The Most Reverend Patrick Kelly, Archbishop of Liverpool, left for Rome on Friday, to take part in a Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops to discuss issues surrounding the Middle East. He has been specially invited because of his long standing work with the Holy Land co-ordination, a body which seeks to accompany the Churches in the Holy Land and which meets in the region every January.
Pope Benedict XVI will open the Synod with a celebration of Mass this Sunday, 10 October, and it will conclude on Sunday 24 October. The theme of the gathering is 'the Catholic Church in the Middle East: Communion and Witness: "Now the company of those who believed were of one heart and soul"' with the quote being taken from the Acts of the Apostles reflecting the unity of the early Church. It was called at the request of Church leaders from the region and follows on from the visit made by Pope Benedict XVI to the Holy Land last year.
Archbishop Kelly, who is a member of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, said: "I am convinced that walking with our Sisters and Brothers, the living stones, the followers of Our Lord in his own land has been a blessing for me and reaching far beyond the Archdiocese of Liverpool. It will be good to meet those to whom we are bound in deepest communion through prayerful, active commitment to the Church in the Holy Land. It will be also be a joy to meet once more with the Bishops from Iran whom I have been privileged to come to know. May we never forget the invitation of the psalm: 'For the Peace of Jerusalem Pray.' Justice, security and peace for all is inextricably tied into the Shalom, the Salaam, the Peace of the City of Peace, Jerusalem."
Two of the main objectives of the Special Assembly for the Middle East will be: to confirm and strengthen the members of the Catholic Church in their Christian identity, through the Word of God and the Sacraments; and to foster ecclesial communion among the Churches, so that they can bear witness to the Christian life in an authentic and joyous manner.
Areas of discussion will include the situation of Christians in the Middle East, the challenges facing them and their response in daily life. The Communion of those Christians with the Catholic Church, ecumenism, and relations with Judaism and with Muslims will be discussed. The Synod will look at the specific and unique contribution of Christians in the region and will conclude by asking the question: 'what does the future hold for Christians in the Middle East?'
The Archbishop will return to Liverpool at the conclusion of the Synod.
Source: Archdioces of Liverpool