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


13 - 15.10.2010





At 9:00 today Friday 15 October 2010, memorial of St. Teresa of Jesus, virgin and doctor of the Church, Discalced Carmelite, in the presence of the Holy Father, with the Hour of Terce, the Eight General Congregation began, to continue the interventions by the Synodal Fathers in the Hall on the Synodal theme The Catholic Church in the Middle East: Communion and Witness. "Now the company of those who believed were of one heart and soul" (Acts 4:32)

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

To close the Congregation, H.B. Em Card. Emmanuel III Delly, Patriarch of the Babylon of the Chaldeans (Iraq) President Delegate ad honorem, spoke

At this General Congregation, which ended at 12.30 with the prayer Angelus Domini, 168 Fathers were present.


The following Fraternal Delegates intervened:

- H. Em. Makarios TILLYRIDIS, Metropolitan of Kenya (KENYA)
- H. Em. Georges KHODRE, Greek-Orthodox Metropolitan of Byblos, Botrys and Mount Lebanon (LEBANON)
- H. Em. Mar Gregoios Yohanna IBRAHIM, Metropolitan of Alep (SYRIA)
- H. Exc. Armash NALBANDIAN, Bishop of Damascus, Primate (SYRIA)
- H. Exc. Shahan SARKISSIAN, Bishop of Alep, Primate of the Armenians in Syria (SYRIA)
- H. Exc. Michael LANGRISH, Bishop of Exeter (UNITED KINGDOM)
- H. Em. Mar Gregoios Yohanna IBRAHIM, Metropolitan of Alep (SYRIA)
- H. B. Mar Gewargis SLIWA, Metropolitan of Baghdad and Iraq (IRAQ)

The Fraternal Delegate’s summaries are pulished below

- H. Em. Makarios TILLYRIDIS, Metropolitan of Kenya (KENYA)

On this special day, I am greatly honored and to the utmost humbled by this honor to speak before you. I also count it a blessing that I get to speak in your presence, Your Holiness, from this region which will always be unique in the history of Christianity, because it is here that creation credits its origins. To the majority of the world, the Middle East is a volatile region. But we, as believers in the Gospel of Christ know better, because our belief is founded on the teachings of the Prince of peace.
Your Holiness, your own words of insight, while speaking to the British Society recently, express this belief that, “This is why I would suggest that the world of reason and the world oj faith - the world of secular rationality and the world of religious belief - need one another and should not be afraid to enter into a profound and ongoing dialogue, for the good of our civilization”. This message is very much applicable and relevant here in the Middle East, where reconciliation, love and understanding are very essential for peaceful co-existence and cooperation.
St. Thomas Aquinas once said that, “because of the diverse conditions of humans, it happens that some acts are virtuous to some people, as appropriate and suitable to them, while the same acts are immoral for others, as inappropriate to them”. This speaks out in a setup like the one we have here in this region where a mixture of religions and cultures abide, where one's belief is not similar to his neighbour's. In the Middle East, freedom of religion customarily means freedom of worship and not freedom of conscience, Le., the freedom to change one's religion for belief in another. The setup that once is faced with here is one where religion is a social and even a national choice, and not an individual one. Change of religion is viewed as betrayal to society, founded largely on a religious tradition. We however should always remember that this does not lock out love which is required for unity and the working together of all Christian churches in the Middle East. It is very important for us as Shepherds to cultivate togetherness, in love unfeigned, remembering Mother Teresa's words; “If you want a love message to be heard, it has got to be sent out.” We are therefore called to send out a message of love to all those who surround us and impact our lives in different ways.
Concerning the community of Muslim brothers and sisters as well as the Jewish community all around us, we can't fall to respect their belief and way of life. We need to cultivate respect and appreciation of all beliefs that surround us, while preaching the message of love and peace amongst the different religions. Co-operation with the Non-Christians is very important in healing past injustices and promoting peaceful coexistence. As shepherds in this great vineyard of our Lord, I encourage you to forge ahead in humility, love and understanding, in advancing the great commission of our lord in Matthew 28:19-20. In humility, the message of our Lord will surely be heard among all races, creeds and cultures that surround us in this region.
Once again let me express my sincere gratitude for this special invitation, especially to your Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. I wish you all peace from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. May he keep us united in the Faith always

[00145-02.02] [DF001] [Original text: English]

- H. Em. Georges KHODRE, Greek-Orthodox Metropolitan of Byblos, Botrys and Mount Lebanon (LEBANON)

“This communion within the Universal Church is manifested in two ways: firstly, communion in the Eucharist; secondly, communion with the Bishop of Rome”.
The ambiguity of this statement rotates around the use of the term Catholic Church as well as the tie of the Eucharist with the Pope. Now, the expression begins with Saint Ignatius of Antioch, and designates communion in a local Church united in Orthodox faith to his bishop in such a way that the liturgy mentions him without referring to another ecclesial authority. The mention of the Bishop of Rome in the liturgy outside of one’s own diocese introduces the idea of a universal Church mentioned in the Instrumentum laboris and repeated in the inaugural Mass of this synod. The word introduces a numeric, spacial, sociological note while the Catholic Church is constituted herself first locally by Lord as His Body. Does not the Universal Church have as her corollary the existence of a universal bishop who would exercise a jurisdiction over a world independently of the Eucharist, the only sign of communion between Christians? It is the Eucharist that makes us everywhere a “chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation”.
In mentioning the Pope of Rome in the Eastern liturgies we are inviting the Churches to a practice the East has never known.

[00149-02.02] [DF005] [Original text: French]

- H. Em. Mar Gregoios Yohanna IBRAHIM, Metropolitan of Alep (SYRIA)

First of all His Eminence Gregorios presented the greetings from His Beatitude the Patriarch to His Holiness Benedict XVI, and expressed his wish that the Synod should have a successful outcome. He then touched on three important topics, namely:
1. The emigration of Christians from the Middle East, which he defined as a fatal illness, saying that up to now this topic had not received enough attention; the proof of this is that massive emigration continues everywhere. The number of Christians is dropping every day and in order for this illness to be treated and suitable solutions found to bring this phenomenon to an end a special conference is required.
2. As regards the ecumenical journey, His Beatitude put forward a new suggestion to His Holiness the Pope, namely separating communion from authority. In this way the whole Church enters into a single communion and unity in faith goes back to being what it was before the era of the divisions.
3. As regards relationships with the Muslims, His Beatitude affirmed that the most dangerous enemy Christians and Muslims have to face is ignorance, which is what often dominates religious discussion, creating tensions, instability and conflict between Christians and Muslims. He suggested that the Christian Church promote enlightened thought and entrust itself to moderates.
In conclusion, he made the following suggestions:
1. Even if this topic has already been dealt with by other Synodal Fathers at this assembly, this is the time and place to draw it to your attention and then to proceed from a rapid study and translate it into reality: this is a general request of all the Christians of the Middle East, that is, finding a solution to unify the date of the Feast of Easter. Christians are waiting impatiently to see their unity represented by this symbol. So will it be this venerable Synod that takes the decision to unify the Feast of Easter? His Beatitude the Patriarch Gregorios Laham has announced it on various occasions, in fact he came close to realizing this dream of all the Churches of the Middle East on unifying the date of Easter. This could be the first step towards the longed-for Christian unity.
2. Our Churches are rooted in persecution and we in the East are the children of martyrs. We must not forget the martyrs of the 20th and 19th centuries, the victims of inhuman massacres, or what we Syriacs call Sifo. My proposal is that Your Holiness adopt the idea of a single feast for the Christian martyrs universally and that requires no more than the consensus of all the Christian Churches, so that a day may be established for the celebration of the Feast of the Martyrs everywhere. We will thus have taken another step towards Christian unity and, at the same time, we will perpetuate the memory of our holy martyrs every year.

