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Middle East synod to help Christians witness in Muslim countries

.- During meetings at the Holy See from April 23-24, Middle Eastern patriarchs and Vatican prefects drew up a draft of the working document for the coming Synod. They foresee that the October assembly will strengthen Christians, revive communion between the Churches of the region, and give guidance to Christians on how to evangelize in Muslim-majority countries. This was the third meeting of the pre-synodal council in preparation for the Middle East synod which will be held at the Vatican from October 10-24.

In a May 3 statement describing the proceedings and results of the meetings, the Vatican underscored the two major objectives of the Synod as "to confirm and strengthen Christians in their identity through the Word of God and the Sacraments, and to revive the ecclesial communion between the Churches, so they may be an genuine Christian witness, in contact with other Churches and ecclesial communities.”

Organizers called the assembly "a valuable opportunity to also examine the religious and social situation, to give Christians a clear vision of how to be active witnesses of Christ in the context of Muslim-majority society."

It will also provide a forum to reflect on the present situation, which the pre-synodal council acknowledges is "not easy due to conflicts and instability which causes the exodus of the population, including many Christians."

Work over the course of the two days of preparatory meetings was focused on integrating information from a Vatican questionnaire called the “Lineamenta,” sent to participating Churches to gauge their present situations and major issues.

This, combined with additional contributions from Eastern Catholic Churches, episcopal conferences, departments of the Roman Curia and several religious institutions, led to the creation of the draft of the working document (instrumentum laboris), which in its final form will serve both as a brief and an agenda during the synod.

The statement goes on to describe the joy of participants upon being invited to participate in Mass with the Holy Father during his Apostolic Journey to Cyprus from June 4 - 6, when he will deliver the final working document for the Synod.

The pre-synodal meetings concluded with a prayer for the assembly and the entire Church in the Middle East, which "despite the difficulties of the present time, relying on divine providence, remains confident of a future of peace, justice and respectful collaboration with followers of Judaism and Islam, for the good of all inhabitants of the region."

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