Unity: key to survival for Middle East Christians
The Special Council on the Middle East of the Synod’s General Secretariat met for the third time on March 30-31, 2011.
This council is working with the conclusions from last October’s synod, with the aim of assisting the Pope in preparing the post synodal apostolic exhortation
The current destabilizing developments in North Africa and the Middle East have naturally formed the backdrop for discussions. The Council members in their statement released on April 12 highlighted, “The delicate situation of these countries due to socio-political movements is of keen interest to the Churches, which share the joys and concerns of the citizens often forced to emigrate because of violence, unemployment, lack of religious freedom or democracy.” It emphasized the urgent need for “free and fruitful dialogue with other religions and with the legitimate representatives of the civil powers.”
The Middle East and North African Bishops denounced the “ongoing revolution” in the Arab world, “which reduced democracy’s space in their countries,” and worried about the “restriction of religious freedom” affecting minorities, including Christians. Hopes raised by these changes were also discussed.
“Christian unity is key for the survival of the Church in the Middle East, just as it was for the first Christians of Jerusalem,” according to Archbishop Nikola Eterović, secretary-general of the Synod of Bishops. He thus invited the faithful of the Eastern Churches to follow the example of the first Christians.
The next meeting will take place on May 17-18, 2011.
Marie Malzac with Vatican Radio and Zenit