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10-24 OCTOBER 2010

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

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

English Edition


21 - 21.10.2010






At the Twelfth General Congregation the following Fraternal Delegates intervened, whose speeches were received after the close of the previous Bulletin:

- H. Em. Emmanuel ADAMAKIS, Metropolitan of France (FRANCE)
- H. G. Munib YOUNAN, Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and The Holy Land, President of the World Lutheran Federation (ISRAEL)

The summaries of the interventions of Fraternal Delegates are published below:

- H. Em. Emmanuel ADAMAKIS, Metropolitan of France (FRANCE)

His Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has requested me to pass on to you, on behalf of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and sister Church, all his wishes for a positive outcome, during these days, for the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East.
The Middle East attracts and fascinates. It is owned by everyone and does not suffer from exclusivity. The Holy Land, it is even more holy to us Christians, because it is in this region of the world that it pleased God to make us the most incredible of promises, that of the Resurrection. This land, the first witness through the ages of the saving act of Christ, plays but part of what the philosopher Pascal described as its agony through the ages. Indeed, the present never ceases to remind us of the divisions, separations, and the daily suffering to which some parts of the population are subjected, Christians first of all, in the region.
We cannot but congratulate ourselves on holding this Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops devoted to the Middle East. The world expects from this meeting a strong message, which will propose concrete actions. This is not just the responsibility of the Catholic Church as the organizer of this Synod, but also of each of the participating Churches as “fraternal Delegates”, aside from our differences, which were explicitly invited to take an active part in the discussion.
Therefore, we wish to emphasize two facts which seem essential.The first is the progressive disappearance of Christianity in the Middle East. How can the presence of Christians continue in the region taking into account our bilateral dialogues? The working document of the Synod, the Instrumentum laboris, remember, was made public by Pope Benedict XVI on the occasion of his official visit to Cyprus in June 2010. So this is a sign not only directed to the Eastern Catholics, but also to the Orthodox Church and its faithful. In this regard, it is worth recalling the importance of the Orthodox presence within Eastern societies. Thus, the place for pluralism must be able to advance our various initiatives for dialogue and be able to bring about as much cooperation as is needed and useful for the sake of a growing and efficient transmission of the Gospel witness. In fact, emphasizing the good relations that our Churches maintain today, the tangible hope of a future unity will have a catalyzing effect. A union would ensure the continuation of the Christian presence locally.
Secondly, we would like to offer a clarification particularly on our ability to dialogue with other religious elements in the region and in particular with our Muslim and Jewish brothers. The increasing number of initiatives that, up until today, inter-religious dialogue has brought to the fore should not make us lose sight of the fact that institutional initiatives are not relevant if all of society does not invest in the need to live together in peace. The Middle East, in fact, must abandon the thesis of a clash of civilizations. Yes, living together is possible, in ways that will not be dictated by others, but by those who live there day after day. They are “the salt of the earth”. Now, the first inalienable condition for any co-existence remains a guarantee of religious freedom for all. Only on this basis, relations between religions, peoples and cultures will be able to encourage the emergence of what Levi-Strauss called “the coexistence of cultures that have between them the greatest diversity”.
Finally, we hope that this Synod will strengthen the bonds that unite all Christians in the region, with clarity, courage and love. But also that, while avoiding any excessive paternalism toward Christians of the East, we also know that we place ourselves in the school of their reality. It is therefore our duty, not to say our responsibility, that this Synod will not be added to the long list of meetings without a future, at least out of respect for those who suffer and out of commitment to our faith.
We pray that the Lord will inspire all participants at this meeting and that, in peace, He will grant that the “whole group of believers was united, heart and soul” (Acts 4:32).

[00205-02.03] [DF011] [Original text: French]

- H. G. Munib YOUNAN, Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and The Holy Land, President of the World Lutheran Federation (ISRAEL)

[Ephesians 4:1-6 I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.]

