12/06/2005, 00.00
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Causes of fundamentalism must be removed, say Middle Eastern patriarchs

by Jihad Issa
The final statement notes how Middle Eastern government make promises they do not maintain and push segments of the population towards extremism.

Amman (AsiaNews) – The 15th Assembly of Eastern Catholic Patriarchs, chaired by Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Michel Sabbah and held at the convent of the Visitation near Amman, came to an end today. Its focus was "Justice and peace in the Middle East.

In the final communiqué, the seven patriarchs—Coptic Stephanos II Ghattas, Maronite Nasrallah Sfeir, Greek-Melkite Gregorios III Lahham, Syro-Catholic Ignace Pierre VIII Abdel Ahad, Armenian Catholic Nerses Bedros XIX Tarmouni, Chaldean Emmanuel III Delly and Latin Michel Sabbah—condemned terrorism and appealed to the international community to stop the blood-letting in Iraq and the Holy Land.

The patriarchs voiced criticism against those governments that make promises they do not maintain, and those that push segments of the population towards extremism, but they also had words of hope for the young, who are the future of the region and the Church.

Their message highlighted the lack of real peace in many countries of the region and the denial of rights many peoples experience since the conditions for a true life of dignity are absent.

Similarly, the message they conveyed was full of sorrow for the fact that so many governments "promise but do not maintain", which, in their view, has led to greater religious fundamentalism and favoured the development of terrorism.

Their repeated condemnation of terrorism, which has frequently caused death and destruction in Jordan and is widespread in both the West and the East, also comes with a demand that any campaign to fight it include removing its underling causes, namely poverty and the power of rich countries over poor countries.

The patriarchs demanded the foreign debt of poor countries be forgiven and lamented the lack of democracy in so many countries.

They asked the international community to pay closer attention to the blood-letting in the Holy Land and Iraq as well as the conflicts elsewhere.

They appealed to the media to stop broadcasting programmes that sow hatred, encourage fanaticism and criticise other religions.

The Eastern patriarchs also pointed out the sad fate reserved for women in many countries where the fundamental right of every human being to be respected and protected is missing.

Similarly, they stressed the state of prisons, which are far from being places of re-education but are more like concentration camps and torture chambers.

The patriarchs' message also expressed the desire that each and every child be given the necessary and indispensable education that can eliminate child labour.

The seven prelates reiterated their conviction that the future follows an ecumenical path, a "sure way to witness", urging those who were baptised in the Orthodox faith to lead a life that is a beacon of light for everyone without forgetting the heritage and traditions of each religious community.

All this can but favour reconciliation in the Arab world since the welcome mat will be extended to everyone, especially to Muslims, who are the majority in the region.

Finally, the patriarchs welcomed the creation of the John Paul II Institute of Studies on Marriage and the Family within the Maronite University La Sagesse, and greeted favourably the idea of setting up a regional secretariat for catholic youth in the Middle East.

Last but not least, they expressed hope to see the establishment of an episcopal commission on justice and peace in each diocese of the region, affiliated with the Central Commission of the Eastern Catholic Patriarchs Assembly. 

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