October 11, 2010.
The Pope celebrated the opening Mass of the Synod of the Middle East in St Peter’s basilica along with the meeting’s 177 participants. Prayers were in Turkish, Persian and Hebrew as well as Italian, Latin and Arabic.
During his homily, Benedict XVI urged the international community to support “reliable” ways to build peace.
At the same time he asked the representatives of major religions in the region, especially Muslims, to promote spiritual and cultural values that unite people and exclude violence.
He also called on Christians to be an example of forgiveness and reconciliation.
“Christians will continue to contribute not only with work of social promotion, such as education and healthcare, but above all with the spirit of the evangelical Beatitudes which enliven the practice of forgiveness and reconciliation.”
The Pope said the synod is primarily a “pastoral” meeting. That is, the important thing is to analyze the mission of the different churches in the Middle East, but not to ignore the "dramatic" political and social situation experienced in certain countries.
He therefore said this meeting should improve the internal union of different churches, and strengthen the relationship between all the churches present in the Middle East.
“This occasion is also propitious for a constructive continuation of dialogue with Jews, to whom we are tied by the indissoluble bond of the long history of the Covenant, as we are with Muslims.”
The Pope stressed that without unity among the churches, it’s not possible to speak of God's salvation. And this unity, he said, is a gift and not something dependent on man.