Intervention of Mons. Robert Joseph SHAHEEN, Bishop of Our Lady of Lebanon of Los Angeles of the Maronites (USA)
It is definitely a sign of the time to gather in this Synod to discuss the Catholic Church in the Middle East: Communion and Witness. In reflecting upon the topic of Emigration as outlined in the Working Document of the Synod, I find that our faithful are divided into groups according to their attachment to their roots: - Many of the people have emigrated to the USA in the late 19th Century through the early 20th Century. We have lost many of those people due to the lack of pastors. - A large group has emigrated due to the instability in the last forty-five years: the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the civil war in Lebanon, the war in Iraq ... - Unfortunately, there is a group who severs all ties with the Middle East. - There is also a group of people who don't have any blood connection to the Middle East but feel attracted to the Eastern liturgies and their beauty. Departing from this reality, I would suggest some ideas and projects for your consideration: - The lobbying effort shall not be restricted to our faithful in the Eastern Churches, but would gather more support and definitely a better impact when the Roman Catholic Church joins forces. - It would be beneficial to work together with the Orthodox and Protestant Churches abroad in finding ways to support our brothers and sisters in the Middle East. - It would be a great initiative to have on a yearly basis a Worldwide Weekend Awareness about the Christians in the Middle East to be conducted in all the Churches. - Many of our people support their relatives. It would be beneficial to create some type of funds to help create jobs and opportunities. I hope this Synod will bear good fruits pleasing to our loving God. We commit ourselves to pray more and work harder for the sake of Christianity in the Middle East.