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Eastern churches will dominate Synod for the Middle East

Catholic World News - October 08, 2010

The Eastern Catholic churches will play a central role in the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East, which opens in Rome on Sunday.

Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, the secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, briefed reporters in Rome on October 8 about plans for the Synod, which will run from October 10 to 24. He emphasized the “variety of traditions, spirituality, liturgy, and disciplines” that will be brought to the Synod by the Eastern Catholic representatives—who will form a majority among the Synod fathers.

Archbishop Eterovic explained to reporters that the Catholic presence in the Middle East is dominated by the “six sui juris Eastern Catholic churches, each with its own patriarch, father and head of the Church: the Coptic Church, the Syrian Church, the Greek-Melkite Church, the Maronite Church, the Chaldean Church, and the Armenian Church.” Pope Benedict has underlined the importance of these Eastern churches by taking the unusual step of appointing two “honorary” presidents of the Synod: Maronite Catholic Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir and Chaldean Catholic Patriarh Emmanuel III Delly.

The Synod will set a new precedent by hearing from three non-Christian speakers, along with representatives of the Orthodox world. The special guests will be David Rosen, the inter-religious affairs director of the American Jewish Committee; and two Muslim leaders, a Lebanese Sunni, Muhammad al Sammak and an Iranian Shi’ite, Shahid Beheshti.

In another “first” for the Synod, Arabic will be one of the official languages used for the discussions, along with Italian, English, and French.

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