The leaders of the Mid-Eastern Churches reiterated a unique feature of their communities as a connection between Christianity and Islam. They called on the Muslim world to firmly condemn terrorism that harms Islam itself above all else.
Beriut (AsiaNews) Catholic Patriarchs of the Orient have drawn attention to the need to combat political instability and its impact on economic, security and social levels, as well as psychological and moral alienation, all fundamental causes of the emigration of Christians from the East. The dwindling presence of Christians in Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq and the entire region, was at the heart of the sixteenth assembly of Catholic Patriarchs of the Orient, which was held at the seat of the Armenian Catholic patriarchate in Bzommar. The meeting ended yesterday.
Dedicated to the "Church and earth", the assembly upheld a significant feature of the eastern Churches, namely that they are a connection between Christianity and Islam, saying that this link, which makes dialogue possible, should not be broken. Lebanon "remains a source of hope", they continued, and it "must play an effective role" in the construction of the East as a place open to co-existence. In a statement issued at the close of the meeting, they said: "Our message is in the first place that of safeguarding co-existence in the face of aggravating conflict of cultures and religions".
In the final document, expressing solidarity with their faithful in other countries of the region, the leaders of the Catholic Churches of the Orient exhorted "Muslim organizations to vigorously condemn terrorist actions committed, at times, in the name of the Muslim faith." They added: "We know that the true Islam and the Koran are innocent of any violence. These actions do not only harm Islam, but they also destroy co-existence that has been there for so many generations, especially in Iraq."
The leaders of the Churches of the Orient expressed hope that the "Lebanese will unify ranks and work together in rebuilding what has been destroyed in order to regain their normal life." And turning to the Palestinian and Israeli peoples, it urged the two peoples "to deploy all efforts to reach a fair and lasting peace."
During their conference, the patriarchs also approved, in principle, the establishment of a human rights observatory in the Middle East and renewed their backing for audio-visual means of communication for the Church.
The meeting gathered the following patriarchs: Maronite, Nasrallah Sfeir, Greek-Melchite, Gregory III Laham, Coptic, Antonios Nagib, Syrian-Catholic, Boutros VIII Abdel Ahad, Latin of Jerusalem, Michel Sabbah, Chaldean, Emmanuel III Delly, as well as the host, the Armenian Catholic patriarch, Narsis Bedros XIX.