According to the newly released Religious Freedom in the World Report by Aid to the Church in Need, religious freedom conditions improved in Iraq and Syria and this is hoped to reverse the exodus of Christians from the region as they are returning and seeking to rebuild their lives again.

Part of the reconstruction efforts includes organising the 26th meeting of the Eastern Catholic Patriarchs scheduled from November 26-30, at the patriarchal seat of Baghdad, and dedicated to young people as “a sign of hope in the Middle East”.

Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako who was President delegate during the recent Synod of Bishops of the Catholic Church entitled “Youth, faith and vocational discernment” will host this important summit.

The summit will begin with a Eucharistic concelebration presided over by the Syrian Catholic Patriarch Ignace Youssif III Younan at the Syro-Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, theatre of a massacre committed by a commando of al Qaeda on October 31, 2010, in which about 50 faithful and two priests died.

The program of the meeting also includes, on November 27, a meeting of the Patriarchs with a large group of young Iraqi Christians, to be held in the Chaldean cathedral dedicated to Saint Joseph.

The meeting – which will end with the publication of a final statement on the condition of Christian communities in the Middle East will be attended by Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros Rai, Coptic Catholic Patriarch Ibrahim Isaac Sidrak, Melchite Patriarch Youssef Absi, Armenian Catholic Patriarch Krikor Bedros XX Ghabroyan, Bishop William Shomali (representing the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem) and Professor Souraya Bechealany, Secretary General of the Council of the Churches of the Middle East.

ACN Malta