RealAudioMP3 The Melkite Patriarch of Damascus himself, Gregorios III (Laham), bluntly admits that the synod was his idea.  Speaking on Tuesday in the Aula of the Synod at the Vatican, he gave a powerful warning about a "clash of religions," if Christianity were to disappear from the Middle East.  In an interview, he told our synod observer Stefan Kempis:

"We have slowly grown into this, so it is interesting to see these bishops doing something like this for the first time: most are bishops new to a synod, but they have felt at ease there.  I thank God for the really congenial Eastern atmosphere at this Synod: there has been enthusiasm, joy and humour.”

There was at times a lively debate, with many problems on the agenda, such as for example, the emigration of many Christians from the Middle East.

"Yes, emigration - and the threat of emigration, means that the Middle East is becoming empty and losing pluralism.  Then more clashes will occur there between Islam and Christianity!  And then the difficult problem of dialogue with Islam came up for discussion.  When we experience fundamentalism, terrorism and terrorist actions, we get the feeling: ‘How can we go on in the face of so many attacks?’  But the majority said: ‘That is our role, to shape the Middle East and gradually bring the different values of Christianity to the predominantly Muslim Arab society.’”

(What were the most interesting ideas and comments you've heard at the Synod?)

"For example, the suggestion of many to hold such a Synod in the Middle East - at a local level. Then there was the desire to do all in our power to put an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, since this conflict is the main reason for most of the multiple crises and wars that have caused Christian emigration.”


(10/13/2010 rv sk)

Link to Vatican Radio article in German: „Orientalisch-heitere Atmosphäre“: Gespräch mit Patriarch Gregorios

Translation from German: V. Chamberlain

Dormition

O Mother of God, in giving birth you preserved virginity; * and in falling asleep you did not forsake the world. * You are the Mother of Life and have been transferred to life, * and through your prayers you deliver our souls from death. (Troparion - Tone 1)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Neither the tomb nor death could detain the Mother of God, * who is unsleeping in her prayers and our unfailing hope in her intercession; * for He Who dwelt in her ever-virgin womb, * transferred to Life the Mother of Life. (Kontakion - Tone 2)