[00147-02.02] [DF003] [Original text: Arabic]

- H. Exc. Armash NALBANDIAN, Bishop of Damascus, Primate (SYRIA)

1. Emigration.
We, the Christian churches, are suffering from a big problem concerning the emigration of our faithful believers. That is not because of the political or economical reasons or circumstances in the countries in which we live, even though there are many difficulties of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the war in Iraq or political instability in Lebanon and in other Middle Eastern countries. The major cause for emigration is oftentimes the plan of western or international politics, when it ignores the existence of Christians in the Middle East and in the Holy land, and when they name our countries as terrorist countries or societies. An Islamic country does not automatically mean a terrorist country.
2. Dialogue with Islam.
Every day we witness our Christian faith, when we are forced to clarify the spirit of the message of the Gospel, the message of love, peace, tolerance etc, in non-Christian countries, because of international politics, that intend to declare nearly every Middle Eastern country as a radical Islamic and terrorist country. Interreligious dialogue often needs big efforts to find a common path with our Muslim brothers and sisters and to accept and respect, that Islam also contains the principals of love, peace, solidarity and the witness of a merciful God, the almighty Creator. We can only expect from the churches in the West to raise their voice or put efforts against the politicians and those who intend to use religion to justify the war of economical and political interests. The moral authority of the church has its own weight and value on the international political decisions.
3. Ecumenical dimension.
A very healthy, vivid and good ecumenical relationship exists among the churches of various confessions in the Middle East. We are very hopeful that the Special Assembly for the Bishops of Middle East will offer us new opportunities to find new ways for ecumenical dialogue, cooperation and witness of the message of the Gospel. But we feel a burden when we read in Lineamenta in paragraph (9) the statement "In the wake of these divisions and separations, periodic attempts were made to re-establish the unity of the Body of Christ. This ecumenical effort gave rise to the Eastern Catholic Churches". Our Churches exist in countries which have been the cradle of Christianity. They are the living guardians of our Christian origin. These lands have been blessed by the presence of Christ himself and the first generations of Christians. We have to accept the historical facts but let us not call it "ecumenical efforts".
We hope throughout this Special Assembly for the Bishops of Middle East a reorganization of the Catholic churches and refreshment of the witness of faith will take place. But the mission and so the existence of the catholic churches can be or must be understood only in ecumenical communion and unity with the other churches in the region. (38)

[00146-02.02] [DF002] [Original text: English]

- H. Exc. Shahan SARKISSIAN, Bishop of Alep, Primate of the Armenians in Syria (SYRIA)

In “Christianity at the Crossroads in the Middle East”, published in 1981, His Holiness Aram 1st already expressed himself in these terms: “The Middle East was the cradle of the Church, but her Christian presence is threatened there today. In this region, which was the source of Christian culture and theological thinking, the Christian culture and identity is weakened. Also, the Church fights for her existence and survival in the Middle East”. This concern that his Holiness expressed way before, today is more than a reality. There are situations in which the efforts of the Church are limited. This means that it is obviously impossible to drastically change the conditions that surround us. However, as Church, we could determine together the process related to our commitment in view of a renewal and internal solidarity that is more effective. The following priorities are drawn to the attention of the Synod:
1. We must more concretely and more clearly manifest the Unity of the Churches that make up more than ever today an imperative for the Middle East. With respect for the ecclesiological differences, the Churches must always be together, to plan together and to work together.
2. Mutual respect and reciprocal understanding constitute the basis for dialogue and Islamic-Christian co-existence. To deepen co-existence with Islam while remaining faithful to their Christian mission and identity.
3. Christian witness is also the vocation of the Church. To relaunch and promote Christian education, spiritual renewal and the diakonia, internal evangelization and the transmission of Christian values to the young, active participation with the laity in the life and vocation of the Church is considered as a priority.
4. To underline the importance of institutional ecumenical cooperation as well as bilateral theological dialogue. The reform and the reorganization of the Council of Churches of the Middle East, today, constitutes a major priority to which the Church members are already promised.
This synod is considered, in a certain way, by his Holiness Aram 1st as the synod of all the churches of the Middle East, because we face the same conditions, we share the same problems and are faced with the same challenges. In consequence, we should concentrate collectively on the Christian presence and witness in the Middle East and consecrate ourselves all together to reorganize and renew our commitment and our mission.

[00150-02.03] [DF006] [Original text: French]

- H. Exc. Michael LANGRISH, Bishop of Exeter (UNITED KINGDOM)

I bring Greetings from His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury. We are mindful of the emigration of Christians in much of the Middle East and of the circumstances which can make it difficult for them to remain and flourish. This is a situation about which there is too much ignorance among Christians in the West. Anglicans seek to play their part, alongside the historic churches of the Middle East in raising the awareness of governments and the media as well as their own members. We seek to join together in a prophetic re-engagement with the scriptures, assured of the hope and truth of the incarnate Word of God. These matters were discussed by the Archbishop and Holy Father during the recent Papal visit to the UK. Through study, prayer, advocacy, pilgrimage, and through drawing the Eastern Catholic Churches as fully into our ecumenical dialogue as our Orthodox brothers and sisters, we seek to grow in our ability, by God's grace, to hold fast, in the one body, to the one Lord by whom we are called and sanctified.

[00148-02.03] [DF004] [Original text: English]

- H. Em. Mar Gregoios Yohanna IBRAHIM, Metropolitan of Alep (SYRIA)

Message of the Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, General Secretary of the World Council of Churches.

