Special assembly chance for Universal Church to support Middle Eastern Christians, says Benedict XVI
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.- At last, the Instrumentum laboris for October's Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops has been published and delivered to participating patriarchs and bishops. Before handing the document to participants, the Pontiff explained his hope that the assembly would bring international attention to the difficult situation for Christians in the Middle East.

After Mass on Sunday in Nicosia, Cyprus, the Holy Father gave copies of the working document for the coming Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops to the participants. The document, which will be used by participating Churches to prepare for the Special Assembly, offers a view of the current situation of the Catholic Church in the region, highlighting also the importance of ecclesial communion and Christian witness in the Middle East.

Before giving the 40-page document to each of the patriarchs and bishops, the Holy Father told them that the Special Assembly will serve to deepen the bonds of communion not only between their Churches but also with the Universal Church.

It will also serve to encourage their witness to the faith, in the very places where "this faith was born and grew," said the Pope, and will be an occasion for the global Church to offer spiritual support and solidarity to Middle Eastern Catholics.

The Holy Father went on to recall the importance of the Christian presence in the area and their contribution in "innumerable ways to the common good," desirous of a life of peace and harmony with their neighbors. "You," the Pope said to the gathering, which included nearly 7,000 Cypriots, "deserve recognition for the inestimable role you take on."

He went on to hope for the freedom of religion for all Churches and prayed that the assembly would draw international attention to the "plight of those Christians in the Middle East who suffer for their beliefs, so that just and lasting solutions may be found to the conflicts that cause so much hardship."

Closing, he repeated his appeal for "an urgent and concerted international effort to resolve the ongoing tensions in the Middle East, especially in the Holy Land, before such conflicts lead to greater bloodshed."

The moment of the consignment of the working document was the highlight of the Apostolic Journey and the fundamental purpose of the trip.

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January 29, 2015

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