey, and for the good of the poor and numerous refugees in Turkey.
May the birthplace of the original Church be the home of the united Church.

[00136-02.04] [IN096] [Original text: Italian]


Furthermore, the following Auditors intervened:

- Mrs. Rita MOUSSALLEM, Member of the Focolari Movement (Works of Mary) (LEBANON)
- Mr. Saïd A. AZER, Member of the Pontifical Council for the Laity (ARAB REPUBLIC OF EGYPT)
- Mr. Naguib KHOUZAM, General Supervisor of the SETI Center - Caritas Egypt (ARAB REPUBLIC OF EGYPT)
- Rev. Sister Karima TAMER HENDY AWAD, R.B.P., Provincial Superior, Religious of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd (ARAB REPUBLIC OF EGYPT)
- Prof. Marco IMPAGLIAZZO, Professor of Contemporary History at the University for Foreigners of Perugia, President of the Community of Sant'Egidio (ITALY)
- Prof. Sobhy MAKHOUL, General Secretary, Catholic Maronite Exarchate of Jerusalem, the Territories of the Palestinian Authority and Jordan (ISRAEL)
- Mr. Jacques F. EL KALLASSI, Director General of “Télé-lumière” and President of the Management Committee of “Noursat” (LEBANON)
- Mrs. Pilar LARA ALÉN, President of the "Fundación Promoción Social de la Cultura" (SPAIN)

The summaries of the interventions of the Auditors are published below:

- Mrs. Rita MOUSSALLEM, Member of the Focolari Movement (Works of Mary) (LEBANON)

The Work of Mary or the Focolare Movement has been present in the Middle East since 1967. It is rooted in the local culture, in close communion with the universal Church and the local churches, under the care and blessing of the local Patriarchs and Bishops. It has about 15,000 members and adherents among Catholics of different rites.
Encouraged to continuously re-evangelize by close contact with the Word of God, the Movement seeks to address the pains and challenges of the Middle East in light of this. Following the teachings of the Church, its members are committed to witness to the Gospel in the society where they live. The spirituality of communion that characterizes it brings the experience of the Risen Lord among His people, who inspire courage in the face of innumerable challenges. More than a few families, tempted to emigrate, strengthened by the support of the community have decided to remain in their own countries to build a better future together. Many courageous stories of forgiveness and reconciliation provide encouragement for many. Jesus crucified and abandoned, an inexhaustible source of love and new life, is for his members the answer and the way, the indispensable means to spread a culture of the Resurrection.
Many Orthodox brothers share this spirituality with the Catholic members of the Work of Mary. Each one comes into their own church, strongly bound by the love of Christ, they live and work together for the realization of the testament of Jesus, “may they all be one.” (Jn 17:21)
With some Muslims and Jews one may have a deep experience of dialogue about life and the religious experience, living and working together for universal brotherhood and peace.

[00119-02.04] [UD002] [Original text: Italian]

- Mr. Saïd A. AZER, Member of the Pontifical Council for the Laity (ARAB REPUBLIC OF EGYPT)

Thousands of young and adult persons, members of more than twenty Apostolic movements - as well as from the Neo-Catechumenal Way - participate in a lively manner in the services of the Church in Egypt, through listening to the Word of God and the celebration of the holy sacraments.
But every day they have to face the constant temptations that threaten their faith.
The most important challenges facing the members of these movements are:
-Emigration, as a consequence of superficial faith.
-Newspapers and the internet.
-The world moving towards a “culture of death”, as Pope John Paul II said. As an example: homosexual marriages, quick divorces, abortion, the constant attacks on the Christian family.
-Many Christians are no longer interested in the liturgies and no longer listen.
-Sunday Mass alone is not enough for the growth of faith.
-Forgiveness and conversion are values that no longer exist in daily life.
-The lack of unity between members of the clergy, and their human and spiritual formation often is not acceptable and is often scandalous.
-The immersion of young persons in an anti-evangelical atmosphere.
The solution, in the face of all these challenges, is in the consciousness of the members of communities on the meaning of their presence, the value of their mission and their Christian vocation towards the Church and the countries they live in. The Neo-Catechumenal Way, for example, has a lively experience with its members who rejected the idea of emigration, youth that has abandoned drugs, rebuilt marriages, openness to life as it pertains to children, thousands of young boys and girls throughout the world have offered their lives for priestly vocations and monasteries, as well as communion with other churches.