Your Holiness, your eminences, your excellencies, I bring greetings to you from Jerusalem, the city of our Lord' s suffering and death, the city of his resurrection and ascension, the city of Pentecost and the birth of the Church. The Apostle Paul calls us in Ephesians 4:3 to "make every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." And so I stand here "with all humility and gentleness" speaking to you about our common concerns for the body of Christ.
On October 21, 1999, in Augsburg, Germany we came together to sign the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification-a historical event that lifted former condemnations and set a course for our common future. It is good that the relationship between Lutherans and Catholics has developed in such a way and is still progressing. This past summer when the Lutheran World Federation met in Assembly in Stuttgart, Germany, our theme was "Give us today our daily bread." We share the same loaf, we share the same responsibility for a hungry world, hungry for spirituality and hungry for justice. We share this responsibility in securing food, eradicating poverty, and combating deadly diseases.
In particular I want to stress the good relationship between the ELCJHL and the Catholic Church in Palestine, Israel and Jordan. I am blessed to have collegial and fraternal relationships with all the Catholic Bishops and prelates in Jerusalem. This must continue for the welfare of our people and for a common witness.
I also offer a word of gratitude for your initiative in caring for Christians in the Middle East through this synod. The Middle East is the cradle of Christianity. It would be tragic if after two thousand years this witness were to vanish. I ask you: What would the Middle East be without Christians?
We share this common concern. However, I do not want to dwell on the problems. I will only mention three only briefly: the unstable political situation, the lack of jobs because of the economic situation, and the growth of extremism - both political and religious extremism - that unsettles the region and leads to emigration. For me the future of Christianity is dependent upon peace and justice in the Middle East. How can we together offer a living and dynamic witness? It is essential that we not concentrate only on a confessional witness, but that we speak with one voice in a common witness.
Our grassroots are expecting to see us acting together, witnessing together, living together, and loving together. For this reason, it is essential that we strengthen our ecumenical relations both in Israel-Palestine and in the whole Middle East.
How can we do this? First, the Middle East Council of Churches is the only body in the world which gathers the four families of churches: Catholic, Orthodox, Oriental, and Evangelical. We are currently not as walking vigorously as we should, but rather limping along. I appeal to you to help us revive this ecumenical framework where we all can work together.
Secondly, we have to act together in creating jobs, in providing safe and affordable housing, in improving schools, and in strengthening all Christian institutions because they serve everyone regardless of gender, ethnicity, politics or religion. Our Lutheran Schools, for example, educate an equal number of Christians and Muslims, boys and girls, side by side, creating a climate of mutual respect. This is our strength. We must continue our efforts so that Christians may remain steadfast in their own countries, as an integral part of the fabric of their own societies, working for the good of all.
Thirdly, the common witness of the Church - despite decreasing numbers - is essential for building a modern civil society, which is democratic, respectful of human rights, and promotes freedom of religion, a conscience for the entire Middle East, for the Arab and Muslim world, for Israel and Palestine. Over the course of these two thousand years, Christianity has not played a dominant role in governing this region, but we have always presented a living witness as the leaven in the dough of our societies. Our church is not timid and hiding, afraid of its own survival, but confident in the strength provided by the Spirit to be prophetic, to speak truth to power, and to promote justice for all with peace, reconciliation, and forgiveness.
Fourthly, our ecumenical witness shows itself in active interfaith dialogue. This must occur on several tracks. One is the promotion of better Muslim-Christian relations. We hold up with appreciation the 2007 open letter by Muslim leaders, A Common Word, which speaks about the core of religion as 'Loving God and loving neighbor'. As in the 2005 Amman message of King Abdullah II of Jordan, we must support those embodying the real Islam and combating extremism. I endorse his proposal last month to the United Nations for an annual World Interfaith Harmony Week. Where better than in Jerusalem should we Christians present a paradigm how to live and dialogue with Islam?
The second track of interfaith dialogue promotes Muslim-Christian-Jewish relations. The Council of Religious Institutions in the Holy Land brings together in Jerusalem leaders of all three faiths to jointly promote coexistence, combat extremism and seek solutions to societal problems. Currently academic consultants are studying hundreds of textbooks from Israeli and Palestinian schools in an effort to uncover and eliminate discriminatory and derogatory statements. This project is the preferred way to justice, peace and reconciliation.
The council is also composing a document as a foundation for future interfaith discussions, a simple statement about the common spiritual home of all three religions. The question is this: Why is Jerusalem is holy for Muslims and Jews, as well as Christians?
Our challenge is nothing less than loving our neighbors as ourselves. Many confess to loving God, but how can they love God whom they have not seen, when they do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen? (1 John 4:20)
We Lutherans are committed to work together with you Catholics, as with the Orthodox churches and other mainline Evangelical Churches, for the sake of our common witness in the Middle East.
And so we commit ourselves to "making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."

