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    » 11/24/2008, 00.00

    VATICAN

    Pope: saddened and concerned over situation in Lebanon and entire Middle East



    Meeting with Aram I, catholicos of Cilicia of the Armenians, Benedict XVI also speaks of the persecution against the Christians taking place in the Middle East and "elsewhere." Progress along the path of ecumenism, and the hope that the mixed commission will fruitfully continue with its work.

    Vatican City (AsiaNews) - The pope is "saddened" and "concerned" over the situation in Lebanon and the entire Middle East, where the conflicts continue and persecution against Christians is on the rise. "Only when the countries involved can determine their own destiny, and the various ethnic groups and religious communities accept and respect each other fully, will peace be built on the solid foundations of solidarity, justice and respect for the legitimate rights of individuals and peoples."

    The visit to the Vatican by Aram I, catholicos of Cilicia of the Armenians, located in Antelias, near Beirut, gave Benedict XVI the opportunity to express the "deep concern" of the Holy See for Lebanon and the entire Middle East - where "tensions and conflicts continue to frustrate all efforts to foster reconciliation and peace at every level of civil and political life" - but also to emphasize the progress in the journey of ecumenism.

    Having recalled the positive role played by the see of Cilicia in the dialogue between Catholics and Orthodox, "we must be hopeful that this dialogue will continue to move forward, since it promises to clarify theological issues which have divided us in the past but now appear open to greater consensus." "I am confident," he continued, "that the current work of the International Commission - devoted to the theme: 'The Nature, Constitution and Mission of the Church' - will enable many of the specific issues of our theological dialogue to find their proper context and resolution."

    "Surely the growth in understanding, respect and cooperation which has emerged from ecumenical dialogue promises much for the proclamation of the Gospel in our time."

    The pope finally recalled the "unspeakable suffering" that the Armenian people have experienced in the twentieth century, as the culmination of their Christian testimony.

    At the end of the meeting, held in the Sala dei Papi, Benedict XVI and Aram I presided over an ecumenical celebration in the "Redemptoris Mater" chapel in the apostolic palace.

    The visit of Aram I to the Vatican - where he went in 1997 for a meeting with John Paul II (in the photo) - will include another meeting with the pope, on Wednesday, and a series of events including a visit to the basilica of St. Paul's Outside the Walls, a prayer meeting at Santa Maria in Trastevere, the celebration of vespers in the church of San Bartolomeo on the Isola Tiberina, dedicated to the martyrs of the twentieth century, conversations with Vatican leaders, from Cardinal Bertone to Cardinal Kasper to Cardinal Tauran, and a lecture at the Pontifical Urbaniana University, on Tuesday, on the topic "The Christians in the Middle East."

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    See also

    19/01/2010 VATICAN-MIDDLE EAST
    Churches of the Middle East: witnesses of Jesus in a world with more shadows than lights
    The working document of the Synod for the Middle East outlines the situation of Christians in the region and their future prospects. Life in Muslim countries as non-citizens, and while political Islam is growing. The need for ecumenical dialogue. The difficulties of Christians living in Arab countries and relations with the Jewish world.

    25/11/2008 TURKEY
    Silent little churches in the land of St. Paul
    For many pilgrims in Turkey, the Pauline Year is an opportunity to find in Tarsus, Antioch, and Ephesus the stones of an ancient past, and the laborious present of a Christian community quenched to a glimmer and marginalized by secularism and by Islam. But they are also a small seed, where it is possible to discover the very mission of St. Paul, unity and charity.

    10/06/2005 JORDAN
    'Agreement and harmony' among Eastern Christians, say Orthodox Copts
    Interview with Pope Shenouda III: the dialogue with Catholics, which is stalled over the Petrine primacy, must be renewed. Christians' flight from the Middle East is worrisome. Church property belongs to the faithful and cannot be sold.

    16/02/2010 LEBANON - MIDDLE EAST
    Bishop of Tyre: Christians in Lebanon have become a minority in their country
    Mgr Georges Bacouni, Greek-catholic archbishop of Tyre recounts the difficulties of the Christian community marked by a demographic reduction and political nausea. The pending Synod for the Middle East next October.

    20/02/2010 VATICAN - LEBANON
    Pope to Hariri: Lebanon, a model of coexistence and "message" for the entire Middle East
    This morning, Benedict XVI received the Prime Minister of Lebanon Saad Hariri in audience. The coexistence of different religious communities in the country is a model for the entire Middle East region. At the Synod of Bishops of the Middle East the task of promoting dialogue “between cultures and religions. "



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