The following is a guest contribution. Reuters is not responsible for the content and the views expressed are the authors’ alone. Abigail Frymann is Online Editor of The Tablet, where this comment first appeared.
By Josie Cox
What’s a journalist supposed to do with a successful author who declares that his next book about Pope Benedict will “go down in history” — but refuses to give any details of what’s in it?
With Christianity dwindling in its Middle Eastern birthplace, Pope Benedict has convened Catholic bishops from the region to debate how to save its minority communities and promote harmony with their Muslim neighbours.
Franciscan Father David Jaeger is one of the Roman Catholic Church’s most authoritative experts on the Middle East. Until a few weeks ago, he was the delegate of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land in Rome. A convert from Judaism who became a Roman Catholic priest in 1986, he is a noted canon lawyer. He was part of the Vatican team that negotiated diplomatic relations with Israel in 1994 and is part of the Vatican team that is still ironing out the final subsidiary details of that accord. He spoke to Reuters and Reuters Television about the upcoming Mideast synod in the atrium of Antonianum University in Rome. Here is a transcript of parts of the conversation.
(Photo: Family and friends mourn a Christian student killed in attack on Iraq’s Christian minority in Mosul, May 11, 2010/Khalid al-Mousuly)
Bassam Hermiz has slashed prices to clear his stock of electrical appliances, close his shop and join many thousands of other Iraqi Christians abroad. Once numbering some 750,000 in this mainly Muslim country of 30 million, Christians have been trapped in the crossfire of sectarian strife ignited after the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein’s secular dictatorship in 2003.
The Vatican kept up its attack on the Nobel committee on Tuesday for giving the medicine prize to in-vitro fertilization pioneer Robert Edwards, saying he had led to a culture where embryos are seen as commodities.
Roman Catholic and Orthodox theologians reported promising progress on Friday in talks on overcoming their Great Schism of 1054 and bringing the two largest denominations in Christianity back to full communion. Experts meeting in Vienna this week agreed the two could eventually become “sister churches” that recognize the Roman pope as their titular head but retain many church structures, liturgy and customs that developed over the past millennium.
The Vatican bank’s top two officials are under investigation for suspected money laundering and police have frozen 23 million euros ($30.21 million) of its funds, Italian judicial sources said on Tuesday.
(Photo: Official papal visit memorabilia at Catholic bookshop in London September 15, 2010/Toby Melville)
Demonstrations are planned for Pope Benedict’s four-day state visit to England and Scotland, with the main focus likely to be on a Protest the Pope campaign march in central London Saturday, Sept 18.