JERUSALEM, October 25, 2010 – On Thursday, October 21, Bishop Younan was invited to address Pope Benedict XVI and the Synod of Bishops at the Special Assembly for the Middle East at the Vatican in Rome.
The Special Synod, which convened on October 10, brought together with Pope Benedict XVI “both cardinals and archbishops, who are heads of the various offices in the Roman Curia, presidents of episcopal conferences around the world, who are concerned with the issues of the Middle East, [and] representatives from the Orthodox Churches and ecclesial communities and Jewish and Muslim guests.”
In Bishop Younan’s address to the Special Assembly, he expressed gratitude for the initiative of the Synod in caring for Christians in the Middle East, and stressed the importance of strengthened ecumenical relations both in Israel-Palestine and in the whole Middle East.
In conclusion, Bishop Younan spoke of the challenges facing the church, saying “Our challenge is nothing less than loving our neighbors as ourselves. Many confess to loving God, but how can they love God whom they have not seen, when they do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen? (1 John 4.20)”
In the Concluding Statement from the Special Assembly of the Middle East, released Friday, October 22, the Synod of Bishops also reflected on challenges and aspirations of the church in the Middle East, and issued appeals to Catholic members throughout the world, ecumenical partners, Jewish and Muslim dialogue partners, and local as well as international political and social leaders.
In the Synod’s appeal to the international community, they urged all “to work to find a peaceful, just and definitive solution in the region, through the application of the [UN] Security Council’s resolutions and taking the necessary legal steps to put an end to the occupation of the different Arab territories” (VII.11).
The Synod also spoke out in condemnation of violence and terrorism, saying, “We condemn all forms of racism, anti-Semitism, anti-Christianism and Islamophobia and we call upon the religions to assume their responsibility to promote dialogue between cultures and civilisations in our region and in the entire world.