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     Home > Synod >  2010-10-16 13:50:43
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Intervention of Mons. Edmond FARHAT, Titular Archbishop of Byblus, Apostolic Nuncio (LEBANON)

Apart from the fact that in the Middle East we are not a “small residue” even if the word is Biblical, this conclusion is very encouraging. We are not the small remainder, but the hand held out of the Church that communes to its source of Living Water and bears witness of its joy to the most distant brothers. Its place and mission do not depend on the benevolence of one towards the other, nor in tolerance towards each other. And I would like to give two considerations, one about the past and the other on the future of Middle Eastern Christians.
The recent past had us endure great trials of faith that the document does not hesitate to call “The unresolved Israeli-Palestinian conflict, disregard for international law, the selfishness of great powers and the lack of respect for human rights” (IL, no. 118), with all their negative consequences such as emigration and discouragement. The Middle Eastern situation today is like a living organ that has been subject to a graft it cannot assimilate and which has no specialists capable of healing it. As a last resource, the Eastern Arab Muslim looked to the Church, believing, as he thinks himself, that it is capable of obtaining justice for him. This is not the case. He is disappointed, he is scared. His confidence has turned into frustration. He has fallen into a deep crisis. The foreign body, not accepted, gnaws at him and impedes him from taking care of his general state and development. The Middle Eastern Muslim, in the great majority of cases, is in crisis. He cannot make justice on his own. He finds any allies neither on the human nor the political level, let alone the scientific level. He is frustrated. He revolts.

His frustration has resulted in revolutions, radicalism, wars, terror and the call (da’wat) to return to radical teachings (salafiyyah). Wishing to find justice on his own radicalism turns into violence. He believes there will be more of an echo if he attacks the constituted bodies. The most accessible and fragile is the Church. Not knowing of the concept of gratuity, he accuses Christians of having backward thoughts, of proselytism, of being accomplices to the imperial powers. From Iraq to Turkey, from Pakistan to India, the victims have multiplied. They are always the innocent ones and the benevolent servants (Mons. Luigi Padovese, Andrea Santoro in Turkey, the lawyer killed with his family in Pakistan, Mons. Claverie and the religious persons in Algeria, the priests, religious and innocent faithful, killed during the war in Lebanon). These are easy targets.
For the future, the text recommends not being afraid. This does not mean that we can be indifferent. But it is the time for purification and the pains of childbirth, even in the Muslim society. It is up to us to continue our path in these conditions. It is our mission. It is our role that nobody else can fill in our place. It is not only speaking of the almighty God, but also of His Son Jesus Christ, in Arabic. Not only should there be no fear, but we must transmit the message to the future generations. Bathed by the blood of its martyrs, encouraged by its teachers, saints and blessed, the Middle Eastern Church will flourish like the Lord’s vineyard and will bear much fruit.
Today, the Church endures injustice and calumnies. As in the Gospel, many leave, others tire, or flee. The frustrated and desperate ones take their revenge on the innocent ones. Behind the physical assassinations and the most burning failures, there is sin. It is this “anonymous power served by men, by which men are tormented and even killed”, as the Holy Father said to us at the beginning of our work (Reflection by the Holy Father, First General Congregation, October 11, 2010).
When Jesus died “the veil of the Sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom, the earth quaked, the rocks were split, the tombs opened” (Mt 27:51). Evil thought to have won. At the moment of His Resurrection and His victory over death, it was a quiet dawning. He rose without making a sound, He pushed the rock away quietly. There were no witnesses. Life does not need witnesses. He is the Master and the Lord. He would do the same for His Church in the Middle East.
The action of God continues throughout history. The Church in the Middle East lives this moment on the path of the Cross and purification, which leads to renewal, to resurrection. The present suffering and anguish are the cries of the new labor. If they last it is because this type of demon that torments our society can be chased away only by prayer. Perhaps we have not prayed enough!

[00118-02.04] [IN092] [Original text: French]


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