It is an honor and a privilege far the Word Council of Churches to address your Venerable Synod meeting in a Special Assembly for the Middle East, which is a real opportunity to strengthen all Christians of the region, Eastern and Oriental Orthodox, Catholics and Evangelicals, in their presence and witness.
This has been the concern and the endeavor of the ecumenical family for the last years, because we all firmly believe that our Apostolic faith is rooted both in the place where the salvation events took place, and in the region from where the Good News was spread to the oikoumene (the whole inhabited world). At the same time, our faith is challenged by and maintained alive through our communion and solidarity with our sisters and brothers in the region. We know that our sisters and brothers continue to bear witness to that same faith, because God did not give “us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline” (2 Tim. 1:7). We see that this spirit is strengthening them in their steadfastness and hope, in their struggle for a just peace, for human dignity, freedom and equality in citizenship. Indeed, this spirit calls all of us for concrete actions as we accompany our member and sister churches in the region in the mission our Lord has entrusted them with.
The member churches of the WCC have c1early stated that, as Christians, we are called to pray and work for a just peace for Jerusalem, for all peoples living in it and in the whole region. We know that Jerusalem has a special significance for all, and we know that the present Israeli-Palestine conflict has real negative implications on the whole region and much far beyond. We also believe that a just peace for Jerusalem in the future could have a great positive impact, also on the churches and their presence and witness in the region.
Already in June 2007, the WCC convened an international ecumenical peace conference in Amman, where together, the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem called out to their brothers and sisters in Christ with this urgent plea:
“Enough is enough. No more words without deeds. It is time for action.” We, Churches and ecumenical partners from all over the world, promised them that “together we will act and pray and speak and work and risk reputations and lives to build with you bridges for an enduring peace among the peoples of this tortured and beautiful place to end these decades of injustice, humiliation and insecurity, to end the decades of living as refugees and under occupation. We will work with you to seek peace and pursue it. We have allowed too much time to pass. Time has not served the cause of peace but has served the cause of extremism. This is our urgent cause that cannot wait”.
During my very recent visit to Jerusalem, I was again urged by the Heads of local Churches to advocate for an end to the occupation that will bring justice and peace far the benefit of both Palestinians and Israelis and restore their human dignity. This is the primary request we also heard from the Palestinian Christians who are challenging us with their “word of faith, hope and love” from the heart of their suffering. Their “Kairos” document brings hope where no worldly hope is expected. It expresses their faith in a God who equally loves all the peoples in the land. It calls for a resistance rooted in the logic of love that seeks and engage the humanity of the occupier.
Your Venerable Synod represents a unique God-given opportunity to amplify the unified call of the Catholic Church and make it heard so that it brings justice and peace to all.The Synod is raising unprecedented great expectations for all Christians in the Middle East, especially for Iraq is and Palestinians, who are under serious tribulations. In fact, all Christians in the region, need to renew their ecumenical commitments and revive the privileged instrument for that, which is the Middle East Council of Churches.
Now is the time for actions together. For us, Christians, these should be based on three fundamental imperatives: An ethical and theological imperative for a Just Peace, an ecumenical imperative for unity in action and the Gospel imperative far costly solidarity and love of all our neighbors.
Let us act together and unite in our sincere call to the concerned governments in the region and worldwide so that a genuine everlasting just peace will prevail in the whole region.
Let us pray and act together so that Christians in the Middle East continue to be “the salt of the earth” (Mt. 5: 13) and “the light of the world” (Mt. 5: 14).
Let us accompany the Churches of the region in their transforming role in their societies.
Let us pray and act together to strengthen their common presence and witness.
May God our Father bless you and your Synod. May His Son, our common Lord Jesus Christ, guide you and enlighten your minds and steps during your deliberations. May the Holy Spirit strengthen you and keep you and your particular Churches in the love of the Father.

[00152-02.02] [DF008] [Original text: English]

- H. B. Mar Gewargis SLIWA, Metropolitan of Baghdad and Iraq (IRAQ)

I am glad to bring to you the greetings and prayers of our Patriarch His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV.
All the Christians in the Middle East and especially Iraqi Christian citizens have heard about these meetings. All of them consider that this is a spiritual and holy gathering and believe that whatever and whenever we ask God for their safety and happiness will be given. Thus, I think that these meetings will have great responsibility on us if nothing of what they expect has been achieved and we should be aware that their faith and their depend on the church might be affected.
Let us all with our different beautiful and holy gardens, work together friendly, brotherly and spiritually to continue watering the roots of Christianity on this our land and to rescue our world from different fearful disasters, and to live respectfully and friendly with other believers in our Almighty God wherever we live and in which country we live as good and respected citizens and to be good neighbors to those who are in need.
All the peoples of the world, all the governments, and all the church and humanitarian organizations, all over the world, know what is going on in Iraq and realize clearly the unexpected circumstances and horrible situations that are facing the Iraqi people in general, especially the Iraqi Christians since the invasion of April 2003.
The problems and sufferings of Christians in Iraq are different from those of other Christians in the Middle East countries.
We should look for and study so as to know the reasons that caused such unexpected and horrible circumstances and to recognize who is behind all this so that this conference will find the solution to put an end to what is going on in our country and to stop the Iraqi Christian citizens of thinking of fleeing the country.
The situation needs quick, wise and urgent steps and actions. Otherwise the tired and suffered Iraqi Christian citizen will depend no more and will have no hope in such meetings and will say: “Till when shall wait” and then prepare to flee his cradle of civilization and Christianity.
I take this important gathering as an opportunity to ask you, my dear brothers and sisters, according to your positions and responsibilities, to urge the international humanitarian and political organizations, to save Iraqi people in general from this destruction and to create the peaceful circumstances that will keep the existence of Christians in the country. This will help to stop the Christians' migration and will give no more headaches to those foreign west governments whether to accept these immigrants or not.
I wish this blessed gathering a very successful and fruitful outcome so as to strengthen the faith and hope of our believers in the holy church.

[00151-02.02] [DF007] [Original text: English]


Then the Following Synod Fathers intervened:

- H. Em. Card. Jean-Louis TAURAN, President of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue (VATICAN CITY)
- 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)
- H. Exc. Mons. Riccardo FONTANA, Archbishop of Arezzo-Cortona-San Sepolcro (ITALY)
- H. Exc. Mons. Joseph KHOURY, Bishop of Saint-Maron de Montréal of the Maronites (CANADA)
- H. Exc. Mons. Joseph KALLAS, S.M.S.P., Archbishop of Beirut and Jbeil of the Greek-Melkites (LEBANON)
- H. Exc. Mons. Patrick Altham KELLY, Archbishop of Liverpool, Representative of the Bishops' Conferences for International Coordination of support of the Roman Catholic Church in the Holy Land (GREAT BRITAIN (ENGLAND AND WALES)
- H. Exc. Mons. Thomas OSMAN, O.F.M. Cap., Bishop of Barentu (ERITREA)
- Archmandrite Jean FARAJ, B.S., Superior General of the Basilian Order of the Most Holy Saviour of the Melkites (UNION OF THE SUPERIOR GENERAL)
- H. Exc. Mons. Giuseppe NAZZARO, O.F.M., Titular Bishop of Forma, Apostolic Vicar of Alep (SYRIA)

The summaries of the interventions are published below:

- H. Em. Card. Jean-Louis TAURAN, President of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue (VATICAN CITY)

The Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops represents a chance and a challenge!
A chance, because it should lead to better understanding:
- that the unresolved conflicts in the region are not caused by religious reasons, testifying to this is the presence among us of representatives of Judaism and of Islam;
- the urgency for a three-way reflection (Jews, Christians and Muslims) on the place of religions in the Middle Eastern societies.
A challenge, to supply to Middle Eastern Christians concrete orientations:
- let us not be shy in reclaiming not only freedom of worship, but also religious freedom: society and State should neither fore a person to act against their conscience, nor hinder them from acting according to their conscience
- invest more in schools and universities followed by Christians and Muslims: they are indispensable laboratories of co-existence.- Let us ask ourselves if we are doing enough, on the level of local Churches to encourage our Christians to stay: housing, tuition, healthcare. We cannot expect everything from others...
A suggestion
The promotion of Arab-Christian literature could play a role in the dialogue between Christians and Muslims, especially in its cultural dimension (no. 96), we should at least teach this in our schools, in parallel with Arabic literature.

