Home > Synod > 2010-10-13 17:43:29
A+A-print this page

Intervention of Mons. Maroun Elias LAHHAM, Bishop of Tunis (TUNIS)

To talk about Middle East/Maghreb relations does not mean to speak about Eastern;/Western relations. The Maghreb countries are also a part of the Arab world and the Muslim countries. One should know that there are more Muslims in Northern Africa than in the Middle East. It is true to say that the Middle East has the grace of having some Christian Arab minorities, while Christianity that existed in the first centuries has completely disappeared in the Maghreb region. Today, there are authentic local Churches implanted in the respective countries, but with foreign believers.
My intervention begins with these two points.
- The nations in the Maghreb are part of the Arabic Muslim world. There are a few peculiarities in one country or another. Life in Rabat, in Algiers, in Tunis or in Tripoli is the same as life in Amman, in Damascus, in Baghdad or in Cairo. This can be applied above all to relationships with Islam and in the fact of living the Christian faith in a very different context. The Churches in the Maghreb region have every reason to place themselves in relationship to their sister Churches of the Middle East in this domain, and to bring their specificity as dialogue of life and thought with Islam, a dialogue that lived from the point of view of foreigners and not as fellow citizens.
- The Maghreb Churches are Churches where the faithful are foreigners. In each Church in the Maghreb there are no less than 60 different nationalities. They are Europeans (businessmen, diplomats, residents, retirees, Christian women in mixed marriages...), Africans (students, employees of the African Bank for Development, military personnel, families, immigrants...), some Christian Arabs of the Middle East (Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan) and a handful of locals baptized in the Catholic Church (in Tunisia and in Algeria).
The collaboration required here is an exchange of priests, of religious persons, of consecrated lay persons or of volunteers to work in the parishes and in the different institutes of the Church in Northern Africa. Up until now, it was Europe that provided this. Today, this is no longer feasible, given the decrease in the priestly and religious vocations. Not having any local Christian families or residents for generations, our Churches have two directions in which to turn to for help: Africa and the Middle East.
It is true that the life of a priest in the Middle East does not resemble the life of a priest in the Maghreb context (I can say this from my own experience, being myself, as well as my brother from Algiers, Middle Easterners), however, with the grace of God and a serious effort in adaptation, it is possible and even enriching. For the religious, integration is easier, because they have the support of the community.
“Ask and you shall receive” said the Lord. We have asked, we wait to receive.
[00036-02.03] [IN014] [Original text: French]


About us Schedules Contacts VR Productions Links Other languages Holy See Sede Vatican State Papal liturgies
All the contents on this site are copyrighted ©. Webmaster / Credits / Legal conditions / Advertising