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Meeting in Bari: Christians of the Middle East, which future?

Meeting in Bari: Christians of the Middle East, which future?


BARI– The issue “Christians of the Middle East, which future?” has become a very dramatic and thorny reality. Christians of the Middle-East themselves think of it seriously and a number of international movements do not yield to indifference but face the issue with courage and open-mind. In Bari in Italy there was on the 29 and 30 April a meeting of thoughts in presence of many heads of churches in the Middle East.

Community St Egidion organized in Bari (Pouilles, Italy) a meeting of thoughts, inviting thereto all Orthodox & Catholic Patriarchs, Christian religious leaders in the Middle East, diplomats or representatives of some concerned countries, representatives of some concerned Roman dicastries, a number of Community members and other guests.(here the participants’list)

This Community pledged to carry on the “Assisi Spirit” after the meeting of religious leaders for peace in 1986. It regularly organizes, in the framework of the programme “Peoples & Religions”, interreligious and intercultural meetings. It poses sometimes as mediator to resolve some conflicts, which gained her acknowledgements and international prizes.

The Meeting took place at the Metropolitan Town Hall of Bari on 29 & 30 April 2015, after welcoming Archbishop of Bari, Francesco Cacucci, Mayor Antonio Decaro and Presidence of the Region. Bari enjoys a very ecumenical vocation and, because of its geography and history, considers itself a real bridge between East & West. Archbishop of Bari, interpreting this role and the spirit of the meeting, had organized at St Nicolas Church an evening of prayers, in conjunction with the Dominicans, in charge of the church and the nearby ecumenical center. Groups of pressmen from the world all over covered this event and of course all the proceedings of the meeting.


Interventions: causes, situation, analysis, ways of solution

Ideas had altogether as background the cycle of violence which spread out since the burst of the Arab Spring, more particularly, the persecution mounted against Christians in Syria, Irak, Egypt, Yemen and Libya. The description of the very dramatic situation of the population was presented especially by Patriarchs and Bishops of Syria, Irak and Egypt. Enlighting analysis of the causes and geopolitical ploys were submitted by professors, ambassadors and diplomats. In this context the interventions of Minister Gentiloni, French diplomat Christophe Paucelle, Director Fr Anton Spadaro, Prof. Tareq Mitri were all outstanding. The areas to explore methods of solution were illustrated especially by representatives of Roman dicastries, by Mgr G.B. Marcuzzo and Fr Pizzaballa, Mr Impagliazzi and Mr A. Riccardi.

Mgr Marcuzzo referred among other topics to the situation of the many Syrian and Iraki refugees fostered in the Holy Land, in Jordan more particularly. Based on the equation proved by experience, “more peace, more Christians; less peace, less Christians”, he urged to work seriously in order to contribute to the solution of the Israel-Palestine conflict which – if not the mother of all issues of the Middle East – is one of the main causes.


General conclusions

There may be a lot of conclusions after having heard all these voices which reflect an extensive geographical and cultural experience, fruit of a long and deep history.

Christians are not only invited, but “compelled” by circumstances to unite and shape a common front, keeping the dialogue and cooperation with everybody. Here the discourses of Cardinal Sandri and Substitute Mgr Callagher were clear: absolute priority to negotiations, in order to acknowledge the mistakes of the past, to stop the trade of arms and help to terrorists, addressing the root of the issues.

The best conclusion was that of Pr Ricarrdi who confirmed: “The theme of our meeting is: “Christians of the Middle East, which future?”. We were able to realize altogether a beautiful conquest. After having listened to you, despite the dramatic dimensions of the situation, with much hope, and strong in our unity, we can now remove the question mark and proclaim with courage and faith: “Yes, there is hope for Christians of the Middle East”.


Text: our correspondent, based on information forwarded by Mgr G.B. Marcuzzo

Photos: T.N. and CSE