[00159-02.02] [IN105] [Original text: French]

- 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)

1.Formation is absolutely the greatest need of the Church in the Middle East. Training is the pastoral priority the Special Synod for the Middle East should choose. Certainly the Middle East has a strong attachment to Christian faith. But this is hereditary, social and confessional. In order to make our faith more personal, challenging and alive, we need a historical cultural intercession of the faith.
2. I am convinced that the best way for this pastoral faith and church operation is the traditional and ever new: See, judge, act. To see the reality, changes and “signs of the times”; to judge the reality in the light of the Word of God and faith and discern properly: finally bring it to life by planning some lines of action and commitment. It is the way of Gospel, of the Incarnation, the path of Emmaus, of the tradition of the Church especially the Eastern Church, of Vatican II and, indeed, even of our Instrumentum Laboris.
3. Is this really an effective method? Yes, historically and currently. In the seventh and eighth centuries, churches of the East were saved because they were able to make this great cultural and historical mediation of the faith. This mediation literally saved the Christian presence in the Middle East, while it has disappeared in other countries. This mediation has given us the "Arab Christian theology," a priceless heritage of the Church in the East. Currently, in the Holy Land all the Catholic Churches have made another great cultural mediation and have experienced a pastoral diocesan Synod that has literally brightened and renewed our faith, and given us a mutual "General pastoral plan", for this time.
4. Being this the best method in times of novelty and change, the cultural mediation of faith is the best way for our condition in Israel where there are two great historical novelties for the Church:
a) An Arab-Palestinian Arab minority living in a Jewish majority;
b) the birth of a “Hebrew-speaking Catholic community. "

[00138-02.03] [IN097] [Original text: Italian]

- H. Exc. Mons. Riccardo FONTANA, Archbishop of Arezzo-Cortona-San Sepolcro (ITALY)

I wish to express my thanks to the Holy Father who, in calling me to this Synod, has allowed me to take part in this precious aspect of Church life.
I have the honor of bringing to this assembly the greetings and spiritual nearness of the Italian Bishops. I love to refer in particular to numbers 54 and 59 of the Instrumentum Laboris and the reflection of paragraph A, second part, of the beautiful Relatio ante disceptationem.There really is a great attention paid in our Italian Churches to the holy places. In the first six months alone of 2010, 1,600,000 pilgrims went to Palestine. In the name of my brother Bishops, I come to say to the Synod that we receive more in terms of spiritual life and the search for faith in favor of our pilgrims than we manage to give in terms of our solidarity.
Alongside traditional pilgrimages it is becoming increasingly common to go to the Holy Land in search of the Apostolica vivendi forma.
Great attention is paid in the Italian Church to the real suffering of the Palestinian people and that silent portion of Israeli Jews who do not accept, in the name of security, those discriminatory situations that unleash terrorism and violence.
The absolute poverty of Christians in the Holy Land and the Middle East has led to the birth in Italy of an ever-increasing number of charity projects. By way of an example, in the first five years of the Millennium, the Italian Bishops’ Conference financed projects in the area for over 25 million euros. To these must be added those of the religious institutes and the single dioceses.
We need to do more. We are repeatedly told that a large number of the decisions that might help the Churches of the Middle East are taken in the West. The Holy See with its diplomatic channels, we Bishops with the possibility to influence public opinion, could point out to our respective governments that Jerusalem and the various forms of Christianity in the Middle East are absolute priorities for all Christians. Among the fruits of this Synod we hope that the Western Churches will learn to what extent the Eastern Churches suffer. Letting something be known is the first step to finding a solution. Publicizing and opinion-forming is possible in the West and very useful for the common good.

[00139-02.04] [1N098] [Original text: Italian]

- H. Exc. Mons. Joseph KHOURY, Bishop of Saint-Maron de Montréal of the Maronites (CANADA)

The Eparchy of Saint Maroun of Canada wishes, first of all, to express its thanks to His Holiness Benedict XVI for his solicitude towards Eastern Christians. This synod, that he wanted to consecrate to them, will lead to a deep reflection on today’s situation and on their future. It will call upon the conscience and responsibility of each Christian in the region and especially of the pastors and political and social leaders. Its work should also draw special attention from the intellectual elite and the managing classes of the Middle Eastern countries.
Eastern Christians have lived in their own homelands since the beginning of time. Witnesses of the first period of Christianity, the wealth of their spiritual and liturgical heritage is inestimable. Their contribution to all of Christianity, to the progress of each individual country and their contribution to cohabitation and dialogue no longer need to be demonstrated. Their openness to the East and to the West has made it a necessary path of unity for better mutual knowledge.
Attached to sincere and loyal dialogue with other religious families in the region and with respect for the differences, they have the right to live with dignity and serenity. They must be able to bear witness to their faith in complete freedom.
The fate of Eastern Christians will depend greatly on the evolution of dialogue with cultures and religions and in particular the relations between East and West. We would like to believe that in this global village which is what the world has become and where paradoxically fundamentalism and sectarianism have become more and more violent and intransigent, justice, cohabitation and the fundamental rights will always have their place.

[00140-02.03] [IN099] [Original text: French]

- H. Exc. Mons. Joseph KALLAS, S.M.S.P., Archbishop of Beirut and Jbeil of the Greek-Melkites (LEBANON)

The Christians of the Middle East have had a different fate from all other Christians in the world: never having had their own state, but belonging to their own linguistic families, they were always insecure because of persecution and oppression. Conditioned by the shock and supremacy of Islam, they found how to adapt to Muslim power and to contribute with it to the construction of Civilization. Under more or less oppressive laws of segregation for centuries, and sometimes living at the margin of their circle, they delved into their own spiritual theology as well as their human culture, becoming the interpreters of the Greeks for the Arabs, and by developing the sciences of astronomy, medicine and mathematics, etc...
This Christians in living the faith, and clinging to “know him and the power of his resurrection” (Phil 3:10), were caught up, despite themselves, in the battle of wits between theologians. Day by day, we discover that they are of the same faith as the Catholics and have always followed their pastors, successors of the Apostles. They should not be classed among the extremist theological currents, factors of heresy or schisms.
They are all united by faith lived in the action of every day, in the hope of salvation and fidelity to Christ. It is in this that they are united, and merit entering in the same communion. Their division is, in my opinion, a problem for institutional jurisdiction. We cannot apply the dogmatic or canonical rigor of the West to them, but rather the pastoral economy of Saint Paul.

[00141-02.04] [IN100] [Original text: French]

- H. Exc. Mons. Patrick Altham KELLY, Archbishop of Liverpool, Representative of the Bishops' Conferences for International Coordination of support of the Roman Catholic Church in the Holy Land (GREAT BRITAIN (ENGLAND AND WALES)

At the opening of the Synod, the Holy Father shared with us the inspiration and guidance given to this Synod by the teaching of the Council of Ephesus in the year 451: Mary Theotokos, Mary Mother of God.
This conviction, guaranteed by the Holy Spirit, demanded new ways of thinking. The encounter with the events of the Person, who is the Word made flesh, shattered previous forms of observing, understanding, judging and deciding.
The specific concerns emerging in this Synod may be more securely recognized, more coherently understood, more soundly judged, and so lead to more wholesome actions by recalling the teaching of the Council of Chalcedon in 451.

