The Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East will take place in Rome from 10 to 24 of October. Decided upon by Pope Benedict XVI following his journey to the Holy Land in May 2009, this extraordinary Synod Assembly has the task of confronting crucial questions and carries high hopes in itself. In the past few years, in fact, the future of the life of Christians in the Holy Land has become progressively dangerous. For several decades a significant diaspora of Arab Christians has taken place from the Middle East towards Europe and the Americas. Christians leave in search of better living conditions, but they also leave to escape war and discrimination. The waning of a Christian presence in areas of strong conflict increases the level of collision between extremists and weakens the opportunity for dialogue, and therefore the possibility of long-lasting peace.
During the October Synod, the Bishops of an increasingly large Middle Eastern area, from North Africa to Iran, from Turkey to the Arabian peninsula, will have the opportunity to meet and discuss these problems. Representatives of Islam and Judaism will also participate in the meetings and workshops.
“It is the first time that a regional and not a continental Synod dedicated to the Middle East will take place, and it’s a concrete sign of how close the Church is to this problematic situation (…). The subjects which may be discussed in the Assembly have already surfaced in the meeting of the patriarchs, including the growth of fundamentalism, education and emigration. (…) The theme of the Synod also mentions testimony and communion. The Christians in the region are noted for the fact that although they are few in number, they are not always united; communion could prove to be something important on which to work . (…)” – Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Custos of the Holy Land
You can follow the updates on the preparations for the Synod visit thanks to the Franciscan Media Center, the multimedia centre of the Custody of the Holy Land, which broadcasts a weekly newscast also broadcast on ATS pro Terra Sancta www.proterrasancta.org! The Synod special can be accessed in the dedicated section on the site of the Custody of the Holy Land.