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Synod Advocates Christian Unity and Positive Secularism

2010-10-19

P. Pierbattista Pizzaballa 
Custos of the Holy Land
"This is a very complicated situation because the West and the Middle East seems a single reality, but it is not. Lebanon has its problems, which are different from those of Israel and Palestine. Not to mention the Gulf, Iraq, Iran ... They are actually quite complex and different. " 

The bishops of the synod proposed a form of "positive secularism" which would separate religion and politics. Their aim is to iron out religious tensions and to counter the violence in Middle East anti-religious movements. 

During the Synod, cardinals, bishops and representatives of various Christian rites present in the Middle East have also reflected on the unity of Christians. They have called to retain the richness of the rituals and traditions of each Church, but without damaging the solidarity. 

One proposal is to celebrate the Christian and Orthodox Easter on the same day.  Another is to make a unique version of the Lord´s Prayer for the two Churches to drive the process of Christian unity. 

P. Pierbattista Pizzaballa 
Custos of the Holy Land 
"Ecumenical dialogue has been one of the main issues. But the ecumenical dialogue is not an abstract reality. In the Middle East this could mean having the religions feasts together and celebrating in common other some traditions." 

Another major theme of this synod has been the role of Catholic educational institutions in the development of peace. 

Card. John Patrick Foley 
Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem 
"These schools are open to everybody, to teach understanding and understanding to build peace. Personally I think the more we do on behalf of Catholic education, not proselytizing, but as souls who work together for understanding and peace, will be for the good of society. " 

In addition to Catholic schools, the synod has also insisted on the formation of the laity and the priesthood in the Eastern rites.  According to the Synod Fathers, the role of lay people is ever increasing and they are learning the importance the laity plays in understanding the reality their churches and communities face in building bridges with Jews and Muslims. 

These proposals will be voted on by the synod participants to draft an official document with the conclusions of the Synod on the Middle East. 

These are daunting challenges for the Eastern Churches.  Although the synod participants are aware that time is needed to carry them out, they have not lost hope in achieving these goals to build a united and peaceful Middle East. 


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