[00142-02.02] [IN101] [Original text: English]

- H. Exc. Mons. Thomas OSMAN, O.F.M. Cap., Bishop of Barentu (ERITREA)

We too live in an extremely difficult situation because of a complex interweaving of problems and environmental, economic and political emergencies. The experience of fraternal communion which we are able to live in these days gathered around the Holy Father, is undoubtedly a gift of the Consoling Spirit for all our communities in Eritrea.
The presence of an African Church like ours, Ethio-Eritrean, in the context of a Synod on the “Catholic Church in the Middle East” stands out for many reasons. Geographically we are at a crossroad between Africa and Asia and, for this reason, our area has been for millennia the site of fruitful meetings between peoples, cultures and religions from the two sides of the Red Sea.
The Semite cultural component, which came to unite with the pre-existing Nile-Saharan and Kushite in pre-Christian and early Christian times, constituted the terrain into which the preaching of the Gospel was grafted along with the totality of the Judaic-Christian traditions that form part of the model of Christianity that developed in our territory. This was not simply a transposition of cultural models, but a real inculturating symbiosis that allowed Christianity, as recognized by the Synod of Bishops for Africa in 1994, to take root in the “mens” and cultural humus of our people. A constitutive part of this symbiosis were the liturgical, spiritual-monastic and literary traditions originally borrowed from the Coptic and Syriac Churches, and then developed for themselves through the many centuries of isolation of our country after the fall of the Kingdom of Aksum, and which bore fecund fruits in the interior lives of the Christian communities and the spread of the Gospel.
We are convinced that today too our region can and must continue to carry out its mission as a “bridge” for bringing together Africa and the Middle East in an enriching exchange of spiritual and cultural values, experiences and meetings, as is happening at this Synod. This could be facilitated by, among other things, the institution, possibly to be realized through the mediation of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, of cultural structures and formal and informal means of study, meeting and reflection. This would allow us to propose again together an efficacious testimony of the “unity of hearts and souls” in facing the threat of the lack of peace and the variety of destructive forces that hang over our continents.
The possibility of making the two areas of the Red Sea into a laboratory for peace and intercultural and inter-religious dialogue will in fact depend on the ability of our Christian communities to lay the foundations for a formal diplomacy, that diplomacy of the spirit and heart which is, above all a gift of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, the Spirit of peace and love.

[00143-02.02] [IN102] [Original text: Italian]

- Archmandrite Jean FARAJ, B.S., Superior General of the Basilian Order of the Most Holy Saviour of the Melkites (UNION OF THE SUPERIOR GENERAL)

I am happy to tell you about our small experience in the Basilian Order of the Holy Savior, whose mother house, 300 years old, is located at Chouf in a region known for its confessional plurality (Druze, Muslim and Christian). Here, in a few words, are the principles that inspired our action:
- To love: Love for others, while different, opened many closed doors for us, and has guaranteed our continuity for 300 years.
- To forgive: 6 times in our history, we were pillaged, sacked, bombed and displaced from our convents, parishes and our region. More than 25 priests and religious persons were cruelly martyred. To forgive, also, seems to be the only way for us to continue and last.
To believe: We are the Ambassadors of Christ where we were sown. Our faith in our Lord teaches us to live, not for ourselves, but for others. Our mission is to accept others, as they are, and above all accept the Cross which is the sign of our salvation.
To witness: The style of life is more eloquent than speeches. The peoples, of all nationalities and religions, feel attracted by the Saints. They come to pray and to ask for our help. Our convent, just like yours, is a place that attracts people who are looking for peace and Divine intercession. Therefore, the example is the guarantee of the success and of continuity.
- To teach: Our main duty is to teach the new generation openness, love, acceptance of others, and even more so, to go all the way to see the image of God in each human being, and to teach youths in discovering this image in themselves and in others. I could even say that we were created by some of our other brother and sisters religions: they taught us faithfulness, generosity, devotion and respect...
I would like to conclude by saying that, if the Church of the Near East lives very difficult, even dramatic situations, she is privileged in living the mystery of the Cross, thus participating in Christ’s suffering, which will lead her to resurrection.

[00144-02.02] [IN103] [Original text: French]

- H. Exc. Mons. Giuseppe NAZZARO, O.F.M., Titular Bishop of Forma, Apostolic Vicar of Alep (SYRIA)

The Apostolic Vicariate of Aleppo takes pastoral care of the Latin rite faithful who live in the Arab Republic of Syria. The origins of these faithful go back to the time of the Italian maritime republics: Venice, Genoa, Pisa and Amalfi. The merchants of these republics had established in Aleppo, a strategic city on the Silk Route that led to the Far East, their commercial emporia, and over time they settled there permanently. The Franciscans, present in Aleppo since far-off 1238, looked after them spiritually.
Today the faithful of the Latin rite in Syrian territory number about 12,000. To these can be added just as many foreign faithful in the various embassies, technicians and workers of various categories.
There are 40 or so priests in the Vicariate of Aleppo, the majority of whom are Friars Minor for the Custody of the Holy Land who take pastoral care of the faithful in a special way.
We have the grace of having in the Vicariate two monasteries of contemplative religious (the convent of the Carmelite sisters in Aleppo) and the monastery of the Cistercian nuns of strict observance (better known as Trappists) that has only been open for a couple of months in the area of Azeir (Talkalakh). To these can be added another 80 religious belonging to 12 different congregations who mostly provide their service and assistance in the parishes of the different Eastern Churches in the territory.
The Apostolic Vicariate intends serving the faithful of the Latin rite and at the same time offering a hand to all persons who ask to cooperate with it in the service of the whole Church in Syria and for the glory of God.
In this seat I wish to encourage the work carried out by the Assembly of the Catholic Hierarchy of Syria. However, I hope for greater collaboration; only if we are united, only if we manage to respect each other, will we give the Church in Syria the courage to accept the difficulties it will have to face.
The Church in Syria is made up of little communities, none of whom can feel bigger or stronger than the others. We are all in the same precarious position. This means that it is absolutely essential to walk hand in hand. We have to unite our forces and overcome our sectarian feelings to ensure that in the land that saw the birth of the faith of the Apostle Paul only the common good will prevail.

[00158-02.02] [IN104] [Original text: Italian]


Finally, the following Auditors intervened:

- Mr. Epiphan Bernard Z. SABELLA, Associate Professor of Sociology, Bethlehem University (PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES)
- Prof. Agostino BORROMEO, Governor-General of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem (ITALY)
- Mrs. Jocelyne KHOUEIRY, Founding member and President of the lay movement "La Libanaise-Femme di 31 May" (LEBANON)
- Mr. Joseph Boutros FARAH, President of "Caritas Internationalis" for the Middle East and North Africa (M.O.N.A.) (LEBANON)
- Mr. Tanios CHAHWAN, Member of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, President of the National Council for the Laity in Lebanon (LEBANON)
- Mr. Hanna ALMASSO, Member of the National Team of Leaders of the J.O.C. Dubai (UNITED ARAB EMIRATES)
- Rev. Mons. Michel AOUN, Episcopal Vicar of the Archieparchy of Beirut of the Maronites (LEBANON)
- Rev. Rino ROSSI, Director of the "Domus Galileae", Corazin (ISRAEL)
- Mr. Anton R. ASFAR, Council Member of the Syriac-Catholic Patriarchal Exarchate of Jerusalem (ISRAEL)
- Mr. Husam J. WAHHAB, President, Catholic Action of Bethlehem (PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES)
- Mrs. Anan J. LEWIS, Professor of Victorian and Modern English Poetry, English Department, University of Baghdad (IRAQ)

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

- Mr. Epiphan Bernard Z. SABELLA, Associate Professor of Sociology, Bethlehem University (PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES)