[00206-02.02] [DF012] [Original text: English]

This morning the Holy Father received in audience the four Fraternal Delegates who intervened in the Twelfth General Congregation.


The following Synod Fathers delivered their interventions in writing only:

- H. B. Card. Lubomyr HUSAR, M.S.U., Major Archbishop of Kyiv-Halyč (UKRAINE)
- H. Exc. Mons. Antonio Maria VEGLIÒ, Titular Archbishop of Eclano, President of the Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People (VATICAN CITY)
- H. Exc. Mons. Raboula Antoine BEYLOUNI, Titular Archbishop of Mardin of the Syrians, Curia Bishop of Antioch of the Syrians (LEBANON)
- H. Exc. Mons. Flavien Joseph MELKI, Titular Bishop of Dara of the Syrians, Curia Bishop of Antioch of the Syrians (LEBANON)
- H. Exc. Mons. Mounged EL-HACHEM, Titular Archbishop of Darn, Apostolic Nuncio (LEBANON)

Below are the summaries of the interventions not presented in the Hall, but delivered in written format by the Synod Fathers:

- H. B. Card. Lubomyr HUSAR, M.S.U., Major Archbishop of Kyiv-Halyč (UKRAINE)

I intend to intervene on two topics that, among numerous others, are present in the Instrumentum laboris and that constitute elements that require close attention, in my opinion, and constant concern insofar as they involve us as Eastern Churches, going beyond our geographical and historical boundaries. Then I will conclude with two concrete proposals.
1. The first point I intervene on is the whole world of emigration. We Ukrainian Greek Catholics share with the brothers of the Middle East the drama of the migration of our faithful, even if the reasons are different. The statistics show that in these last few years five million Ukrainians emigrated towards the rest of the world and Western Europe in particular, half of whom came from the regions where the majority of our faithful live.
We have to acknowledge that generally in the countries they have emigrated to they have been welcomed by the Latin dioceses, but this does not relieve us of the serious responsibility we have of safeguarding the faith according to the Eastern tradition to which they belong and in which they have to be looked after with the appropriate specific pastoral care of their own rites, in line with what is also written clearly in canon law
In the Instrumentum laboris this right-duty of ours is recognized at no. 6 where we read: “The faithful of the Churches sui iuris are understood to be individual persons and their respective communities as a whole”. It seems evident that these, although having left their homeland, have to be placed in a position where they can exercise their faith of origin with the guarantee of all the means which their Church has at its disposal for pastoral care: their own priests, their own rite, their own spirituality, their own community life.
The objection might be raised that this guarantee could constitute an obstacle to integration in the new situations in which our faithful have decided to live. Our centuries-old experience teaches us that this is absolutely not true: our faithful in the Americas and in Australia, as well as in the various countries of Europe, are perfectly integrated today while maintaining intact their patrimony and exercising full membership of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.
Allow me to make an observation as regards this: one Church Father defined it as “circumdata varietate” to mean that the unity of the Church should not be identified with uniformity, but should express the richness of God the Creator in the harmony of differences and multiplicities, wishing to employ the term chosen that is also used in the Instrumentum laboris. As St. Ignatius of Antioch explains clearly with the image of the strings of a cithara and the symphony of a choir that sings, diversity is not a danger but an inalienable treasure for the Universal Church, bearing in mind, naturally, that the Successor of Peter has the divine mandate of conducting the choir to avoid flat notes and thus guarantee the symphony of truth and charity.
We have to find the courage in the Holy Spirit to live the harmony in multiplicity or diversity in all those regions that, up to few decades ago, were characterized by the presence of a single rite and were used to a sort of monopoly. We can observe that territory, faced by the growing challenge of migration, today is no longer a geographical but an anthropological concept. Applying the principle enunciated in the abovementioned quotation from the Instrumentum laboris, it seems to me we have to conclude that the territory of all the Churches sui iuris is made up of people of faith there where, for various reason, they have decided to live. Wehave to, therefore, rethink and review the instruments, including juridical ones, to ensure this principle practically, to guarantee the salus animarum of our faithful for whom we are responsible wherever they are as pastors, and to overcome the eventual danger of assimilation that impoverishes the structural nature of the Church as desired by Our Lord Jesus Christ.2. The second topic I wish to offer for shared reflection comes from no. 20 of our Instrumentum laboris having as its subject “apostolicity and missionary vocation”. Here it is affirmed: “In being apostolic, our Churches have a special mission to bring the Gospel to the whole world. Such has been the case throughout history”. Sadly I have to concur with what is stated in critical terms immediately after this, referring to a typical closed mentality of those who feel besieged or who have lived within absolutist ethnic or ideological boundaries, such as happened to us for 70 years with the Soviet Communist regime. It is true that the “evangelical ardor” has decreased. I ask myself: are the signs that can be seen in our Churches sui iuris - the Church in Ukraine as well has rumblings of new problems - and the singular phenomenon of mass emigration of our faithful that strikes us so profoundly not perhaps a sign sent by the Holy Spirit so that we, like Abraham, should leave the certainties of Ur of the Chaldees and set off on a journey through the whole world? And I am not scared to say “the whole world”, that is, also where the Church until today or yesterday knew situations that I could define as being of peaceful possession, presently in profound crisis because of defection or superficiality or the opposition of anti-Christian people and cultures. I ask myself: if the whole Universal Church is missionary, is this situation not perhaps a provocation for us of the Eastern tradition to decide to go ad gentes, wherever this gentes needs or awaits the Word that will save them? The wealth of our spirituality and our Liturgies is a patrimony to be shared and not jealously guarded or even hidden in our communities. It is true that we are poor compared to many other brothers, but we must never forget that God always chooses the humble and the poor to perform his marvelous works, as in the case, the sublime example, of Mary, the Thetokos.
3. The two issues I brought to our shared attention are just a small part of the great challenges that we have to face daily and in front of which we often feel unprepared or inadequate or weak, in any case, in difficulty. We need the help of Peter.
And here is the proposal-appeal that I make in all simplicity and with profound faith: to set up a body formed by the Patriarchs and Major Archbishops of the Eastern Churches in communion with Rome, similar to the Permanent Synod of the Eastern Tradition, through which the Successor of Saint Peter can comfort, support and advise us on how to give evangelical fullness to our ministry and mission.
4. Based on this first proposal, I put forward a second. I ask the Participants at this Synod to ask the Holy Father to dedicate a Synod in the near future to the general theme of the nature and role of the Eastern Catholic Churches.

