Diplomatic Summit for Christians in the Middle East and for Promoting Peace in the Holy Land
The Hungarian Charity Service of the Order of Malta and the Embassy of the Sovereign Order of Malta in Amman organized an ecclesiastical summit at the Charity Service’s headquarters in Budapest – the fraternal meeting was for Christians in the Middle East and for the promulgating peace in the Holy Land. During the meeting heads of the Eastern Churches expressed their gratitude towards Hungary, the Hungarian Charity Service and towards the Sovereign Order of Malta.
The Hungarian Charity Service and the Sovereign Order of Malta have been working in various countries of the Middle East for decades, helping and supporting those living there, and contributing to the stabilization and strengthening of the region through humanitarian and development programs. The Embassy of the Sovereign Order of Malta in Amman considers providing assistance to the Holy Land its primary task: it finances schools, social centers and community centers that serve pastoral life. During the time of the world-wide catholic event of the 52nd International Eucharistic Congress and closely linked to it, the two organizations desired to raise awareness of the victims of human crises in the Holy Land and throughout the broader Middle East, in particular to the situation of persecuted Christians. The joint stance of the summit participants is the symbol of the pursuit of peace in the the Middle East and fraternal coexistence.
Religious and diplomatic leaders and delegates from four Middle Eastern countries – Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan – attended the meeting along with representatives of the Hungarian Catholic Church and members of the Hungarian government. In the church of St. Francis’ Wounds, the message of Cardinal Péter Erdő, Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, was solemnly addressed by Mons. Szabolcs Anzelm Szuromi, then Mons. Imre Kozma, founding president of the Hungarian Charity Service of the Order of Malta, addressed the participants. During the first part of the program Bechara Boutros al-Rahi, head of the Maronite Church, Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako, head of the Chaldean Catholic Church, Youssef Absi, Greek Catholic Melkite Patriarch, William Shomali Bishop of Amman, and Apostolic Nuncio Michael August Blume delivered their prayers and imparted their blessings. The meeting continued in the refectory of the Charity Service’s headquarters, where Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén emphasized in his speech that aid must be taken to the Middle East to prevent Eastern Christianity from disappearing from the Holy Land, from the East and in this way they could remain in their homeland. Those who had to flee from there must be helped so that they can live a complete life here in Hungary and can integrate into our society.
From the testimonies of Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros al-Rahi, Chaldean Patriarch Louis Sako, Greek Catholic Patriarch Youssef Absi and Amman’s Bishop William Shomali, attendees were able to receive a comprehensive picture of the current situation in the Middle East. of the everyday struggles of Christians there and they were able to get a sense of what the Hungarian people’s support means to their Eastern bretheren. It was emphasized in the speeches that the presence and the activities of the Sovereign Order of Malta is not only vital for the actual assistance – hospital construction, mobile health care service, hygiene projects, reconstruction of homes for families who have fled but wish to repatriate – but it is similarly important for the fraternal communion as well.
Linked to the 52nd International Eucharistic Congress and arranged within the framework of the fraternal meeting, the aim of the testimonies were for participants to highlight the significance of Christianity in the Middle East and to promote peace in the Holy Land. The organizers explained: although our meeting might seem as protocol given the composition of the participants, yet through this fraternal gathering it sincerely intends to present the only possible alternative to peaceful coexistence.