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Christians in the Muslim World

The Middle East: Minorities, Freedom and Good Government

Rome 30 September~1 october 2005

For the Synod on the Eucharist, bishops from every part of the world came to Rome. This was a rich opportunity for a dialogue on all fronts on the situation of their countries, and the ambassador of France to the Holy See, Pierre Morel, did not allow this opportunity to slip: he gave rise, in the wake of the traditional attention paid by France to the Middle East, to a conference of the very highest level on the Eastern Churches and the situation of the Christian communities in the Arab world. It is impossible to provide an account of the richness of the papers, which were inaugurated by Cardinal Moussa Daoud, the Prefect for the Congregation for the Eastern Churches, and organised according to a mixed, subject-geographical criterion (Egypt, the Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Palestine, but also religious freedom and the paths of dialogue). Many papers emphasised the current crisis that the Middle Eastern Christians are experiencing because of the growth in Islamic fundamentalism in the region and the risk of a significant reduction, if not in some dramatic cases the disappearance, of these millennial communities under the impact of emigration. Amongst the most specific voices in this sense was the testimony of the Chaldean Patriarch of Baghdad, His Blessedness Emmanuel III Delly. However, signs of hope and testimonies of co-operation with the Muslim communities were not absent.