11/05/2012, 00.00
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Msgr. Sako: from laity’s "charisma", a new Christian presence in the Middle East

by Joseph Mahmoud
Commenting on the Ecclesia in Medio Oriente, the Archbishop of Kirkuk invokes "truth and charity" in relations with Muslims and in the profession of faith. Reform and renewal the two key elements for a new evangelization. And the hope of a "real exchange" between the churches of East and West.

Kirkuk (AsiaNews) - Strengthening the role of the laity as "full members" of the Church and promoting the values of "truth and charity", these are the guidelines for Christians in relation to Muslims and the profession of faith in a land where they are a persecuted minority. These according to Archbishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk, in northern Iraq, iare the most important elements of the Apostolic Exhortation "Ecclesia in Medio Oriente", published by Benedict XVI in his last trip to Lebanon. Asked by L'oeuvre d'Orient, the French Catholic movement that is highly active in the region, the Iraqi prelate hopes that the Apostolic exhortation will be strong opportunity for renewal "for us and for the universal Church".

During his recent trip to the Land of the Cedars, in mid-September, Pope Benedict XVI signed the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation " Ecclesia in Medio Oriente", which stresses the need for "unity and testimony" of Christians in the region. The document follows the work of the Synod held in the Vatican in October 2010 and is centered on the presence of the religious minority in an area that has been a theatre of decades-long violence and conflict which have yet to be resolved.

Commenting on the papal document, Msgr. Sako recalls its elements of reform and renewal: "A time of liturgical reform - explains the prelate - a pastoral and spiritual renewal, a renewal of structures and discipline in formation, a renewal of the commitment to evangelization".

The Archbishop of Kirkuk, a land battered by an interconfessional conflict among Arabs, Turkmen and Kurds, also calls for a "genuine dialogue" with the "Sister Churches," not to mention "dialogue with Islam", based on "truth and charity", which thus far has been of "too much" form and too little substance. "And that has not helped - he added- towards any progress". Msgr. Sako launches a warning to the Eastern Churches, on which Vatican II "didn't have a big impact" and as a direct result of this "a real exchange between the churches of East and West" is needed so that they can "learn from each other ".

Finally, the Archbishop of Kirkuk notes the need to enhance the role of the laity as "real" members of the Church and whose "charisms" are necessary for its growth and development. "It is necessary that all members of the family- he concluded - participate in a concrete way in the life of the community" including "young people, children, women and married couples". These are today's "challenges", to be understood "in the light of the Gospel".



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