The model of the 12 disciples of Jesus who went out to preach the good news should be our model in the Churches of the Middle East. Their "plan of action" was the witness for the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. And so is our "plan of action" today. The Church in the Middle East is made up of a multitude with different rich traditions, liturgies and potentialities and together we are called to have a joint plan of action that speaks to:
1) Peacemaking in the region so as a just and lasting peace for the Arab- Israeli conflict would see a Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital living in peace with itself and with its neighbors. We also need to work for the peace within our societies.
2) The social, economic and cultural inequities which result in poverty, unemployment and despair to millions of our compatriots. We base our intervention on the social teachings of the Church and link up to efforts on the Millennial Development Goals of the UN. His Holiness Pope Benedict has warned us of idols, such as unrestrained capitalism with its profit motif. Our region is at the same time the richest and the poorest in the world.
3) Emigration and immigration: Attention is needed to particular groups especially highly educated and skilled youth who can compete for jobs on the world market and who are likely candidates to emigrate. We need them to invigorate the Church and we should work towards their involvement. At the same time, we should respect the human rights and dignity of immigrants who come to work in the Middle East.4) The vision of the future for our societies and region that is based on equal citizenship, similar opportunities, Human Rights and social justice.
The Churches need to provide a leadership model that is empowering to the Church communities themselves and to their societies. We should all go from here empowered by the Holy Father to develop strategies that would at the same time be of service to our Churches and respective Societies. The model of the first disciples should give us hope as well as the support of the Universal Church.

[00127-02.02] [UD010] [Original text: English]

- Prof. Agostino BORROMEO, Governor-General of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem (ITALY)

This intervention is focused on the theme of emigration (no.43-48 of the Instrumentum Laboris). It is apparent that the phenomenon of emigration in Middle Eastern countries is determined by factors which the Church itself cannot influence - as properly underlined in no. 44. In addition to the traditional aid to the Churches, one could nevertheless seek to put create new strategies for the betterment of living conditions for Christians.
I will cite some examples: 1) the construction of social housing; 2) the creation of medical clinics at locations far from hospital centers; 3) the concession of micro-credit, especially for financing activities that create new sources of income or increase those already being received; 4) the elaboration of a system of micro-insurance, with special reference to the health insurance sector; 5) contact with Western companies in order to verify whether they may be interested in transferring some stages of production processes to the Middle East.
Of course, these initiatives should be activated in close collaboration with the local ecclesiastical authorities and under the control of the individual Churches. Even if the results may be modest, they will still represent a concrete testimony to the closeness of Christians all around the world to the problems and sufferings of our brothers and sisters in the Middle East.

[00128-02.02] [UD011] [Original text: Italian]

- Mrs. Jocelyne KHOUEIRY, Founding member and President of the lay movement "La Libanaise-Femme di 31 May" (LEBANON)

I would like to pause on the notion of “presence” as mentioned in the conclusion of the lineamenta. As a Christian woman belonging to the Church in an Arab and Middle Eastern world, I believe that the quality of our presence as Christians greatly depends on the permanence of our existence before the Lord our Savior and before our brothers in this region. The conclusion of the text states that this presence could become important and a considerable factor in our behavior.
I think we are called upon to being (and not only to formulate) a real, human and cultural answer to all the questions posed by our generation. An answer that reflects the meaning of the new man and the sacred value of his life. We must give opportunities to women, children, couples, families and especially handicapped persons in our Church to be able to make a choice of life coherent with the Gospel and to discover their own mission within the Church and the Arab and Middle Eastern societies. I hope we can pay special attention on the moral, social and bio-ethical issues touching the essence of our witness especially because our society is not sheltered from the acts that harm the dignity of marriage, procreation and the human embryo. To integrate distant preparation to marriage and family values must be included in the priorities of our educational and pastoral programs to contribute to facing with conscience and responsibility the shifts in the consumer society which has invaded us despite the existential difficulties we are living. So that the Christian woman can express herself and bear witness to the beauty of faith and the true sense of dignity and freedom is also an urgent witness that calls upon the Muslim woman and opens new paths for dialogue. So that our families may be supported and accompanied by their church, mother and teacher, so that that may concretely and deliberately be the sanctuaries open to the gift of life especially when this last one is blessed by a handicap or socio-economic difficulties, not being a secondary factor when faced with the continuous threat of emigration. A conversion, on the level of our scale of values and our way of being, is very urgent. We are called upon to become like Mary, the servants of Hope in this region wounded and victim of so much injustice. And what blocks him from entrusting in him or even consecrating to him the Middle East threatened by so many fatal dangers?

[00129-02.02] [UD012] [Original text: French]

- Mr. Joseph Boutros FARAH, President of "Caritas Internationalis" for the Middle East and North Africa (M.O.N.A.) (LEBANON)

In the name of Caritas, I thank you for inviting me to this Synod, and I find it a clear expression of Peter’s Successors’ trust and appreciation in the social and pastoral work of Caritas entrusted to it by the Church. We hope that Caritas, which is actively present in all Middle Eastern countries, will be able to promote, develop and activate its mission, inspired by the Church’s social teachings through interaction, coordination and solidarity between all members from the whole world and with all the Church’s institutions so that the new evangelization may take place through work, leadership and good examples in order to establish justice and peace for all countries of the regions and their peoples.
Caritas carries this commitment with responsibility and honestly and humbly sees that the reason behind Christian emigration and the decrease in numbers in the Middle Eastern countries is:
1. The prevalent situation of conflict and war in the region for the past decades, particularly in Palestine and the Holy Land, it is a situation that constantly bears religious and confessional
dissensions, thus making Christians all over the region feel threatened and become concerned for their safety, worried about their future and their belief.
2. When Christians isolate themselves from others, because they are haunted by obsessions about their personal and their community being, they retreat from producing and developing , which worsens their economic and social situation leading them to emigration.
To deal with these two reasons seems very possible through hard work on the local and international levels to achieve peace between Israeli and Palestinians and Arabs by supporting international and civil efforts towards the dialogue of different cultures and civilizations and towards reconciliation. The Universal Church can contribute to these efforts which come originally from its dogma
Parallel to the direction of peace, it is necessary to operate development on the economic and social levels, for Christian individuals and communities, through intellectual and practical harmony with the concerned civil social organizations, a development that leads the universal and local Church, through a practical, integrated and comprehensive coordination between all its educational, health, social and developmental institutions, to revive true hope in the citizen and in communities, hope in a safe and healthy present and future that can satisfy aspirations.
Caritas pledges to remain in the forefront of service, like a pastoral and social instrument for the Church, acting in love under its guidance and teachings, through thousands of workers and volunteers in the Middle Eastern region, even through tens of thousands in the whole world, in the proper manner that stems from the culture of solidarity and communion and “dialogue of deeds”, to achieve reconciliation.
To establish peace, to promote development and to make social justice prevail for all citizens especially Christians, thus the Middle Eastern region goes back to its former era of fraternity and agreement, and Christians remain in their homelands, messengers of their culture, values, civilization and beliefs.