[00120-02.02] [UD003] [Original text: French]

- Mr. Naguib KHOUZAM, General Supervisor of the SETI Center - Caritas Egypt (ARAB REPUBLIC OF EGYPT)

I suggest that the title be Christian contribution: a qualitative, distinct, and indispensable contribution.
In paragraph 115, in the social field our most important witness is the freely given love for the human being and this can be seen in the educational and academic institutions: schools and universities, associations and developmental institutions and economic projects, training centers, healthcare centers. All of it must be open to all without discrimination of gender or creed or social and economic level which focus above all on the poorest and the marginalized.
I suggest that there be a call to do all we can to make these contributions “distinct”, and herein lies the witness that the Catholic Church offers and this requires concentration on:
1. Quality through working to guarantee a quality assurance through specific agreed-upon criteria and measurable indicators which tell the quality of these contributions, and also through monitoring and continued evaluation. And all this accompanies the spirit of the call for perfection.
2. Empowerment through supporting our partners who cooperate with us and good division and delegation of responsibilities, through the continuous establishment which focuses on the spirit of work plus the necessary capabilities for work.3. Accountability through transparency and establishing a clear basis and practicing the rewards and sanctions, and this accountability must be practiced on all levels.
Proposed recommendations for the Catholic Church witness in the social world:
1.That the Church declare war, in the sense of war, on poverty and ignorance, with all possible means.
2. That the Church do everything possible to realize equality and justice, and defend human dignity and rights for each and every human being.
3. That the Church work to help new generations and youth to be committed to the service of their country through the development of society, and thus instill in them a sense of responsibility and a spirit of giving.
4. That the Church take into consideration all of its contributions in the social field: quality, empowerment and accountability.

[00121-02.04] [UD004] [Original text: Arabic]

- Rev. Sister Karima TAMER HENDY AWAD, R.B.P., Provincial Superior, Religious of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd (ARAB REPUBLIC OF EGYPT)

The Church in the Middle East is more concerned than others in the conservation of its main vocation which consists in the development of holy vocations, and this, because the proclamation of the Gospel set out from the East and it was here in the East, in the deserts of Egypt, that the first seeds of vocations and the beginning of heremitic life, the source of monasticism, with its great founders: Anthony, Macarius and Pacomius. The revival of apostolic vocations comes from the heart of the identity of each congregation and spirituality. The Church is conscious of the many needs of the world and of the apostolic role she must play: this is why she is concerned with the revival of vocations, as well as their discovery, and asks our congregations to present this apostolic work and gives her the right to acknowledge herself with respect and distinction. The Church is also convinced that Christ Himself calls upon whoever He wishes to, because He continues to call today as He did yesterday and uses us to deliver His message to hearts. The aim of the revival of vocations is to help young persons in discovering their own vocations in Christian life, be it on the level of marriage or monastic life, and to discover the means to answer this call. If the young person discovers his vocation to consecrated life, the Church must help him in choosing a certain mission. This means that the Church must help the youth in discerning God’s will and His project in their lives. In fact, young persons look for a solid spirituality, but they are faced with the problem of the absence of criteria concerning the values and behavior to be followed today. There is a deep chasm between the scientific development of youths and their psychological, Christian and emotional development, and this is because of the dissolution of the family. This is why the discernment of vocations has become an issue. So the revival of vocations must be ecclesial, that is to say, inserted in an integrated pastoral program, open to all vocations and concerning the monastic and priestly communities.

[00124-02.02] [UD005] [Original text: Arabic]

- Prof. Marco IMPAGLIAZZO, Professor of Contemporary History at the University for Foreigners of Perugia, President of the Community of Sant'Egidio (ITALY)

It is of interest to the Muslim societies that the Christian communities be enlivening and active in the Middle Eastern world. A Middle East without Christians would mean the loss of an internal presence of Arabic culture, capable of claiming the pluralism in relation to political Islam and Islamization. Without them, Islam would be more alone and fundamentalist. Christians present a form of resistance to an Islamisizing “totalitarianism”. Their permanence in the Middle East is in the general interest of the societies and of Islam.
Between Christians and the Middle East, there is a need for certainty in the future. This certainty will not come through Western protection. We saw this in the painful history of Iraq. “Certainty” comes from the recognition of the Muslim majority. Not only the recognition of rights, but also of a social and cultural consensus that expresses the will to live all together. This process requires that the Christian communities be “creative minorities”. Benedict XVI stated: “Normally, the creative minorities determine the future, and in this sense, the Catholic Church must feel like a creative minority”.
It would not be proper to say: we are very few, do not be too demanding. The Church does not exist without mission, a dimension to which she cannot renounce. The perspective of the creative minority indicates an issue: creativity. Creativity sweeps away fear. It does not come from numbers, or from political power. Creativity comes from love. It must always be evermore the imitation of Jesus. We must love even more! To be faithful to Tradition is also being creative. Not only is there a Christian past to be defended in the Middle East, but also a vision of the future in asserting, starting with the conviction that all Christians have their historical vocation there: to communicate the name of Jesus, to live it and, thus, to work to build in a creative way a civilization of co-habitation, something the whole world needs. Here lies the duty of dialogue. I speak in the name of the Community of Sant’Egidio which, since 1986, continues to realize the intuition that John Paul II had at Assisi, when he met the religious leaders and invited them to pray, next to each other, for peace, with the conviction that from religious faith great energies of peace can blossom. There is a spiritual aspect of peace, which is the end of war, but which is also the art of living together in harmony. The Middle Eastern Churches could be the artisans of a civilization of co-habitation, and example on a world level, inasmuch as they reintegrate and re-claim the high and strong sense of their mission

