Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Synod for the Middle East:proclaim the Gospel in Muslim countries

Dialogue between the Catholic world and that of Islam requires reciprocity and openness, but also full religious freedom for Christians in the Islamic world, including the right to proclaim the Gospel.

This is the claim put forward by many experts currently involved in drafting the Instrumentum laboris (IL-working guidelines) of the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East to be held at the Vatican October 10 to 24 2010.

Meanwhile, Benedict XVI has appointed the chairmen and rapporteurs for the special gathering.

An important theme focused on in the document currently being prepared is dialogue with Islam. It requires great friendship, but at the same time great clarity. It is necessary to emphasize the urgency of implementing a true freedom of religion, with the right to proclaim the gospel in Muslim countries the same way that Muslims have the right to preach Islam.

The IL, obtained by the integration of the Lineamenta and reponses that have come from different parts of the world, will be published on the occasion of Benedict XVI's visit to Cyprus in June.

Unlike other Synods, which had a much longer period of preparation, the one dedicated to the Middle East has been much shorter perhaps dictated by the urgency of the situation. It was announced shortly after Benedict XVI's visit to the Holy Land last May and the working document (Lineamenta) was published last January 19.

According to experts, the answers received were numerous (at least 200 pages). Many answers coming from Iraq, Egypt, Syria.

Of particular interest are those from the Holy Land (Israel and Palestine), regarding, in particular relations with the Jewish world. The churches – it is said - are "too Arab" and give little witness in the Jewish (and Israeli) world. Some stress the value of the rediscovery of the Jewish roots of Christian faith.

The document also reintroduces vision of Benedict XVI and the Vatican of "two peoples, two states” for Israel and Palestine, so they can live in security and peace within their own borders, eliminating violence as a way to resolve disputes.

Among the responses received by the secretariat, there is one from the Jewish world, none from the Muslim world.

On 24 April, Benedict XVI chose the leaders of the Synod. Three cardinals have been chosen among the synod fathers; Nasrallah Sfeir, Maronite Patriarch of Lebanon, Emmanuel Delly, Chaldean Patriarch of Baghdad, Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches. With them there is the Syrian Catholic Patriarch Ignace Youssif Younan.

The latter is the youngest of the group (66), but he has great experience and international experience, having studied in America.

The general rapporteur, who will make the initial and overall address for the Synod, is the patriarch of Alexandria of the Copts, Mgr. Antonios Naguib, the special secretary will be Mgr. Joseph Soueif, Maronite Archbishop of Cyprus.

SIC: AN

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