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Monday, October 25, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 23 OCT 2010 (VIS) - The working sessions of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops concluded this morning with the approval of forty-four propositions which the Synod Fathers have presented to Benedict XVI.

  By order of the Pope, a provisional and unofficial version of the propositions has been made public by the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops. The propositions are given to the Holy Father for him to consider while preparing the Apostolic Exhortation, the official closing document of a Synod.

  The propositions are divided into three sections: The Christian Presence in the Middle East, Ecclesial Communion, and Christian Witnesses of the Resurrection and Love.

  The Synod Fathers recall how "in a world marked by division and extreme positions, we are called to live communion in the Church, remaining open to everyone and avoiding the trap of confessionalism". They also note that "the attention of the whole world should be focused on the tragic situation of certain Christian communities in the Middle East which suffer all manner of trials sometimes even to the point of martyrdom".

  On the subject of migration, they suggest creating "an office or commission entrusted with the study of the phenomenon ... and the factors behind it, so as to find ways of stopping it", and doing everything possible "to boost the presence of Christians in their own countries of origin".

  "To better welcome and guide immigrants to the Middle East", reads another proposition, "their Churches of origin are asked to maintain regular contact with the host Churches, assisting them to set up the structures the immigrants need".

  The section dedicated to the subject of ecclesial communion speaks of communion in the bosom of the Church and calls for greater pastoral care of vocations. It is also suggested that greater use be made "of the Arabic language in the major institutions of the Holy See and official meetings, so that Christians of Arab culture have access to information from the Holy See in their mother tongue".

  "With a view to the pastoral service of our faithful, wherever they are to be found, and to respect the traditions of the Eastern Churches", reads another proposition "it would be desirable to study the possibility of having married priests outside the patriarchal territory".

  The proposition dedicated to the question of ecumenism suggests "working for a common date for the celebrations of Christmas and Easter", and expresses the desire "to inaugurate an annual feast in common for all the martyrs of the Churches of the Middle East".

  In the section dedicated to Christian Witness, the Synod Fathers suggest "the creation of catechetical centres where they are lacking" and highlight the vital importance of "ongoing formation and collaboration between the different Churches at the level of the laity, seminaries and universities".

  Reiterating the importance of the communications media "for Christian formation in the Middle East, as well as for the proclamation of the faith", the Synod Fathers advocate "the aid and maintenance of the existing structures in this area".

  On the question of the family, they stress the need "to make better provisions in centres for marriage preparation, counselling and guidance centres, and in the spiritual and human guidance of young families. ... Child bearing and the good education of children should be encouraged. The practice of home visiting by pastors should be revived", they write.

  The Synod Fathers "commit themselves to ensure young people have the spiritual and theological formation they need" and "to build with them bridges of dialogue so as to bring down the walls of division and separation in societies".

  Inter-religious dialogue must be strengthened so as "to strive for the purification of memory through forgiveness for the events of the past, and to seek a better future together".

  "Initiatives of dialogue and co-operation with Jews are to be encouraged so as to foster human and religious values, freedom, justice, peace and fraternity. Reading the Old Testament and getting to know Jewish traditions lead to a better understanding of the Jewish religion. We reject anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism, while distinguishing between religion and politics", the Synod Fathers say.

  On the subject of relations with Muslims, the Synod Fathers highlight the importance of promoting "the notion of citizenship, the dignity of the human person, equal rights and duties and religious freedom, including both freedom of worship and freedom of conscience". They note how "Christians in the Middle East are called to pursue a fruitful dialogue of life with Muslims, ... leaving every negative prejudice aside, ... and together combating every sort of fundamentalism and violence in the name of religion".
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