||Home > Synod > 2010-10-16 11:18:12
Intervention of Mons. Thomas MERAM, Archbishop of Urmyā of the Chaldeans, Bishop of Salmas, Shapour of the Chaldeans (IRAN)
Holy father benedict XVI, my brother Bishops,
First of all, I would like to present my thanks and my gratitude for all those who prepared this interesting text and gave us the Instrumentum laboris. This Synod plants hope in us and gives us strength and helps us to move forward, despite the difficulties, and not to despair and not to make compromises in the face of daily difficulties, and in this way we will give a living and Christian witness. As mentioned in the Instrumentum laboris, this (witness) is a martyr and in many countries in the Middle East the Christian lives this martyrdom and has to bear all sorts of calamities without denying his faith. And the Christians from their earliest days were persecuted and history is the greatest witness to this. Despite all the disasters and persecution, the Christians kept their deposit of faith with complete fidelity and sincerity. The Chaldean Church in particular was persecuted and offered thousands and thousands of her children on the altar of fidelity and love for Christ and therefore it was properly named the Church of Martyrs, and it continued emigrating from city to city, from country to country, up to today, and didn’t abandon anything of her true faith, irrigated with the blood of these martyrs and saints which conserves, strengthens and confirms her. And today I can repeat with the Prophet David: for you everyday we are slaughtered, the Christian bears his cross every day and continues as on the road to Golgotha and gives living and silent witness, and this silent witness is a loud shout which echoes and this echo is heard by all those of good will; the Christian hears every day from loudspeakers, television, newspapers and magazines that he is an infidel and he is treated as a second-class citizen, but he stands firm and solid and doesn’t change his faith but becomes more courageous and proud of his faith.
The emigration issue: this has been a problem for over 100 years, not only in the Middle East but also from all the Asian, African and South American countries and everyone has their own particular reasons, because every human being has the right to live wherever he wants and the reasons for emigration are political, economic or to do with well-being and a better future that is more prosperous and serene. A lot of people are asking: what is the benefit of this Synod and what will be done for the Middle Eastern Christians? It is true that we cannot perform miracles quickly, but at least the Synod gives hope. And the Christian will not feel alone but that all the Catholic Churches in the world care for him because he is an active and holy member in the body of the whole Church.
The Church in Iran: We see that the Church feels the responsibility more seriously when she faces difficulties and despite these trials and tribulations and occasional lack of respect we see the Church grow and prosper. Yes, there is a strong decrease in the number of Christians, especially Catholics, but on the other hand we see the religious and priestly vocations increasing among the citizens of this country.
Let me now give you some statistics:
The late Papal Nuncio in Iran, Bugnini, wrote a book in 1979, entitled “The Church in Iran” and described all the Catholic Church does through Christian, human, and cultural services, and there was only one house for the elderly and disabled. But now we have four, which provide services free to these persons from all the Christian denominations without discrimination based on their ecclesial or national identities.
Priests and nuns in iran in 1979
In 1979, there were only 51 priests of whom only one was Iranian and two had been granted Iranian citizenship. There were 73 nuns of whom two were Iranians, and the majority of priests and nuns were working in the teaching field.
But now, after the Islamic revolution, the Church faced her biggest crisis for priests and nuns; we can see that the Holy Spirit didn’t leave the Church to face this difficulty alone, but He inspired in the Church’s children’s hearts a feeling of profound responsibility towards their faith and their Church. And despite the continuous emigration and the small number of Catholics we see today vocations increase and the Church, in Iran, like a tree, has new leaves and bears fruit. We have 14 priests, 6 of them are Iranians and another two serve the Church outside their country, we have 4 bishops who are not Iranians, we have 21 nuns of whom 15 are Iranians, two of them work outside Iran, three of them are finishing their university studies and there are 10 of them serving their Church and country according to their vocation, and we ask God to increase these vocations.
Thank you for listening.
[00107-02.03] [IN082] [Original text: Arabic]