Today, Pope Benedict closed the Special Synod on the Middle East. Here is Vatican Radio’s report:
Pope Benedict calls for peace in the Middle East
Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica this Sunday – the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time – to close the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East. Patriarchs, bishops and priests from the seven different rites of the Church present in the Middle East participated in the liturgy, which featured several elements taken from the various Eastern liturgical traditions, and included the bi-lingual proclamation of the Gospel: in both Latin and the original Greek.
In his homily, Pope Benedict said one important contribution Christians make is the promotion of an authentic freedom of religion and conscience, which he called, “One of the fundamental human rights that each state should always respect.”
He went on to say that, in numerous countries of the Middle East, there exists freedom of belief, while the space given to the freedom to practice religion is often quite limited.
Increasing this space of freedom becomes essential to guarantee to all the members of the various religious communities the true freedom to live and profess their faith.
The Pope also renewed his impassioned appeal for peace in the region, saying, “Conflicts, wars, violence and terrorism have gone on for too long in the Middle East,” and that peace, which is a gift of God, is also the result of the efforts of men of goodwill, of the national and international institutions, in particular of the states most involved in the search for a solution to conflicts.
“We must never resign ourselves to the absence of peace,” said Pope Benedict. “Peace is possible. Peace is urgent. Peace is the indispensable condition for a life of dignity for human beings and society.”
This Sunday also marked World Mission Sunday – which the Holy Father discussed both in his homily and after Mass, in remarks to the faithful gathered beneath his window in the Apostolic Palace to pray the Angelus.
Then he said, “The missionary task is not to revolutionize the world, but transfigure it, drawing strength from Jesus Christ who calls us to the table of His Word and of the Eucharist, to enjoy the gift of his presence, to be formed in His school.”