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Pope opens special meeting to discuss plight of Mideast Christians

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Pope opens special meeting to discuss plight of Mideast Christians

Pope Benedict XVI opened a special synod of Roman Catholic bishops from the Middle East on Sunday which aimed to address the problems of Christians living in the troubled region. The conclave will run for two weeks during which time the role of "political Islam" in the flight of local Christians to foreign lands will be under serious discussion for the first time, as well as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Catholic Church has traditionally blamed this conflict for the high rates of Christian emigration from the Middle East, but has now decided to address the larger problem of radical Islam. "Living in a dignified manner in one's own country is, above all, a fundamental human right," the Pope said in his opening homily. "Therefore the conditions of peace and justice, which are necessary for the harmonious development of all those living in the region, should be promoted." Many of the discussions will be conducted in Arabic and the synod will include addresses by a Shi'ite ayatollah from Tehran and an Orthodox Jewish rabbi from Jerusalem. The Pope ended his remarks by urging Middle East Christians not to be discouraged but to "enliven their consciousness of being the living stones of the Church in the Middle East."

 

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