Seven Eastern Catholic patriarchs in Rome for special meeting with Pontiff

Pope Benedict XVI will meet on September 19 with seven patriarchs of Eastern Catholic churches, for a discussion of the challenge posed by militant Islam in the Middle East. The extraordinary meeting is also expected to set the stage for a special Synod of Bishops for the Middle East.

The 7 Eastern patriarchs requested the meeting with the Pontiff, to discuss the increasingly difficult position of Christians in the Middle East, and the prospects for relations with Islam. The meeting will also include a discuss of relations between the Eastern patriarchates and the Vatican, and will address questions about the proper pastoral supervision for Catholic “guest workers” living in Islamic countries, particularly the emirates of the Persian Gulf.

The Eastern prelates who have traveled to Rome for the Saturday meeting are Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir, Melkite Patriarch Gregory III Laham, Chaldean Patriarch Emmanuel III Delly, Armenian Catholicos Bedros XIX, Syrian Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan, Coptic patriarch Antonios Naguib, and Latin-rite Patriarch Fouad Twai of Jerusalem.