[00192-02.05] [IS001] [Original text: Italian]

- H. Exc. Mons. Antonio Maria VEGLIÒ, Titular Archbishop of Eclano, President of the Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People (VATICAN CITY)

In recent decades, Christians, and especially young people in many countries of the Middle East, have left their homeland in droves. It is under the eyes of all, as a result, that Christians in the Middle East are in great difficulty, they are few in number and are often powerless and resigned.
In this important meeting, feelings of spiritual closeness, support and encouragement for Christians in the Middle East spontaneously emerge, also recalling the ultimate sacrifice that Mons Faraj Raho, Mons Luigi Padovese, Don Andrea Santoro and other priests and many men and women, well-known and admired by by Christian communities, offered to the world .
There are also positive aspects in the phenomenon of migration as it had increased the number of Catholics in the region who pour into to certain areas of the Middle East, so much so that there are many Christian communities composed almost exclusively of immigrants, always more in greater contact with people of other religions, especially Muslims.
In this scenario, it is decisive to urge for a political commitment at a global level that addresses the causes of this hemorrhaging of men and women that empties the Churches of the Middle East and the places where Christianity was born and developed. It would be terrible if the Holy Land and its neighbors, the cradle of Christianity and home of the Prince of Peace, were to become a museum of stone, a beloved memory of past times! Equally indispensable and is a cultural commitment, that is, formation with respect to the centrality and dignity of every human person, the opposition to xenophobia, sometimes encouraged by the media, and support in integration that safeguards people’s identity..
While I view the emerging social problems with concern, I also notice the risk that the individual Eastern Catholic Churches should fold back on themselves. Christians Communities of the Middle East should be encouraged towards a better mutual understanding, which helps them to respect and appreciate each other more, to cooperate and work together in order to carry more weight.
This meeting will certainly show solidarity and support for Christians in the Middle East, so that they will feel encouraged to remain in their countries, in order to carry out their mission as “leaven”, through the life and witness of communion and , where possible, also with the explicit proclamation of Jesus Christ the only Lord and Savior.
Finally, in confidence: I am very happy with this Synod, which will help you Eastern Churches get to know each other better along with the Latin Church. And if know each other, we will love and help each other more.

