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

Joachim and Anna Rejoice

Today the bonds of childlessness are loosed, * for God has heard Joachim and Anna * and He promises manifestly that they, against all hope, would give birth to the Maiden of God * from whom the Uncircumscribed One Himself would be born, becoming man, * and he commanded the Angels to cry out to her: * “Rejoice, O Full of Grace, the Lord is with you!” (Troparion - Tone 4)

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

Today the whole world celebrates * the conception of Anne which was brought about by God, * for she gave birth to the one who, beyond understanding, * gave birth to the Word. (Kontakion - Tone 4)

Saint Nicholas of Myra

The truth of your deeds has revealed you to your flock, * as a rule of faith, an image of meekness, and a teacher of abstinence. * Therefore, you attained the heights through humility, * and riches through poverty. * O Father and Hierarch Nicholas, * pray to Christ God that our souls may be saved. (Troparion, Tone 4)

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

In Myra, You were shown to be a servant of the sacred things, O Holy Nicholas, * for, fulfilling the Gospel of Christ, you, O Venerable, laid down your life for your people, * and saved the innocent from death. * Therefore, you were sanctified as a great initiate of the grace of God. (Kontakion, Tone 3)