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Reporting the Synod: telling the story of profound crisis and terrific opportunity

John Allen is senior correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter and senior Vatican analyst for the cable news network CNN.

He is in Rome to cover the Extraordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, and he came to our studios between sessions to speak with us about the about prevailing perceptions of the Assembly among the secular media and the public.

Allen told us that a central consideration in calculating the success of the synod,is bringing the powerful narrative of Middle Eastern Christianity to the attention of the larger public. The assembly has a twofold goal: energizing Christians across the Mideast region, including especially the Holy Land; drawing attention to the specific challenges and opportunities facing the Christian community in the lands where Christ was born and where His gospel was first preached. In this direction, Allen said that the broad story, which this synod needs to tell, is one at once of imminent danger and magnificent opportunity:

[T]he fate of Christianity in the land of its birth is at risk...you've got a tiny Christian minority that's hanging on by the skin of its teeth, and that has great dreams about what it can contribute to this region, and is in need of enormous help in being able to live those dreams.

Asked about the ability of the mainstream media to tell the story of the synod properly, Allen said, "I think religious literacy in the mainstream media generally is a work in progress,” and added, “[this] applies also to the Christian presence in the Middle East.”

One of the keys to success in the two weeks of deliberations, is maintaining close contact with the story’s essential humanity – of the stories within the story. “There are countless enormously compelling dramas,”, Allen noted, going on to say, “individual dramas that make up that broad narrative that could and should be told by the synod.”

Allen told us the bishops are thinking and proposing boldly, ready not only to work toward assuring the survival of Middle Eastern Christianity, but also – and perhaps motivated by the audacity that great souls discover in moments of profound crisis – to ensure that Christians will have a leading role in the life of the societies in which they participate. “The bishops,” he said, “want Christianity to be the cutting edge of a broader social and cultural transformation in the Middle East.”

The next two weeks the world will be watching as they work to make it so.

Listen to the extended version of Chris Altieri's interview with John Allen... RealAudioMP3


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