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Tuesday, October 12, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 12 OCT 2010 (VIS) - The Third General Congregation of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops began at 9 a.m. today in the Synod Hall in the presence of the Pope and 165 Synod Fathers. The president delegate on duty was His Beatitude Ignace Youssif III Younan, Patriarch of Antioch of the Syrians, Lebanon.


Hundreds of Israeli Catholics conduct all aspects of their life in Hebrew, inculturating their faith within a society that is defined by the Jewish tradition. ... [This is] a great challenge for the Hebrew-speaking vicariate today ... [which also] seeks ways to serve as a bridge between the Church, predominantly Arabic-speaking, and Jewish-Israeli society to promote both a teaching of respect for the people of the first covenant and a sensibility to the cry for justice and peace for Israelis and Palestinians. Together, Arabic-speaking and Hebrew-speaking Catholics must give witness, and work in communion for the Church in the land of her birth".

ARCHBISHOP LOUIS SAKO OF KERKUK OF THE CHALDEANS, IRAQ. " The fatal exodus afflicting our Churches cannot be avoided, emigration is the biggest challenge which threatens our presence. The data is worrying. The Eastern Churches, and even the universal Church, must take on their responsibilities and, with the international community and local authorities, find common choices which respect the dignity of the human person. Choices which are based on equality and full citizenship, with efforts towards partnership and protection. The strength of a State must be based upon its credibility in the application of its laws at the service of its citizens, without discrimination between the majority and the minority. We want to live in peace and freedom rather than merely surviving".

ARCHBISHOP JOSEPH MOHSEN BECHARA OF ANTELIAS OF THE MARONITES, LEBANON. "Given that the overwhelming majority of Middle Eastern countries are Muslim and therefore refuse secularism, it would be preferable, for our Synod, to use instead the term of citizenship or civic State. This is a term that is more acceptable and includes the same realities. ... But for the reality of citizenship to be admitted, generalised and integrated at the level of constitutions and above all mentalities, a dual task is required: At the societal level, the means of social communication can be of great assistance in anchoring the notions of what citizenship entails, above all the equality of all and the acceptance of religious and cultural diversity. At the educational level, ... citizenship can be nourished throughout the years in school. A work of purification is indispensable at the level of programmes to eliminate discrimination. This dual task is indispensable if we want to go beyond the level of the elites for whom citizenship, dialogue and even freedom are allowed, in order to be able to reach the masses who can be manipulated and turned towards any sort of extremism".

BISHOP SALIM SAYEGH, AUXILIARY OF JERUSALEM OF THE LATINS, PATRIARCHAL VICAR FOR JORDAN. "Among the problems facing the Church in the Middle East, we have to mention that of the sects, which causes great doctrinal confusion. ... What can be done to safeguard the treasury of the faith and to limit their growing influence? ... Priests and pastors of souls are pleaded with, insistently, to visit families and to assume their responsibility in explaining, defending, disseminating, living and helping to live the Catholic faith. Demonstrate serious concern for the Christian formation of adults. ... Sensitise Catholic schools to their Catholic mission. ... Have the courage to revise catechism texts so that they might clearly express the faith and doctrine of the Catholic Church".

ARCHBISHOP VINCENT LANDEL S.C.I. OF BETH, OF RABAT, MOROCCO AND PRESIDENT OF REGIONAL EPISCOPAL CONFERENCE OF NORTH AFRICA (CERNA). "Our responsibility as a Church is to help Christians to accept the differences that separate them from their Muslim friends, ... to help them cultivate an attitude of humble trust towards people different from ourselves. ... Our responsibility as a Church is to help Christians who live temporarily in our lands to understand that they can live their Christian faith with joy and passion in a totally Muslim society. This will help them to return to their own countries with different ideas about Muslims, and so eliminate the prejudices that run the risk of ruining the world".

ARCHBISHOP PAUL YOUSSEF MATAR OF BEIRUT OF THE MARONITES, LEBANON. "The responsibility of the Western powers: They have committed injustices and historical errors in their encounter with the Middle East. They too should make amends by removing injustices, which whole peoples suffer especially the Palestinian people. The Christians of this region, who were unjustly identified with those powers, would benefit from these reparations thanks to their cohesion with their brothers. ... The responsibility of Christians in the West and in the rest of the world: They should show solidarity with their brothers and sisters of the Middle East, Christians in the West and in the rest of the world should know their Middle Eastern brothers and sisters better, show more solidarity to their causes. They should also exercise pressure on public opinion at home as well as on their governments to re-establish justice in their relationships with the Middle East and Islam, and help liberate the world from fundamentalism".
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