Bishop Thomas Mar Eusibius
I want to thank each of you for coming this evening to this informal gathering designed especially to strengthen us in soul and body for our common Catholic work with our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI. I am, indeed, grateful to my brother, Bishop Gregory, for hosting this informal encounter and giving us the opportunity to see all of you.
Bishops Doueihi, Batakian and Thomas Mar Eusebius thank you for your presence. It is a joy to share with you a common work for Christ’s Church here and in the Middle East.
I thank Archbishop Chullikatt for his good work at the United Nations which has not gone unnoticed.
Likewise, I thank Bishops Murphy, Sansaricq, Cisneros, and Sullivan for their close collaboration with the Churches in the Middle East. The Eastern Catholic Churches need friends like you. A special thank you to Bishop Murphy for all his ecumenical, interfaith and social justice work for the Middle East.
The Church in the Middle East has a special importance for the Church universal as it is the custodian of the birthplace of Christianity. The Church is also called upon, especially in Lebanon, to witness to the conviviality between Islam and Christianity. Lebanon, such a small country in the large Middle East, has been referred to by Blessed John Paul II, as a message of fraternity between Christianity and Islam offered to the whole world.
However, the situation in which we have been living in the Middle East poses many challenges, as the Special Assembly for the Synod of Bishops, under the leadership of His Holiness Pope Benedict, has highlighted. Emigration, in their words, is a huge challenge caused mainly by political instability and economic hardship. The rise in fundamentalism is also another threat that Christians have to face.
Nonetheless, alongside the challenges we are entrusted with the special mission to witness, in communion with each other, to the love of Christ, in that land that He made holy by His incarnation. We hope and pray that the movement that has come to be referred to as the “Arab Spring” brings greater human rights and prosperity to all the peoples of the region, allowing them all to live in an atmosphere of peace and freedom under democratic regimes.
We ask this day the intercession and prayer of the Mother of God, Mary, known to us as Our Lady of Lebanon, to strengthen us especially in Lebanon and throughout the Middle East these days, so that we may witness to her Son, Jesus Christ, and to live His love in the world in which He has placed us.
Thank you for gathering this evening, and may our Blessed Mother strengthen us along with our Holy Father in our Catholic Faith.
(Reprinted with permission.)