Padre Rouphael Zougheib
Nicosia (Agenzia Fides) - The Symposium of Churches in the Middle East, "Rooted in Hope," is nearing its conclusion. The initiative is promoted by R.O.A.C.O. (Reunion of Aid Agencies to the Oriental Churches),and welcomed by the Dicastery of the Oriental Churches to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation "Ecclesia in Medio Oriente", signed on September 14, 2012, by Pope Benedict XVI during his apostolic journey to Lebanon.
The meeting, hosted in Nicosia from April 20 to 23, was attended by the Patriarchs of all the Catholic Churches in the Middle East, along with nuncios, bishops, priests, men and women religious, lay people, as well as ambassadors and diplomatic representatives.
In his opening greeting, Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti, Prefect of the Dicastery for the Oriental Churches, pointed out how "suffering and poverty for strongly intertwined religious and political reasons have not been lacking in the Holy Land (understood as the whole area) of the Middle East cradle of Christianity". He continued, "We are here with you to pay tribute to your heroic efforts to be witnesses of our common faith amidst problems of all kinds" in this "land of saints and above all of martyrs." "In addition to the internal and religious oppositions that have caused frightful bloodshed among political contracts in these areas," added Prefect Gugerotti, "we Westerners bear heavy responsibilities in destabilizing local conditions, however objective it may be that our good intentions in our midst have brought a terrible contribution to your tragedy along with another forgetfulness, the tendency to export our culture and demand that others conform their lives to it. We, Western Catholics, apologize for having sometimes indulged in this short-sighted vision". Prefect Gugerotti also underlined that the Nicosia Conference was not intended "to be an expression of the style described above".
Various contributions filled the days of work, with an intense program of speeches and discussions around round tables. In the first report given by Bishop Paolo Martinelli, Apostolic Vicar of South Arabia (Arabian Peninsula), the importance of Christian formation in educating generations in the Christian vocation to share the theological virtue of hope with all was recalled. In his contribution and and giving the historical overview of the initiatives promoted by the various popes, starting from the "seeds sown in Assisi" with the meeting organized by John Paul II in 2002 and concluding with the signing of the document of fraternity and multiple trips made to various countries of the Middle East, Professor Youssef Kamal El Hage recalled how the Middle East was particularly afflicted by the proliferation of religious fundamentalism right after the publication of the exhortation "Ecclesia in Medio Oriente". Among the important reports were those of Mr. Nadim Ammann, of Professor Mirna Abboud Mzawak and that of Dr. Viola Raheb who, referring to points 26 and 27 of the Exhortation, explained in her speech the intrinsic relationship between religious freedom and citizenship. Citing the document "We have chosen life in abundance - Christians in the Middle East: Towards Renewed Theological, Social, and Political Choices" (see Fides, 28/9/2021), the speaker spoke about the important role of Youth. (PR) (Agenzia Fides, 22/4/2023)