Home   |  About Us   |  Contacts   |  Products    
 News Items
 Top Stories
 News Briefs
 Also Featuring
 Movie Reviews
 Sunday Scripture
 CNS Blog
 Links to Clients
 Major Events
 2008 papal visit
 World Youth Day
 John Paul II
 For Clients
 Client Login
 CNS Insider
 We're also on ...
 RSS Feeds
 Top Stories
 Movie Reviews
 CNS Blog
 For More Info

 If you would like
 more information
 about Catholic
 News Service,
 please contact
 CNS at one of
 the following:
 (202) 541-3250


 This material
 may not
 be published,
 rewritten or
 except by
 linking to
 a page on
 this site.

 CNS Story:

MIDEAST-SYNOD Sep-18-2009 (450 words) xxxi

Pope ready to announce synod on Middle East for 2010

By John Thavis
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Vatican sources said Pope Benedict XVI was preparing to convene a Synod of Bishops for the Middle East to be held in October of 2010, to address the trials and tribulations of the Christian population in the region.

Patriarchs and other representatives from Eastern churches arrived in Rome Sept. 18, and the pope was to meet with them the next day to discuss the initiative, the sources said. An announcement of the synod was expected in coming days.

Pope Benedict has spoken frequently about the pressures faced by Christian and Catholic minorities in the Middle East, particularly in the Holy Land and in Iraq. The synod would provide an opportunity for a much-needed strategizing session at the level of the universal church, one source said.

The Vatican press office would not confirm reports of a Middle East synod, but it released the names of 11patriarchs and other representatives meeting the pope Sept. 19 at his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo.

They included the Chaldean patriarch, Cardinal Emmanuel-Karim Delly of Baghdad, Iraq; Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal of Jerusalem; the Lebanon-based Maronite patriarch, Cardinal Nasrallah P. Sfeir; and representatives of the Ukrainian, Syro-Malabar, Coptic, Melkite, Syrian, Armenian, Romanian and Syro-Malankar rites.

Last January, Chaldean Archbishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk, Iraq, and other Iraqi bishops in Rome for their "ad limina" visits asked the pope to convene a special synod for the churches of the Middle East.

Archbishop Sako said the priority topics for such a synod would include the problem of Christians fleeing the Middle East, paying Christian witness in a predominantly Muslim world, relations with Muslims, the role of Christians in civil and political life, lack of full religious freedom and Christians' prospects for the future.

Bishop Maroun Lahham of Tunis, Tunisia, a Jordanian native of Palestinian parentage, told Catholic News Service earlier this year that when the church discusses Asia -- as it did in a 1998 synod for that region -- "it's the Philippines, India, Japan, not the Middle East."

Bishops Lahham, who worked as a priest in the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem as well as in the United Arab Emirates, said while the Middle East is technically part of the Asian land mass, "the issues ... were very unlike those" in typically Asian countries.

"We didn't feel (the Asian synod) was meant for us," said the bishop, who was head of the seminary in Beit Jalla, West Bank, at the time.

- - -

Contributing to this story was Pat Morrison in Tunisia.


Copyright (c) 2009 Catholic News Service/USCCB. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed.
CNS · 3211 Fourth St NE · Washington DC 20017 · 202.541.3250