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The magazine “Proche Orient Chrétien”: from Jerusalem to Beirut

The magazine “Proche Orient Chrétien”: from Jerusalem to Beirut

BEIRUT: The magazine Proche Orient Chrétien, launched by the White Fathers in Jerusalem in 1951, was entrusted to the Jesuit-run University of St Joseph in Beirut. On this occasion an international colloquium on ecumenism was held at USJ on the 12th and 13th of November, under the theme “The challenge of the Church, a mission of the French-speaking ecumenical magazine.

Following the establishment of the Order of Africa’s Missionaries in 1868, commonly known as White Fathers, their founder, Cardinal Lavigerie, entrusted them with the mission of working for the unity of churches of the East and of the West. This ecumenical vision prompted as of 1951 the starting of a magazine Proche Orient Chrétien, published in the heart of the Holy City, a place where the wide diversity of Christian churches is largely represented. The magazine assumed the task of deepening the study of Eastern traditions and of communicating on the reality of the Middle East – more particularly as regards the relations of Christian Churches with Muslims.

During 65 years of publication by the White Fathers of Jerusalem, the magazine POC became an international term of reference for study of Christianity in the Middle East. However, the conflict between the State of Israel and the neighboring Arab countries, making it difficult to run contacts with the majority of Christians of the Middle East, added to the absence of relieving figures among the White Fathers of Jerusalem, urged the latters to entrust the whole publication of the magazine to the Jesuit University in Beirut.

This change will not prevent Christian communities of Jerusalem to keep their voice heard worldwide. In testimony thereof the words of Fr. Frans Bouwen, White Father living at Basilica St Anne : “We intend to establish an efficient  local team of POC, White Fathers and others, to make sure that Jerusalem and the Holy Land remain well represented on the Editing Board and that  life of the Christian communities be present always very faithfully. Of course much still needs to be done in Jerusalem, even without the publication of POC, in an ecumenical and interreligious context mainly, and the magazine will continue to serve as a privileged tool “.

Calixte des Lauriers