RealAudioMP3 The Melkite Patriarch of Damascus himself, Gregorios III (Laham), bluntly admits that the synod was his idea.  Speaking on Tuesday in the Aula of the Synod at the Vatican, he gave a powerful warning about a "clash of religions," if Christianity were to disappear from the Middle East.  In an interview, he told our synod observer Stefan Kempis:

"We have slowly grown into this, so it is interesting to see these bishops doing something like this for the first time: most are bishops new to a synod, but they have felt at ease there.  I thank God for the really congenial Eastern atmosphere at this Synod: there has been enthusiasm, joy and humour.”

There was at times a lively debate, with many problems on the agenda, such as for example, the emigration of many Christians from the Middle East.

"Yes, emigration - and the threat of emigration, means that the Middle East is becoming empty and losing pluralism.  Then more clashes will occur there between Islam and Christianity!  And then the difficult problem of dialogue with Islam came up for discussion.  When we experience fundamentalism, terrorism and terrorist actions, we get the feeling: ‘How can we go on in the face of so many attacks?’  But the majority said: ‘That is our role, to shape the Middle East and gradually bring the different values of Christianity to the predominantly Muslim Arab society.’”

(What were the most interesting ideas and comments you've heard at the Synod?)

"For example, the suggestion of many to hold such a Synod in the Middle East - at a local level. Then there was the desire to do all in our power to put an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, since this conflict is the main reason for most of the multiple crises and wars that have caused Christian emigration.”


(10/13/2010 rv sk)

Link to Vatican Radio article in German: „Orientalisch-heitere Atmosphäre“: Gespräch mit Patriarch Gregorios

Translation from German: V. Chamberlain

Teachings of Christ

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40 ESV)

Lenten Prayer of St. Ephrem

O Lord and Master of my life, drive away from me the spirit of despondency, carelessness, love of power, and idle chatter. (Prostration)

Rather grant to me, Your servant, the spirit of wholeness of being, humility, patience, and love. (Prostration)

Yes, O Lord and King, grant that I may see my own faults and not condemn my brother; for You are blessed to the ages of ages. Amen. (Prostration)

Random Proverb

"Hear, O sons, a father's instruction, and be attentive, that you may gain insight, for I give you good precepts; do not forsake my teaching." (Proverbs 4:1,2 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

Humility is the only thing we need; one can still fall having virtues other than humility -- but with humility one does not fall.

Elder Herman of Mt. Athos