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     Home > Synod >  2010-10-16 11:18:16
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Intervention of Mons. Ibrahim Michael IBRAHIM, Bishop of Saint-Sauveur de Montréal of the Greek-Melkites (CANADA)

In the first place, I wish to underline that the Eastern Christians have difficulties in surviving in several of their countries, the Eastern immigrants of my eparchy do not have any less, but their problems are different. For example, even after 30 years, immigrants are often torn, and even “crucified” between two worlds: their countries of origin and host countries. Immigration is not always a relaxing trip.
The great difficulty that the Eastern Christians experience is that their life of faith, their traditions, their customs, their heritage and their history are threatened by an aggressive secularism and by a practical atheism that are the essence of the new society in which they live. Because of this danger, many experience a second immigration that could be “final”, that can make a complete break with the already mentioned values.
On the other hand, our Church lives with the same pressures as the Western Church that is faced with a premeditated attack and sometimes by laws that take away important religious symbols. We have heard a lot about the persecutions in the East, and I believe that a persecution of another kind has already begun and is experienced by the Christians in the West. But the Church remains firm and continues to keep the Gospel Hope.
Another problem for Eastern Christian immigrants is the easy solution, due to the vast distances between their residence and their place of worship. Because of this, they go to the closest place of Catholic worship. We are a small minority that can be assimilated by the great majority.
From another point of view, the Christians of the Middle East who decide to leave their homelands to avoid co-existence with other religions, do not know that in the West the need for co-existence is even stronger. The West becomes more and more diversified and is transforming, because of immigration, into an environment that welcomes all ethnic backgrounds, cultures and religions.
Moreover, it is true that immigration by Eastern Christians should not be encouraged and rather they should be helped in finding their roots in their own countries. Our presence in the East is not by coincidence but rather it is a presence according to the Will of God who chose it and sanctified it by His presence. The Christians of the East should be attached to their land with all their forces, and defend it “tooth and nail”.
But at the same time, we must not forget that immigration is an inalienable right justified according to the principles of respect for personal liberty and human dignity: principles that the Church defends persistently. I believe we should do all we can to strengthen the presence of Christians in the East before telling them not to emigrate. Without going into further detail, I can say that the Christians who have emigrated are sometimes an essential help to the Christians who stayed. In certain cases, immigration by a person is even necessary for the good of the family and relatives. Khalil Gibran said, with reason: “The entire earth is my homeland and the human family is my clan”. Of course this is an ideal that is not easily achieved.

[00105-02.02] [IN081] [Original text: French]


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