[00122-02.02] [UD006] [Original text: French]

- Prof. Sobhy MAKHOUL, General Secretary, Catholic Maronite Exarchate of Jerusalem, the Territories of the Palestinian Authority and Jordan (ISRAEL)

I discovered that Christianity is first of all a religion but rather the historical coming, singular and unrepeatable, of the Incarnation of the Word of God: Jesus Christ.
Recognizing this event is easy: it is like recognizing the face of a friend among the crowd. Because every man is created for this meeting: like John and Andrew, the Samaritan woman, Zacchaeus and the centurion.
Today, as in every corner of the world, in this world “after Christ and without Christ” as C. Pèguy wrote, we too, Christians of the Holy Land in the Middle East need to encounter here and now the expression of Christ to start over from Him. Everything else will be given to us later, we need to be reborn, like Nicodemus, to find happiness and the taste for life and to be able to demonstrate this to everyone we meet.
Let us remember that in fact we are already the light of the world and salt of the earth and that all of man and all men are awaiting Christ, as John Paul II reminded us in his first encyclical “Redemptor Hominis”.The Christian is called in the world to recognize the presence of Christ and to start from Him when dealing with any situations. Otherwise, problems will always appear to be inexorable and without solution. Our point of departure and of judgment is original: the Lord is present in His Church here and now. Only then can we become truly useful to the world.
The lack of peace is an obvious consequence of the absence of justice in the Middle East. The world powers that boast of being the defenders of freedom and human rights are the first to sacrifice the weak and minorities at the negotiating table for their political or economic interests.
In the current global political situation, the only guarantor of the Christian presence is the Holy See, so we ask for more incision and dynamism from that front.

[00123-02.03] [UD007] [Original text: Italian]

- Mr. Jacques F. EL KALLASSI, Director General of “Télé-lumière” and President of the Management Committee of “Noursat” (LEBANON)

Information is the first power - weapon of the century - the primary origin of knowledge.
- The urgent need to create a new and universal strategy of information.
- Information has the duty to teach the Christian and Muslim youths.
- To nourish the spirit of acceptance of others - to nourish the spirit of freedom - freedom of the thought - freedom of expression - freedom of women.
- The fact of divulging the information that Christians are a minority has as a goal not only to make Christians leave the East but also suppresses Christian civilization in history.
- Information is the door to change.
- The first door to change and to prosperity lies in taking care of the human being.
- Information must say that religions and States, as well as regimes, all must be at the service of man and not man at their service.
- Information must show that Christian presence in the East is not for ourselves, but is a faithfulness to our own homelands and a communion with others and an openness to them.
- Information must show that each people has the right to know their own heritage and historical culture and to conserve it.
- Information can put limits to violence and terrorism - to security violations - to drugs and to the culture of death - to violations against nature.

[00125-02.02] [UD008] [Original text: Arabic]

- Mrs. Pilar LARA ALÉN, President of the "Fundación Promoción Social de la Cultura" (SPAIN)

During my first visit to Lebanon in 1992, I realized what the situation of the country and of Christians was and I told His Exc. Mons. Alvaro del Portillo, who was the Prelate of Opus Dei at the time about it and he answered me that it was one of the subjects which mattered the most to Pope John Paul II. In 1996, I had the chance to have a conversation with His Holiness Jean Paul II who told me that Lebanon is a land of martyrs and that “As long as she will have saints, she will have Christians”. He also asked me to work to help the Christians in the Holy Land to not abandon it, so that it wouldn’t become a museum.
Today the foundation is present in 41 countries and on four continents. In the five Middle Eastern countries, our main area, we have generated more than 98 programs with a business of more than 60 million euros.
After these years of experience in the land, I would like to comment on the situation; in the Middle East we can see a disappearance of entire Christian communities, with indifference from the whole world, especially Europe. At the same time, war is part of daily life; poverty is not the only reason for conflicts, more often the religious factor is. And finally, Christians continue to live around their Churches, even if sometimes it is a simple social formalism.
The conclusion is that the presence of Christians is fundamental for peace and reconciliation. But they should act without displacing religion from public life, like what happened in Europe because this is of no utility to development. The religious values allow us to progress, at times, on the social and personal level. In consequence, Christians must adapt their behavior to their beliefs, to overcome hatred and resentment and to seek forgiveness. They should not preach with words, the evangelical message and its action, vengeance and armed battle.
Every person has the obligation to obtain the formation which allows him to acquire the conditions to progress in his professional and Christian life.

