Friday marked the final day of the Continental Synodal Assembly of the Catholic Churches of the Middle East.
Vatican News’ Jean-Pierre Yammine was in Beirut for the meeting, and spoke to youth representatives of the various Churches present.
“Really ‘walking together’, not just in name”
One of these young delegates was Safa al-Abbia, from Iraq, who was in Beirut as a representative of the Chaldean Catholic Church.
He admitted that, upon arriving at the Continental Assembly, while he wasn’t “fully hopeless”, he did ask himself whether the Synod would solve “even one of our one hundred problems.”
“But,” he continued, “when I started sharing, talking with people from other countries, I just started to feel hopeful again. First of all, we have to have faith and hope, in God and the Holy Spirit, and let them work on us as a people. We have to be faithful, and hopeful that we can do something, even if it’s small. It’s important to do something, because even a thousand miles start with a single step.”
Asked about his hopes for the Synod (a word which comes from the Greek words for “together” and “journey”), al-Abbia said that “the most important hope is in the title ‘Synod’: walking together.”
“I hope that we really walk together, not just in name or by talking,” he concluded.
Young people “engines of change”
Mira Naaime, a member of the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch, was also at the assembly, as a representative of the Orthodox Youth Movement. Participating in the Synod, she said, had been a “very enlightening” experience, opening up “new perspectives”.
The key element of the assembly, she said, is “walking the path together. This is what I’m going to take with me.” Naaime said that she had been impressed by the efforts of the Catholic Church in this direction, and suggested that this was an example that “should be followed by everyone.”
She called on young Christians across the world to get involved in synodal processes in their Churches: “You are the engine of change, and change cannot happen if you stay at home, if you do not fight for what you believe in, and if you do not advocate for truth and honesty in the Church.”
By Joseph Tulloch and Fr. Jean Pierre Yammine