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Friday, October 3, 2014

Second day of the meeting on the presence of Christians in the Middle East

Vatican City, 3 October 2014 (VIS) – The meeting of various Papal Representatives and Superiors of the competent dicasteries, convoked in the Vatican at the behest of the Holy Father to analyse “The presence of Christians in the Middle East”, continued today. During this morning’s meeting, the Secretary for Relations with States gave a general presentation on the political situation in the Middle East and on the principles guiding the action of the Holy See, demonstrating the global repercussions of what happens in the Region. Peace is to be sought by means of a “regional” and comprehensive solution that does not overlook the interests of any of the parties, through dialogue and not through unilateral decisions imposed by force. With reference to the phenomenon of terrorism, the Secretary for Relations with States emphasised the importance of combating the fundamentalism at its base. An important role should be played by religious leaders, favouring interreligious dialogue and in particular the collaboration of all for the good of society. The Holy See, in following the political situation in the Middle East, and more generally in its relations with countries with a Muslim majority, considers to be fundamental issues the protection and respect for Christians and other religious minorities as fully-entitled citizens, and human rights, especially that of religious freedom.

The apostolic nuncio in Israel and the apostolic delegate for Jerusalem and Palestine presented reports n the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and on the presence of Christians in the Holy Land. A solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is crucial for the stabilisation of the Middle East and for peace in the region. Indeed, after many years it remains unresolved, with the very grave regional and global consequences this implies. In this regard, the Holy Father’s pilgrimage to the Holy Land and the subsequent prayer meeting in the Vatican opened up hopes for peace. The recent conflict in Gaza recalls that the situation is serious and difficult, but it is necessary to renew diplomatic efforts for a just and lasting solution that respects the rights of both parties to the conflict.

After a moment of dialogue, the Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity provided information on the relationship between the Catholic Church and other Churches and Christian confessions in the Middle East.

In the afternoon, two reports will be heard on the role of the Church in relation to the refugee crisis and in the promotion of justice and peace, presented by the Secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples and the Prefect of the Pontifical Council “Justice and Peace”. After a lengthy dialogue, the afternoon session will conclude with Vespers and a fraternal dinner at the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

Tomorrow, the final day of the meeting, Holy Mass will be celebrated in the Pauline Chapel of the Apostolic Palace, presided by the Cardinal Secretary of State, followed by an exchange of ideas in relation to the conclusions and working guidelines emerging from these days of study and reflection.

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