[00130-02.05] [INUD0] [Original text: Arabic]

- Mr. Tanios CHAHWAN, Member of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, President of the National Council for the Laity in Lebanon (LEBANON)

The formulation of modernity in the Arab Muslim world represents a problem at the same time tragic and complex: tragic because this formulation is touched by a major and complex handicap, in the fact that its understanding does not depend on just one factor, but on several, of an endogenous and exogenous nature, which overlap and are interdependent. They operate from a well-determined content and become visible, in the framework of a complex dynamic, through the ways of action and reaction.
In effect, the movement of history between Islam and the West is a pendular movement of flux and reflux. In the wake of historical stages, these factors - which are historical, ideological, religious, social, psychological, psycho-social and cultural - were formed and were amplified on one side and the other...
About the endogenous factors, I consider:
- “The Arabs’ view of their past, multifaceted up to now, which tends to be represented as a healthy screen against cultural drifting”.
- The glorification of history.
- The Arabs’ inferiority complex regarding the West.
- The Palestinian cause.
- The conflict about Islam between those of Islam.
- The holy in Islam.
- The relation of Islam to Patrimony.
As for the exogenous, I distinguish:
- “The speech of the West on Arabic Muslim values, sometimes ambiguous but often hostile”.
- The Promethean complex of the West.
- The West’s fear for its decline.
- The covetousness of the West in the Arab Muslim world.
This Synod Assembly is called upon to help Eastern Christians to commit once again with their fellow citizens and to contribute answers of hope, that favor the development of a dynamic process of renewal and renaissance of Arabicity, which would foresee:
- the understanding and apprehension of the social reality of the Arab world in view of its transformation;
- cultural reconciliation between East and West with a view to making less fatal the logic of conflict and opposition between them which is often preached through the logic of history’s movements.

[00135-02.02] [UD015] [Original text: French]

- Mr. Hanna ALMASSO, Member of the National Team of Leaders of the J.O.C. Dubai (UNITED ARAB EMIRATES)

Allow me to take you back in time to look at the work and history of the hoped to be Doctor of the Church, Cardinal Joseph Cardijn. He successfully managed to link the working youth living in the midst of the industrial revolution to the message of our faith and into our churches
and communities through his method of "See-Judge-Act" used in the Review of Life and for Action Campaigns. Through this method young workers learn to evolve their whole lives by the light of the Gospel and become committed to act and start to build the kingdom here on earth. These formed young leaders reach out and become Catechists to other young people, which is exactly what is needed today and is written in the Instrumentum Laboris paragraphs 53, 62 and 108.The working circumstances in the Middle East, due to the technical revolution, may have changed many peoples way of working but the shape and the heart of the youth today remains the same and many of the underlying problems have not disappeared from our societies. They are in need of the same spirituality to keep them close to Christ and to help them see that the church is there to support them.
Cardijn's methods are available today in many Middle East countries through the work of many Catholic organizations like CIJOC, however, as we know from experience and as recommended in paragraphs 21 and 22 of the Instrumentum Laboris, these lay movements need to be supported and encouraged by all available means. We request the continued and increased support of the Church to assist all lay movements as here lies the promise of unity for the Middle East Churches through the work of the young people themselves.

[00134-02.02] [UD014] [Original text: English]

- Rev. Mons. Michel AOUN, Episcopal Vicar of the Archieparchy of Beirut of the Maronites (LEBANON)

I firmly believe that this Synod could give an answer to our faithful’s expectations if it proposes strong pastoral programs for adults, which can lead our Christians to a mature faith, and which can help families in being the first school of faith.
It is true that every man needs security on all levels, but he cannot attach himself to his land if he does not have a sublime cause tied to his faith and to his existence as a Christian.
We often speak about the first community where we clearly see the united body which is none other than the mystical body of Jesus. Is it no longer possible today to favor the pastoral care that could help our faithful in understanding themselves as members of this unique body and where they could follow a path of faith based on the Word of God and the sacraments and experience the fraternal spirit between themselves?
The Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI never ceases to encourage the charisms that the Holy Spirit incites in the new ecclesial communities where the fruits are borne. Sometimes it is argued that these communities risk creating some division in a particular diocesan or parish body. Faced with this objection, I submit that communion is the condition for all pastoral success. Bishops and priests are first of all the guarantors of communion, and in the name of this communion, I would like this Synod to encourage a discernment of the fruits that these charisms bring to the Church and welcome them like a new springtime. This welcome should be in a paternal spirit and one of communion to help the faithful of these communities to integrate into the diocesan and parish ministry, to feel as fully active members of the one Body of Christ present in the particular Church.

[00154-02.02] [UD016] [Original text: French]

- Rev. Rino ROSSI, Director of the "Domus Galileae", Corazin (ISRAEL)

In the first chapter of the Instrumentum Laboris, speaking about apostolicity and missionary vocation, it says: “In being apostolic, our Churches have a special mission to bring the Gospel to the whole world”. I am a presbyter of the Diocese of Rome on a mission at the Domus Galilaeae International Center which is found on the upper part of the Mount of Beatitudes.
With the seminarians and young people who operate in our center, we have visited very many Christian families of the various rites of the Holy Land, Jordan and Cyprus. We came across so much suffering, the same problems that are found in the Church in other parts of the world: the crisis in so many families, the abandonment by young people of religious practices, the problem of abortion, being closed to life, gambling which destroys entire families, the dream of being able to go abroad to have an easier life. Not to mention drugs, pornography, the spread of sects.
When the Domus Galilaeae opened, a large number of Jews started visiting us. In the last year alone, more than a hundred thousand came. They are drawn by the welcome and the beauty of the house. Many of them do not know the Church or Jesus Christ. They ask us many questions about our faith. Very often they come back. We feel we have to welcome them and serve them as brothers.
I think that the Holy Spirit whom we invoked at the start of this Synod loves our faithful with an immense love and wants to save them from the attacks of the devil who seduces them, as only he knows how to do. He is the true enemy. But Christ has power over him and he gave this power to the Church, to you pastors. We have an enormous responsibility to the lost sheep of our parishes. Woe is me if I do not evangelize them! The Oriental Fathers in the first centuries, faced by the challenges of their time, in a pagan world, elaborated an itinerary for Christian initiation: the Catechumenate. The Church like a mother, in a slow journey with stages, handles eternal life for her children. Today we have to offer to our Christians a Catechumenate that is suited to their condition of being baptized.
The pastors of the Holy Land are aware of the challenges that await us today, and I can also bear witness to this with the initiative of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem who, in communion with the Greek-Melchite and Maronite archbishops, opened a missionary seminary Redemptoris Mater, to prepare missionary presbyters for the new Evangelization.

