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» 10/11/2010
Pope: anonymous capital, terrorism and drugs, destructive false gods of our time
The data offered to the Synod for the Middle East: Catholics are 1.60% of the population. Declining in countries of ancient Christian tradition, increasing through immigration in others, such as Saudi Arabia. Criticism of Israel’s oath of allegiance to the"Jewish State".

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Anonymous capitals, forms of life that have trivialized immorality, the terrorist ideologies carried out in the name of God, drugs: these are all "false gods who destroy the world” of today and which "must fall”. This according to Benedict XVI whos spoke off the cuff this morning at the opening session (see photo) of the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East.

Among these "false gods", the Pope pointed out anonymous capitals, "one of the great powers of our history," a contemporary form of slavery. "The anonymous capital makes a slave of man", he said, adding that "they are no longer things of man but have become an anonymous power that man serves, and for which he suffers and dies." "This is a destructive power that threatens the world."

Benedict XVI made similar considerations regarding the "power of terrorist ideologies, promoted in the name of God which must be" unmasked ". "It is apparently in the name of God that these acts of violence are carried out, but it has nothing to do with God and instead everything to do with false gods that must be exposed”.

Then there is "drugs, this power that like a voracious beast puts its hands on the earth and destroys it." Finally, "forms of life touted by the public opinion today for which values like marriage count for nothing anymore, chastity is no longer a virtue and so on."

The Pope drew a parallel between the early days of Christianity, when "the blood of martyrs" "weakened the false gods of the Emperor" and the world today. Even now "the blood of the martyrs” is needed, “the cry of pain of the Mother Church which topples, which transforms the world ... which does not take in false idols". "We are battling against the false gods who destroy the world" and all the false gods "must fall",  that which Paul proclaims in his letter to the Ephesians must be realized: "those who dominate must fall and become the subjects of the one Lord, Jesus Christ".

The work of the 185 synod fathers, meanwhile, today saw today reading the "Relatio ante disceptationem," the report before the debate. During his illustration to journalists, the oath of allegiance to the "Jewish and democratic state" that Israel is preparing to demand of its new citizens was defined by Mgr. Bechara Rai Maronite Bishop of Jbeil of the Maronites (Lebanon), as factor which characterizes a State as "sectarian" – be it Jewish or Muslim - and that makes Christians "second-class citizens".

Mgr. Antonio Naguib, Patriarch of the Coptic Catholic Church of Egypt, and the relater general of the synod, said that an oath of loyalty such as this "is a contradiction, something illogical, contrary to democratic principles which says it wants to promote". "I personally believe it is a massive contradiction." "You can not - he added - affirm and announce publicly that you are a democratic state, a civilised state and at the same time say that in this democracy imposes such a thing." "It is very strange that this happens in a country that claims to be democratic," moreover which claims to be "the only democratic state in the Middle East, it is a blatant contradiction."

The plight of Christians in the region was mentioned at the opening of proceedings, by Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for Oriental Churches, president delegate of the Synod. "While registering a slight improvement of the situation - he said, among other things - in certain contexts Catholics along with other Christians, still suffer from hostility, harassment and failure to respect their fundamental right to religious freedom. Terrorism and other forms of violence do not even spare our Jewish and Muslims brothers. In human episodes are increasing and targeting innocent victims. The loss of people and goods, and reasonable future prospects, creates the reality of migration, which is sad and unfortunately is continuing despite some positive exceptions. This anguish - he concluded - frequently emerges to poses the crucial question whether there may be days of true peace and prosperity in the Middle East or whether the very future survival of the plebs sancta Dei is at stake".

Data on the Christian presence in the Middle East was offered in the "relatio" by the Secretary-General of the Synod, ARchbishop Nicola Eterovic. In the Middle East, he said, "there are 356,174,000 people, of which 5,707,000 Catholics, who represent the 1. 60% of the population. This data is taken from the Annuarium Statisticum Ecclesiae 2008 in its latest edition of 2010. But it has not been easy to have reliable data on the number of Christians in the Middle East. " "Their number is approximately 20,101,866 people and that is 5.90% of the population. The data, although a guideline, gives the idea of the minority Christian presence in the Muslim-majority region, except Israel, where Jews are 75.6%, Muslims 16.7% Christians 2.1%, Druze 1.6%, others 4%”.

The report identifies two regions of the Middle East. "The first where Christians have long been present and which, unfortunately, as a whole show a sharp decline, even in comparison with data from 1980 and not so much in the number of Catholics as a percentage in their respective countries. The number of Catholics did not follow the demographic growth of the population. The second group represents the countries where the Christian presence has greatly increased in recent decades due to the many faithful who are looking for work and better living conditions who have come to live there for a certain period of time. Thank God, in these countries the trend is to the contrary, given that Catholics increase both in number and in percentage. It is one of the signs of the times that the whole Church and the pastors of the Middle East must properly assess, giving thanks to God who can write at times with unexpected ways the history of salvation of the world".   

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See also
Synod for the Middle East:proclaim the Gospel in Muslim countries
Churches of the Middle East: witnesses of Jesus in a world with more shadows than lights
Pope: Synod to reinforce solidarity among Christians of the Middle East
Fr. Samir: Disappearance of Churches of the Middle East, a tragedy for Christians and Muslims
by Samir Khalil Samir
Synod for the Middle East to strengthen the Christian identity and promote ecumenism

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