[00126-02.03] [UD009] [Original text: French]


The corrections published in the Errata Corrige in Bulletin No.11 can be found in the specific Bulletins published in these Internet pages.




The Holy Father wished to gift the Synod Fathers and the other Participants of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops the commemorative medal from the Apostolic Visit to Cyprus (4-6 June 2010), when he gave out the Instrumentum laboris of the Assembly.
The work is inspired by the “Vials of the pilgrims in the Holy Land”, small metal flasks for pilgrims kept in the Treasury of the Cathedral of Monza, and one of these in particular, depicting “Christ ascending to heaven”, following a typical Eastern iconography, seated on a throne.
The reverse of the Medal depicts the Ascension. At the bottom center is Our Lady praying and hallowed, wrapped in a maphorion (cloak), surrounded by the twelve Apostles, divided into two groups and with a demeanor of deep emotion in being witnesses of the Ascension. Above, four Angels hold an almond, in which appears the Christ blessing, seated on a throne with a cross-shaped halo while bearing the Gospel in his left hand. On the neck of the vial appears a cross placed under an arch with a garland of golden leaves.
The work which depicts the Ascension, by the artist Louis Teruggi, was produced by the “Johnson 1836” factory of Italian medals, the oldest and most important factory of medals in Italy, with offices in Baranzate (MI) and in Rome, also supplying other Papal medals.

[00137-02.02] [NNNNN] [Original text: Italian]


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: Mrs 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:
- 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 (in the presence of a Synod Father)

Any changes in the dates and times will be communicated as soon as possible.

The names of the Synod Fathers participating in the briefings are published below.

Friday 15 October 2010
Italian - H. B. Fouad TWAL, Patriarch of Jerusalem of the Latins (JERUSALEM)
- Rev. F. David NEUHAUS, S.I., Vicar of the Patriarch of Jerusalem of the Latins for the pastoral care of the Hebrew-speaking Catholics (JERUSALEM)
- H. Exc. Mons. Camillo BALLIN, M.C.C.J., Titular Bishop of Arna, Apostolic Vicar of Kuwait (KUWAIT)
- H. Exc. Mons. Elie Béchara HADDAD, B.S., Archbishop of Saïda of the Greek-Melkites (LEBANON)

Tuesday 19 October 2010
- H. Exc. Mons. Antonios Aziz MINA, Bishop of Guizeh of the Copts (ARAB REPUBLIC OF EGYPT)
- H. Exc. Mons. Paul HINDER, O.F.M. Cap., Titular Bishop of Macon, Apostolic Vicar of Arabia (UNITED ARAB EMIRATES)
- H. Exc. Mons. Guy-Paul NOUJAIM, Titular Bishop of Caesarea Philippi, Auxiliary Bishop and Syncellus for Sarba (LEBANON)
- H. Exc. Mons. Boutros MARAYATI, Archbishop of Alep of the Armenians (SYRIA)

Thursday 21 October 2010
- H. Exc. Mons. Dimitrios SALACHAS, Apostolic Exarch for the Catholics of Byzantine Rite living in Greece (GREECE)
- 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)
- H. Exc. Mons. Youhanna GOLTA, Titular Bishop of Andropoli, Curia Bishop of Alexandria of the Copts (ARAB REPUBLIC OF EGYPT)
- H. Exc. Mons. Giacinto-Boulos MARCUZZO, Titular Bishop of Emmaus, Auxiliary Bishop of Jerusalem of the Latins, Patriarcal Vicar of Jerusalem of the Latins for Israel (ISRAEL)

Friday 22 October 2010
The names of participants will be communicated as soon as possible.


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. John Patrick FOLEY, Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem (VATICAN CITY), President of the Commission for Information
- H. Exc. Mons. Antoine AUDO, S.I., Bishop of Alep of the Chaldeans (SYRIA), Vice President of the Commission for Information
- Rev. F. Pierbattista PIZZABALLA, O.F.M., Custos of the Holy Land (JERUSALEM)
- 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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