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Intervention of Mons. Pierre BÜRCHER, Bishop of Reykjavïk (ICELAND)


The Bishops of the Northern Episcopal Conference (NEC), together with their Middle Eastern brothers and sisters, are aware that in addition to the difficult political situation and the confrontation with extremist Muslims, a difficult problem is also the emigration of Christians. This problem can only be resolved with the definitive solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The urgent moment of reconciliation and peace has arrived! The Christians of the Middle East, rather than flee the region, are especially necessary in this vital process of justice and peace. In fact, they have inherited the Christian mandate of forgiveness. Therefore it is not a question of their welcome in foreign lands but more their presence in the Middle East to safeguard a historical culture that is vital for the entire world. Peace is the urgent vocation of the Holy Land! Justice for the three monotheistic religions is that Jerusa¬lem is open to all!
The emigration of Christians coming from Eastern countries has also touched the North of the land. One of the reasons is without a doubt the galloping economic development of the five nordic countries of our episcopal conference. Since its crisis two years ago, we must take Iceland out of this now. These five countries are characterized by a Catholic percentage of only 2 to 3 % of the entire population, the great majority being Lutherans. This corresponds, in several Eastern countries, to the percentage of Christians in relation to Muslims. The pastoral situation in our Northern countries is therefore that of a Diaspora. More so, it is very diversified and achieves positive experiences with priests and religious persons coming from Eastern Nations. In many places, Catholic Churches have been used by Catholic Christians as well as non-Catholics for their Divine Liturgy. This too is a sign of practiced ecumenism!

[00053-02.06] [IN031] [Original text: French]



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