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Christian Emigration Report: Jordan

23 Jan 2002 “Our discipleship in the Middle East has never been an easy way of life. Yet, it has made us constantly conscious of the preciousness of our faith and its imperatives.”
— Catholicos Karekin II

The Middle East Context
“For its strategic and religious importance, the Middle East has always been at the center of world attention. It is still an important zone for the so-called ‘vital interests’ of the super-powers. Marked by continuous conflicts and growing tensions on the one hand and new hopes and prospects on the other, the present juncture constitutes a decisive landmark in the history of the region. The Christian churches of the region share, in one way or another, all the acuteness of and the repercussions resulting from the problems and tensions of the Middle East.

“The Middle East displays a rich diversity of religions, races, cultures and traditions. Obviously, this unique identity of the Middle East with all its particularities and complexities, tensions and ambiguities continues to have a direct bearing and a permanent effect on the Christian witness.

The centuries of coexistence of religions and cultures in the Middle East have given birth to an uninterrupted dialogue, which is existential in nature and scope, and manifold in ramifications and implications. This dialogical coexistence, which has produced a permanent interaction and interpenetrating in all spheres and at all levels of societal life, has been a source of mutual enrichment for the people of the Middle East. It has also been a major cause of political, religious and military confrontations and crises. However, in this part of the world, dialogue – with all the risks that it entails is both virtually unavoidable and absolutely imperative for an effective Christian witness.

“The life of Christians of the Middle East is one of living and continuous witness to Christ. It is not a testimony in word alone; it is action, a cross-centered action, it is fundamentally a close identification with the poor and needy, with the oppressed and displaced. It is a deep involvement in the struggle for justice, peace and liberation. It is not one of the functions of the church, it is the life of the church. The church herself is a witness, witness is the corporate action of the whole church, it takes place in a given time and in a given place, the act of witnessing is and has always to be responsive and relevant to the concerns, demands and priorities of a given situation.

“Christians of different denominations also played prominent roles in the politics of other emerging Arab countries where they happened to be found: Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Jordan and now Palestine. Being naturally attuned to the ethos of the West, Christian Arabs who happened to be articulate were ideally suited to present the positions of their respective countries – also the Arab national position in general, on whatever issue – on international platforms. And this they have normally been entrusted to do by unanimous Arab consent. Until the present day, Christians remain leading spokespersons for Arab national causes, most notably the Palestinian Arab cause.

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