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     Home > Synod >  2010-10-17 13:40:31
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Intervention of H. Exc. Armash NALBANDIAN, Bishop of Damascus, Primate (SYRIA)

1. Emigration.
We, the Christian churches, are suffering from a big problem concerning the emigration of our faithful believers. That is not because of the political or economical reasons or circumstances in the countries in which we live, even though there are many difficulties of the Israeli Palestinian conflict, and the war in Iraq or political instability in Lebanon and in other Middle Eastern countries. The major cause for emigration is oftentimes the plan of western or international politics, when it ignores the existence of Christians in the Middle East and in the Holy land, and when they name our countries as terrorist countries or societies. An Islamic country does not automatically mean a terrorist country.
2. Dialogue with Islam.
Every day we witness our Christian faith, when we are forced to clarify the spirit of the message of the Gospel, the message of love, peace, tolerance etc, in non Christian countries, because of international politics, that intend to declare nearly every Middle Eastern country as a radical Islamic and terrorist country. Interreligious dialogue often needs big efforts to find a common path with our Muslim brothers and sisters and to accept and respect, that Islam also contains the principals of love, peace, solidarity and the witness of a merciful God, the almighty Creator. We can only expect from the churches in the West to raise their voice or put efforts against the politicians and those who intend to use religion to justify the war of economical and political interests. The moral authority of the church has its own weight and value on the international political decisions.
3. Ecumenical dimension.
A very healthy, vivid and good ecumenical relationship exists among the churches of various confessions in the Middle East. We are very hopeful that the Special Assembly for the Bishops of Middle East will offer us new opportunities to find new ways for ecumenical dialogue, cooperation and witness of the message of the Gospel. But we feel a burden when we read in Lineamenta in paragraph (9) the statement "In the wake of these divisions and separations, periodic attempts were made to re-establish the unity of the Body of Christ. This ecumenical effort gave rise to the Eastern Catholic Churches". Our Churches exist in countries which have been the cradle of Christianity. They are the living guardians of our Christian origin. These lands have been blessed by the presence of Christ himself and the first generations of Christians. We have to accept the historical facts but let us not call it "ecumenical efforts".
We hope throughout this Special Assembly for the Bishops of Middle East a reorganization of the Catholic churches and refreshment of the witness of faith will take place. But the mission and so the existence of the catholic churches can be or must be understood only in ecumenical communion and unity with the other churches in the region. (38)

[00146-02.02] [DF002] [Original text: English]


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