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Intervention of Mons. Thomas OSMAN, Bishop of Barentu (ERITREA)



We too live in an extremely difficult situation because of a complex interweaving of problems and environmental, economic and political emergencies. The experience of fraternal communion which we are able to live in these days gathered around the Holy Father, is undoubtedly a gift of the Consoling Spirit for all our communities in Eritrea.
The presence of an African Church like ours, Ethio-Eritrean, in the context of a Synod on the “Catholic Church in the Middle East” stands out for many reasons. Geographically we are at a crossroad between Africa and Asia and, for this reason, our area has been for millennia the site of fruitful meetings between peoples, cultures and religions from the two sides of the Red Sea.
The Semite cultural component, which came to unite with the pre-existing Nile-Saharan and Kushite in pre-Christian and early Christian times, constituted the terrain into which the preaching of the Gospel was grafted along with the totality of the Judaic-Christian traditions that form part of the model of Christianity that developed in our territory. This was not simply a transposition of cultural models, but a real inculturating symbiosis that allowed Christianity, as recognized by the Synod of Bishops for Africa in 1994, to take root in the “mens” and cultural humus of our people. A constitutive part of this symbiosis were the liturgical, spiritual-monastic and literary traditions originally borrowed from the Coptic and Syriac Churches, and then developed for themselves through the many centuries of isolation of our country after the fall of the Kingdom of Aksum, and which bore fecund fruits in the interior lives of the Christian communities and the spread of the Gospel.
We are convinced that today too our region can and must continue to carry out its mission as a “bridge” for bringing together Africa and the Middle East in an enriching exchange of spiritual and cultural values, experiences and meetings, as is happening at this Synod. This could be facilitated by, among other things, the institution, possibly to be realized through the mediation of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, of cultural structures and formal and informal means of study, meeting and reflection. This would allow us to propose again together an efficacious testimony of the “unity of hearts and souls” in facing the threat of the lack of peace and the variety of destructive forces that hang over our continents.
The possibility of making the two areas of the Red Sea into a laboratory for peace and intercultural and inter-religious dialogue will in fact depend on the ability of our Christian communities to lay the foundations for a formal diplomacy, that diplomacy of the spirit and heart which is, above all a gift of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, the Spirit of peace and love.

[00143-02.02] [IN102] [Original text: Italian]




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