[00193-02.06] [IS002] [Original text: Italian]

- H. Exc. Mons. Raboula Antoine BEYLOUNI, Titular Archbishop of Mardin of the Syrians, Curia Bishop of Antioch of the Syrians (LEBANON)

For several years in Lebanon we have had a national committee for Islamic-Christian dialogue. There was also an episcopal commission from the Assembly of Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops of Lebanon entrusted with Islamic-Christian dialogue. It was recently suppressed to give more importance to the other committee, also because because it had not produced any results.
Sometimes dialogue occurs here and there, in the Arab countries, such as in Qatar, where the Emir himself invites, at his expense, personalities from different countries and from the three religions: Christian, Muslim and Jewish. In Lebanon the Télélumiere and Noursat networks, and other television networks, sometimes broadcast programs on Islamic-Christian dialogue. Often a topic is chosen, and each side explains or interprets according to their religion. These programs are usually very instructive.
With my intervention, I wished to draw attention on the points that make these encounters difficult and often ineffective. It should be clear that we are not discussing dogma. But even the subjects of a practical and social order are difficult to discuss when the Koran or the Sunna discusses them. Here are some difficulties which we have faced:
- The Koran inculcates in the Muslim pride in being the only true and complete religion, taught by the greatest prophet, because he was the last one. The Muslim is part of the privileged nation, and speaks the language of God, the language of Paradise, the Arabic language. This is why, he comes to dialogue with a sense of superiority, and with the certitude of being victorious.
The Koran, supposedly written by God Himself, from beginning to end, gives the same value to all that is written: dogma that supercedes all law or practice.
In the Koran, men and women are not equal, not even in marriage itself where the man takes several wives and can divorce at his pleasure; nor in the heritage where man takes double; nor in the testifying before judges where the voice of one man is equal to the voice of two women, etc...
The Koran allows the Muslim to hide the truth from the Christian, and to speak and act contrary to how he thinks and believes.
In the Koran, there are contradictory verses which annul others, which gives the Muslim the possibility of using one or the other to his advantage, and therefore he can tell the Christian that he is humble and pious and believes in God, just as he can treat him as impious, apostate and idolatrous.
The Koran gives the Muslim the right to judge Christians and to kill them for the Jihad (the holy war). It commands the imposition of religion through force, with the sword. The history of invasions bears witness to this. This is why the Muslims do not recognize religious freedom, for themselves or for others. And it isn’t surprising to see all the Arab countries and Muslims refusing the whole of the “Human Rights” instituted by the United Nations.
Faced with all these interdictions and other similar attitudes should one suppress dialogue? Of course not. But the themes that can be discussed should be chosen carefully, and capable and well-trained Christians chosen as well, as well as those who are courageous and pious, wise and prudent... who tell the truth with clarity and conviction...
We sometimes deplore certain dialogues on TV, where the Christian speaker isn’t up to the task, and does not give the Christian religion all its beauty and spirituality, which scandalizes the viewers. Worse yet, when sometimes there are clergyman speakers who, in dialogue to win over Muslims call Mohammed the prophet and add the Muslim invocation, known and constantly repeated: “Salla lahou alayhi was sallam”.
Finally I would like to suggest the following:
Like the Koran spoke well of the Virgin Mary, insisting on her perpetual virginity and miraculous and unique conception in giving us Christ; just as Muslims take her greatly into consideration and ask for her intercession, we should turn to her for all dialogue and all encounters with the Muslims. Being the Mother of us all, she will guide us in our relations with the Muslims to show them the true face of Her Son Jesus, the Redeemer of mankind.
If it pleased God that the Feast of the Annunciation was declared a national feast day in Lebanon for Christians and Muslims, may it also become a national feast day in other Arab countries.

[00194-02.03] [IS003] [Original text: French]

- H. Exc. Mons. Flavien Joseph MELKI, Titular Bishop of Dara of the Syrians, Curia Bishop of Antioch of the Syrians (LEBANON)

