Churches of the Middle East urge more ecumenical, theological and social cooperation

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The executive committee’s third meeting was held on January 21 and 22. Christian leaders re-launch appeal for the release of the two bishops kidnapped in Syria. The political and institutional situation in the area is worrying, from Lebanon to Iraq. Greater support for Christians in Palestine, victims of occupation and isolation.

Larnaca (AsiaNews) – Promote “ecumenical cooperation” between the Churches of the Middle East in the theological, social and media fields, with the aim of giving ever greater witness to Christ in a “unitified” perspective.

This is what the executive committee of the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC) asks, at the conclusion of the third meeting held on January 21 and 22 in Larnaca (Cyprus), chaired by John X Yazigi, patriarch of Antioch and Greek Orthodox primate. In the final release, Christian leaders also asked to pray for the “release” of Yohana Ibrahim and Boulos Yaziji, kidnapped in Syria in April 2013 and of whom there is no known information.

The political and institutional situation in the various Middle East countries, marked by wars, ethnic-confessional violence and massive exodus are among the concerns of the members of the MECC, which underline the “escalation of tension” in the region and throughout the Arab world.

The meeting, held on the island disputed between the Greek Cypriot majority and the Turkish Cypriot minority, was also attended by Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako, Chaldean patriarch, Rev. Habib Badr, president of the Lebanese Evangelical Union and the Patriarch of the Syrian Orthodox Church Mar Ignatios Afram II.

Delegates from Cyprus, Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan and Palestine were present at the third meeting of the executive committee. An appointment, the participants note, which comes in the midst of “bloody events and pains” that afflict the nations of the Middle East and in an atmosphere of “suffering, pain and challenges” for the peoples of the region, “including the Churches”. For this reason they ask for greater “solidarity and closeness” to the “sons and daughters of the Eastern Churches”, the first witnesses of Christ in a growing context of “challenges”.

In the first of the two days of work, challenges were discussed in the areas of spiritual renewal, ecumenism and interreligious dialogue, as well as the strengthening and institutional development of the Council itself. The second day was dedicated to the discussion of the report of the secretary general, Dr. Souraya Bechealany, which includes the results of the Council in 2019 and future prospects, also from a financial perspective.

The final declaration paid particular attention to Iraq and the anti-government protest movement which risks destabilizing a country already in difficulty. And again, the “suffering” of the Syrian people demanding an end to the siege and the resumption of a path that leads to the construction of peace and security, combined with the return of the displaced.

A thought is then dedicated to the Lebanese people and their peaceful protest, for a dignified life and the end of an endemic and widespread corruption that has fueled discontent. There was also praise for efforts to “restore unity on the island of Cyprus”.

The Christian leaders call for greater support for churches in Palestine despite suffering “in light of the occupation, apartheid policy and isolation”, along with respect for the legal status and status quo on East Jerusalem, the capital of a future Palestinian state .

The also addressed an invitation to all the peoples of the region to unite according to a criterion of “full citizenship” which is made up of “rights and duties” in a context of “diversity” which is a source of “wealth”. The appointment is now set for the MECC general meeting, scheduled from 16 to 19 September in Lebanon with the motto “Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid!” (Matthew, 14:27).,-theological-and-social-cooperation-49101.html