Iraqi bishops seek synod to address exodus of Christians from Mideast

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Iraqi Catholic bishops called on Pope Benedict XVI to convene a synod to address the mass exodus of Christians from the Middle East and the lack of full religious freedom there. They also expressed hope that the new U.S. administration under President Barack Obama would be able to bring peace and security to Iraq before withdrawing U.S.-led troops. The bishops, in Rome for their “ad limina” visits to report on the status of their dioceses, spoke during a Jan. 22 press conference at Vatican Radio. Chaldean Archbishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk said a general synod dedicated to the challenges Christians face in the Middle East would help the church forge a clear plan of action for the present and future. “We can’t do anything by ourselves that would be as well-researched, -prepared and -analyzed” as it would be during a two- or three-week synod, he said. “We have no vision,” he said, so “a general synod would help us — all the bishops — to better see and study (the issues) together with the help of experts and the Holy See.”

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