Paragraph 25 of the Instrumentum laboris calls on the Middle Eastern Christians to put everything into practice, together with the moderate and illuminated Muslims, to be able to establish in the Islamic States, where they live, a “positive Laicity” which would guarantee equality for all citizens, recognizing the beneficial role of religions. This reform of the political and theocratic regime of our country “would make the promotion of a healthy democracy easier”.
These propositions, as hoped for and legitimate as they may be, is there any possibility of them being put into practice? Is it even thinkable that the Arabic countries of the Middle East, where fundamentalism is becoming more entrenched, will accept in the near future abandoning their theocratic regimes founded on the Koran and the Sharia, which constitute flagrant discrimination towards non-Muslims? To me this seems to be in the domain of utopia, for the centuries to come.
Apart from Lebanon, Middle Eastern Christians, who number about 15,000,000, have been for the past 14 centuries, submitted to forms of multiple persecution, massacres, discrimination, taxation and humiliation. Even today, in the third millennium, we watch powerless, with a wounded heart, the trials of our brothers in Iraq and their massive exodus.
Must we wait for the disappearance of Christians in the Middle East to raise our voices and speak up with force, liberty, equality and justice for these religious minorities threatened in their very existence? Will the civilized world remain indifferent towards their extinction?
We must act quickly to reform the Islamic regimes. Middle Eastern Christians by themselves cannot achieve this goal. They must be helped by the Universal Church and the democratic nations.
1 - The Holy See could intervene in this with the countries with which they have diplomatic relations.
2 - European countries, the United States and the countries that respect human rights should put pressure on all levels on the regimes who infringe the inalienable rights of the human being, to lead them to reform their laws, inspired by the Islamic Sharia, that treat religious minorities like second-class citizens.
And why not ask the international tribunals to plead the cause of Christians, victims of discrimination, and demand that Islamic countries treat their Christian subjects, following the example of the European states, who give Muslim minorities, who have become citizens, the same rights as the original inhabitants.
In mobilizing international opinion this way, Christians would have reasons to hope and find their dignity as citizens once again, which would induce them to stay.
We must constantly claim our damaged rights and our unrecognized dignity and act unceasingly to resolve this abnormal situation following the Word of Christ: “Ask and you shall receive, knock and the door will be opened”. Or again, following the example of the poor widow in the Gospel, without any defense, who through insisting finally obtained justice from an iniquitous judge, without faith and without heart,

[00196-02.03] [IS004] [Original text: French]

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

The Koran contains verses which prescribe tolerance, especially with regard to Christians. The first Caliphs and provincial leaders appealed to Christians to help them in governing. But it is primarily in the domains of culture and medical care that Christians held the top posts.
Relationships deteriorated with the Crusades and especially under the Mameluke regime. At the end of the 19th century and at the beginning of the 20th, the Arab world and Muslims faced enormous difficulties: countries in Northern Africa had been colonized by France, the Arab language had nearly disappeared, the Turkish empire had begun to become the “sick man”. Numerous Christian intellectuals, in particular the Lebanese and Syrian, emigrated to Egypt and there brought about a rebirth of Arab language and culture.
Today, particularly since September 11, 2001, the Muslim world faces great challenges, despite its wealth, especially its immense oil and gas reserves.
Let us recall some of them:-Its difficult relationships with the West, especially with Europe and the United States of America
-Its political regimes: military dictatorships and hereditary monarchies
-Absence of democracy, of freedoms (of opinion, expression, association, religion...)
-Respect for human rights, according to the signing of the Treaty of 1948
-The status of women and their equality with men
-Tension between Sunnis and Shiites
-Wars and conflicts: Palestine, Iraq, Yemen,...
-Confusion between Spiritual and Temporal, Religion and State
Numerous Christians and associations work on Islamic-Christian dialogue, beginning with the Islamic Section in the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.
Some practical suggestions for concrete collaboration:
1. Encourage accurate knowledge, even elementary, on one side as well as the other: “man is the enemy of what he ignores”. This teaching must be done at all levels: from elementary school up through university.
2. Create academic manuals which provide accurate teachings of both religions.
3. Encourage mixed schools, and exchanges between Christian and Muslim schools; this is being done more and more in Lebanon
4.Organize joint camps where young Muslims and Christians can live together.
5.Carry out social, charitable, and humanitarian activities together.
It is desirable that religious leaders of the same country take initiatives which encourage collaboration between the faithful of both religions; in Lebanon, for example, The National Committee for Islamic-Christian dialogue, instituted by the leaders of the six most important religious communities, is achieving noteworthy results. The government has created two shared books of history and civic education for all students. These must reach the masses and not be limited solely to the elite.
This dialogue of life is an implementation of the theme of this Synod: “Communion and Witness”.

[00198-02.05] [IS005] [Original text: French]

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