Special Assembly for the Middle East - The Catholic Church in the Middle East: Communion and Witness (10-24 October 2010)

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Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops

In Session: 10 - 24 October 2010

Synod Fathers: 185

Topic: The Catholic Church in the Middle East: Communion and Witness. "Now the company of those who believed were of one heart and soul" (Acts 4: 32)

The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, personally announced the convocation of the synodal assembly on 19 September 2009, at Castelgandolfo, in a meeting with the heads of the Eastern Catholic Churches sui iuris. At the same time, His Holiness also established the Pre-Synodal Council for the Middle East, whose members included all 7 patriarchs, namely, 6 of the Eastern Catholic Churches sui iuris and the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, and the two presidents of the episcopal conferences of Turkey and Iran. The preparatory documents of the synodal assembly designated, in addition to Jerusalem and the Palestinian Territories, the following 16 countries as the "Middle East": Bahrain, Cyprus, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

The idea of convoking this synodal assembly arose from two pastoral concerns. Firstly, various bishops, primarily from the more troubled regions in the Middle East, for example, Iraq, asked the Holy Father to gather the bishops of the region to listen personally to what they had to say about the oftentimes dramatic situation of the faithful entrusted to their pastoral care, and, with the grace of the Holy Spirit and in episcopal communion, seek possible ways to better the situation, beginning with the internal communion of the Churches and these Churches among themselves. Consultation in the matter came also from cardinals and prelates of the Roman Curia, who had frequent contacts with the Pastors and Christians of the Holy Land, either institutionally or in person. 

Considering the relatively limited time in preparing for this synodal gathering, the Pre-Synodal Council held a series of meetings to draft the Lineamenta, which eventually appeared, on 19 January 2010, in 4 languages (Arabic, English, French and Italian) and was sent to the interested parties in the consultation process. At the same time, the criteria for participation at the synodal assembly were discussed and later approved by the Holy Father. On the basis of responses and observations to the Lineamenta, the Pre-Synodal Council again met to draft the Instrumentum laboris, the "document for work" setting the agenda for the synod, which the Holy Father, during his Apostolic Visit to Cyprus, 4-7 June 2010, personally presented to the members of the Pre-Synodal Council, who represented the entire episcopate of the Middle East.

In addition to the Synodal fathers, a significant number of experts, auditors, fraternal delegates and guests - all with some association with the Church in the Middle East - took part in the synodal assembly, including a rabbi and two Muslim representatives who addressed the assembly.

The Special Assembly for the Middle East resulted in 44 Propositiones, which were released to the public pro hoc vice in an Italian translation. At the synod's conclusion, the members also issued a Message to the People of God (Nuntius). The Special Council, formed during the synodal assembly, then met on various occasions to analyze the documentation from the synod process and drafted its contribution for submission to the Holy Father in his composing the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Medio Oriente, which was signed and presented to the Church in the Middle East, during the Holy Father's Apostolic Visit to Lebanon, 14-16 September 2012.



S. B. Em. Card. Nasrallah Pierre SFEIR, Patriarca di Antiochia dei Maroniti, Vescovo di Joubbé, Sarba e Jounieh dei Maroniti (LIBANO), ad honorem
S. B. Em. Card. Emmanuel III DELLY, Patriarca di Babilonia dei Caldei (IRAQ), ad honorem
S. Em. R. Card. Leonardo SANDRI, Prefetto della Congregazione per le Chiese Orientali (CITTÀ DEL VATICANO)
S. B. Ignace Youssif III YOUNAN, Patriarca di Antiochia dei Siri (LIBANO)

General Secretary

S.E.R. Mons. Nikola ETEROVIĆ, Arcivescovo tit. di Cibale (CITTÀ DEL VATICANO)

General Rapporteur

S. B. Antonios NAGUIB, Patriarca di Alessandria dei Copti (REPUBBLICA ARABA DI EGITTO)

Special Secretary

S. E. R. Mons. Joseph SOUEIF, Arcivescovo di Cipro dei Maroniti (CIPRO)


Documents of  Special Assembly for the Middle East