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Rome celebrates first Mass in Arabic

2010-02-26

Starting in 2010, Santa Maria in Cosmedin is celebrating the Gospel in Arabic every Thursday.
For Razer-Francois Bitar of Syria, preaching in ones native tongue is as essential as taking the daily bread.

Razer-Francois Bitar
“Worshipping God is a very personal thing, the relation with your heart and God is something you have to grow up with so how could it be if not in your own language.”

The church belongs to the Melkite Greek Catholic Church. Many of the worshipers here were born in the Middle East and were born Christian.

Msgr. Mtanius Hadad
Rector of the Basilica

“People tend to think everyone who is from the Middle East is Muslim, but that’s not true, this is a church that speaks Arabic, we are Christian, we were baptized Christian, we are happy.”

But while these parishioners can now practice their faith in their own language, back home, Christians like them are finding it impossible to practice their faith all together. They’re finding themselves as a minority in the place where Christianity was born.

Razer-Francois Bitar
“Christianity came from the Middle East, its roots are almost there from the very beginning of Christ, we in the Middle East want to conserve our faith and practice it among a lot of different religions in the Muslim world.”

Msgr. Mtanius Hadad
Rector of the Basilica

“Slowly since about the 7th century there’s been difficulties. The truth is there have been so many Christians who converted to Islam but it’s impossible for Muslims to convert to Christianity .”

These issues and others including the situation of Catholics in the Middle East and ecumenical dialogue will be addressed later this year at the special synod on the Middle East.  
But for now, Christian Arabs in Rome are  thankful they’re seeing and hearing a sign of progress.

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