[00155-02.02] [UD017] [Original text: Italian]

- Mr. Anton R. ASFAR, Council Member of the Syriac-Catholic Patriarchal Exarchate of Jerusalem (ISRAEL)

To be a Christian living in the Middle East is a great honor, a vocation and a witness of the presence of Christ for all Christians. God gave us the grace of living in the Holy Land; this implies great wisdom which for some is obvious, whereas some others cannot understand or interpret it. We, the Christians of the Holy Land, live in an atmosphere that cannot be experienced in any other country of the world. It is an environment made up of religious pluralism, on one hand Christians, Muslims and Jews, on the other Arabs and Israelis. Those who say that we cannot live or co-exist in this environment should leave this land, because they are not worthy of being witnesses of Christ. Yes, we can live in this holy space of land, because where there is suffering, there is life and witness. As one of the Fathers said one day, we can find a laboratory of cohabitation, and if we can achieve this, the world can too.
Christian youth in the Holy Land is a youth capable of effectively building society, but it needs continuous and permanent support from the local and universal Church. The Christian youths in the Holy Land really appreciate what the Church does to support their existence and appurtenance in this land.
The Catholic Church in the Holy Land has acted and will always act to ease the suffering of the Christians in the Holy Land by assuring them at the same time of institutions in the areas of education and healthcare, as well as the pastoral, housing and programs for development. Now, despite all its effectiveness, all these programs and projects aim at confirming Christians in the Holy Land, the Church does not have the enough means to be able to change the reality that the Israeli authorities impose such as modifying the lay of the land, especially in Jerusalem. Here, I would like to thank His Eminence Card. Foley for having realized this question and for the attention he dedicates to it. In his brief speech, he stated: “The infrastructures controlled by the Israelis make this difficult”. Land in the region of Jerusalem is greatly reduced and many are threatened with expropriation and sale, but the Church doesn’t have the means to buy this land which is offered to it every day. This reduces the occasions of assuring the future generations of the possibility of living and confirming their presence in Jerusalem. The whole world highly appreciates what the Latin Patriarchate and the Custos of the Holy Land do with regards to this, in trying to conserve its sacred identity, and what other Churches have done, but the numbers talk of a great demand for housing in Jerusalem by Christians. This discourages our young persons and increases their duties, especially economic, and thus pushes them to have less children. In fact, recently we can see a decrease in the number of children in Christian families.
Excellencies, here are some hopes:
1. To create a bank for the Holy See which would be called Bank for the support of Christian presence in the Holy Land, which would be available to the Council of Catholic Bishops in the Holy Land, and which would entail several particular mechanisms to achieve the following objectives:
a) buying a large number of plots in the region of Jerusalem, in particular, and Bethlehem in general, because of the sacred meaning in these two places and the need to safeguard the Christian presence;
b) to encourage young persons to marry, ensuring them with a first support to form a Christian family;
c) ensure the greatest number of housing units.
2. To diminish the economic burden that weighs upon the believers in the two regions of Jerusalem and Bethlehem, make it so that Christians that live in these two regions are exonerated of any scholastic or university fees, which would reinforce their presence in the region and would encourage them to have more children.
I would like to thank His Holiness the Pope for having invited me to this living and vital Synod for our region and I would also like to thank those that constitute it.

[00156-02.02] [UD018] [Original text: Arabic]

- Mr. Husam J. WAHHAB, President, Catholic Action of Bethlehem (PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES)

As a Christian witness in the Holy Land, I see that the Christian presence in the Holy Land is essential and gives life to the holy places. With this presence, we are facing many difficulties that put the Christian presence on the stake. Part of these difficulties is the church division, emigration, isolation, political instability, and occupation.
Beside the church division and emigration we should be careful to the dangerous of the possible elimination of the Palestinian Christian from his society. Therefore, our preoccupation with this question aims in the first instance to avoid the any self preoccupation and isolation so that the Palestinian Christian will not feel unjustly treated. Accordingly, we seek to stand by him in order
to work and to feel that he is all part of his society.
The concept of separation between religion and state in the Middle East does not exist since many of the laws and regulations are inspired by religion. Our efforts should be concentrated to influence regulators to respect the privacy of the Christian citizens in the society.
The Christian society appreciates the work of the church over the past years and the continuous support of the local Christian institutions. In addition, the surrounding Arab society do highly appreciate the presence of Christian institutes especially Catholic Schools, Bethlehem University, hospitals which builds bridges of understanding and respect between the Muslims and Christians that creates a mutual respect between each another.
Bishops, priests, and lay people should work towards creating an atmosphere that promotes a culture of peace and justice. This atmosphere of peace and justice will encourage the future generation of young people to stay in their own lands.
It is vital to the Church to work with lay people in the field of formation, especially with children and youth toward unity with all vocations to grow together in communion. In this perspective the Catholic Action and other kinds of institutions are helpful to work by the help of lay people and church in order to promote unity and feeling of internal peace. Church should open avenues of international relationships with other world churches and communities to promote pilgrimage to the holy land that creates more solidarity towards the Christian presence.
Our goal is to continue our presence in the Middle East and develop our programs in a way that attracts more and more people to be witnesses to our Lord Jesus and to Spread the Word of God in our community and to live our Christian life in pride in order to be a living example to our future generation.

[00157-02.02] [UD019] [Original text: English]

- Mrs. Anan J. LEWIS, Professor of Victorian and Modern English Poetry, English Department, University of Baghdad (IRAQ)

Speaking as a consecrated virgin (Ordo Virginum) in Iraq, university professor and director of the youth in the Latin Church, representing the lay people of Iraq, I would 1ike to emphasize that besides security and political and social stability, nothing can give reasons for Iraqi Christians to stay and be deeply rooted to their land and faith unless sincere spiritual and pastoral care is initiated on the part of the fathers of the Church. Iraqi Christians are now in urgent need to be fed with love and embraced by the spiritual support of well-trained and loving priests. Neither Sunday homilies nor Friday Catechist classes for children are enough to encourage lay people to stay. Instead of raising funds to renovate chapels or buy empty buildings, or decorate gates, let us build living stones and establish small projects for the youth of both genders to discover their crafty and professional skills. Holding meetings on regular basis for them and their families, enlightening them about their sacred role as consecrated lay people in Iraq is equally crucia1; otherwise, criticizing Protestant groups for tempting Catholics to leave their faith will be futile. And if all this sounds fanciful, paying them a visit might be helpful!
However, Iraqi lay Christians are aware that the Church is showing genuine efforts to deepen their faith and improve their social and economic situation within its capacity. They also know that this burden does not only lie on the Church's shoulders; the Iraqi government and the international community share lots of this burden, yet remain silent. Hence, living as an Iraqi Christian in the midst of severe conditions where every minute of safety counts. Nonetheless, Christian laity, specially those who have always been conscious to the importance of witnessing to their faith whether in time of peace or war, are persistent to be authentic witnesses, reinforcing their communion with the Church of which they are an integral part. Their role, which is becoming at times more influential than that of the clergy is embodied in helping the poor and the sick, organizing spiritual and social activities for elder and young people, establishing groups of prayers, teams of social and health services for those in need, as we have in the several Caritas programs, or helping their parish priests in the fields of Catechist teaching or liturgy. Such dedicated Christian men and women in Iraq are aware that their role is irreplaceable; though always in the face of death where every minute of safety counts, they are contributing to the fabric of the Iraqi society, endeavoring to work on behalf of all Christians who are dislocated, segregated, or shaken in faith, e1'eating a feeling of love and peaceful coexistence among Iraqis regardless of the religion or gender.

[00160-02.02] [UD020] [Original text: English]


To close the Congregation H.B. Em. Card Emmanuel III DELLY, Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans (IRAQ), President Delegate ad Honorem, spoke and thanked all those who have shown their sympathy towards Iraq, cradle of the Christian Chaldean Church, and in general of the Western Churches of the Persian area. The Patriarch emphasized how 78% of the Mesopotamian Chrstians are Catholic Chaldeans who live peacefully together with the Muslims of the area. Despite the political situation and marginalization, the Patriarch emphasized how in the country there is religious freedom, respect to the hierarchies and esteem for the institutions and the ecclesiastic works.


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