Ecclesia in Medio Oriente: Keys to understanding the new papal document
September 14, 2012. (Romereports.com) The Apostolic Exhortation “Ecclesia in Medio Oriente” was signed by Benedict XVI in Lebanon. It’s meant to be a key document for Christians in the region. It addresses issues such as the situation of women, secularism and religious extremism.
The document is divided into three parts.
The first part examines how to live in coexistence while respecting and defending diverse cultures and religions. Benedict XVI goes on to defend respect for the diversity of rites and customs, a richness that comes from the early Christians. At the same time, he promotes dialogue with different faiths, discussing moral issues such as family, sexuality, bioethics and peace.
The pope chooses to tackle the topic of secularism in the document, saying it seeks to exclude all manifestations of religiosity and defends the “healthy secularism” that distinguishes between civil and religious authority, protecting the people from religious fundamentalism.
Benedict also called on the patriarchs of the Eastern Churches to attend the Christian emigrants from Africa, India, and other parts of Asia for their work are in the area.
In the second part, the Pope addresses people and provides recommendations to revitalize faith. He devotes considerable time to the family and makes a strong defense for the rights of women to be treated equally under the law. In this section, he also recommends that young children not to be afraid or ashamed to show that they are Christian. He then asked to be respectful of Jews and Muslims and not be seduced by materialism.
In the third part the Pope refers to the Word of God. He talks about the Middle East as a biblical place of encounters with God for pilgrims. He proposes to make an effort to publicize the Bible in media, celebrate a year of the Bible, and a special week on the Bible. He also request the freedom to go to the holy places. He makes calls to different churches in the Middle East to present an ecumenical effort to recognize the baptism, confession and anointing of the sick and facilitate the attention of Christians who come to the region.
Benedict XVI concludes the document encouraging Christians in the Middle East to be strong given the difficulties and praises the richness of diversity in worship that comes from the first generations of Christians.