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Church in Iran faces challenge of making faith an ‘authentic spiritual experience’

.- In an interview with Vatican Radio, the president of the Bishops’ Conference of Tehran, Bishop Ramzi Garmou, said the Church in Iran faces the challenge of “helping the faithful move from a sociological and ethnic faith passed on by their parents to a faith that is an authentic spiritual experience, a testimony of life, above all a gift of the Holy Spirit.”

“This step,” he explained, “is necessary and we seek to do so with encounters, meetings, preaching.”  “The other challenge is that of working for the unity of Christians,” he said.  Division “is a scandal for us Christians,” he added.  “We must do everything possible so that Christians can live in communion so that their testimony will be more credible before others. We should also convince ourselves that, while we are a small minority, God can do great works through us,” the bishop said.

 Bishop Garmou also noted that the importance of a Church is “not in its visibility, in its visible grandeur, but in the quality of its faith and in the testimony of its faithful.”

“In the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Christians are recognized officially as a religious minority.  Therefore we have the freedom to worship and to impart Christian formation on our faithful within our Churches.  Our Churches are open for worship and for Christian formation,” the bishop said.  Christians number some 10,000 in Iran out of a population of 70 million, most of whom are Muslim.

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