VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Witnessing to the Gospel in the Middle East and finding acceptance among the Muslim or Jewish majorities requires Catholics, first of all, to be holy and charitable, said members of the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East.
“We may never convince with words our Muslim or Jewish neighbors that our presence is truly a real blessing for them, but the same antidote which helped the first Christians survive and overcome all challenges is also available to us: a share in God’s generous and holy Spirit and an apostolic love for one another,” said Maronite Bishop Gregory J. Mansour of St. Maron of Brooklyn, N.Y.
The U.S.-based bishop was one of several synod members who spoke Oct. 13 about the obligation of all Christians to give witness to the faith, even when they are a small minority struggling to survive.
Another was Armenian Patriarch Nerses Bedros XIX Tarmouni of Beirut, who said the fact that so many Middle East Christians seem afraid to share their faith and that so many of them are emigrating shows a need for better evangelization and religious education.
Christians in the region today live as a tiny minority just as Christians in the early church did, he said. And like the early Christians, they must not be afraid to stay and witness to the Gospel.
“This does not mean we should not fight to re-establish justice and peace in the Middle East. But it would be wrong to consider that, without this justice and peace, the Christian cannot fully live his faith or should emigrate,” the patriarch said.
“Nobody migrates to look for a better Christian life,” he said.
By their life and their actions, he said, Middle East Christians are called to share “the most convincing message of the love of Jesus.”