The mission of the Church, also in the Middle East, is not to “spread Christian civilization in place of other civilizations”, but to “demonstrate the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives and help others to receive the gift of this Spirit”. With these words, Youssef Absi, Patriarch of Antioch of the Melkites, expressed in a synthetic and effective form the appropriate criterion with which it is convenient to look at the events of the Christian communities scattered in the Middle Eastern area, reported Fides News Agency. “Our presence, especially in the Middle East” clarified the Patriarch “does not depend on our number, our strength, our greatness, and our ability, but rather on the effective work of the Holy Spirit in our lives”.
The setting used by the Patriarch of the Greek-Melkite Catholic Church to expose his precious considerations on the present and future mission of ecclesial communities also in the Middle East was the six-monthly session of the Assembly of Catholic bishops in Egypt, hosted at the church of Santo Stefano, in the neighborhood of al Maadi, on the days of 14 and 15 January. The Assembly was co-chaired by Youssef Absi (who bears the title of Patriarch “of Antioch and the whole East, of Alexandria and Jerusalem”) and by Ibrahim Isaac Sidrak, Patriarch of Alexandria of the Coptic Catholics. The meeting was attended by more than twenty Catholic bishops, men and women religious working in the great country of North Africa, together with Archbishop Nicolas Henry Marie Denis Thevenin, who was appointed Apostolic Nuncio to the Arab Republic of Egypt last November and pontifical delegate to the League of Arab States by Pope Francis.
In the two days spent together, the participants in the assembly also addressed the delicate issue of the impact – often negative – of social media on the lives of ecclesial communities. During the working sessions, the document-contribution of the Catholic Churches related to the draft law on the personal legal status of Christians in Egypt was also drawn up, a contribution that must be delivered to the competent authorities in view of the discussion and promulgation of this law by the Egyptian government.
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