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Synod: Holy Land must not become open-air museum

Work continued behind closed doors on the third day of the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East. Wednesday morning saw the first session of the smaller Working Groups. The general debate resumes in the afternoon, with the intervention of Rabbi David Rosen, director of the Department of interreligious affairs for the American Jewish Committee in Israel. A delegation of the Synod Fathers also visited the Quirinal Palace, for a meeting with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano.

Tuesday afternoon, meanwhile, the focus was on the situation of Christians in the Holy Land and the crucial role of families in the dynamics of mission. A Church of Calvary, suffering from violence and instability, this is how the Synod defines the Christian community in the Holy Land, equivalent to just 2% of the population. Participants made a strong appeal not to leave the Christians of this land alone and isolated, to stop it being transformed into an open-air museum, because Christians are indispensable and have a great responsibility to perpetuate the message of peace and reconciliation. Being a minority, the Synod Fathers, urge them to be more proactive.

Synod participants then returned to the alarming situation in Iraq, comparing it to that experienced in Turkey during the First World War. In this respect, the bishops of the Middle East are loudly calling for respect for fundamental human rights, freedom and dignity of Christians. A respect that also involves the elimination of discrimination from constitutional and statutory texts and schoolbooks.

Here, speakers outlined the vital role of families in re-evangelization to live, along with the ecclesial movements and new communities, the dynamics of missionary work. In Arab countries there are many families who deeply live the Christian faith, despite the enormous difficulties of daily life, cherishing hope against all hope. In this context, the construction of an international centre of spirituality of the family in Nazareth was announced.

Another major concern was ecumanism and interreligious dialogue: the danger of sectarianism and exaggerated attachment to ethnicity was denounced, which transform the Churches in ghettos and are opposed to the teachings of Christ. Calls were made for mutual trust between the West and the Muslim world to work for a Middle East devoid of conflict.


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