Arab Christians leaving the ME leave as former dhimmis, while the ones flocking to it haven’t a clue as to what they are getting in to. KGS

ME: Arab Christians leaving in droves, while migrant Christians from elsewhere flood the ME for work

ROME, June 21, 2010 – Few have noticed it. But amongst the 10 thousand faithful, that is practically the total number of Catholics in Cyprus, who participated at the mass celebrated by Benedict XVI on June 6th at Nicosia, most of them were not Cypriots, but Asians, Africans, and South Americans.
The Pope himself, in his homily, addressed a particular salute to the immigrants coming from the Philippines and Sri Lanka.
As a matter of fact, together with the Indians they represent half of the 30 thousand immigrants on the island, 60 thousand if you also count the illegal ones.
A good number are Catholics. They crowd the small churches. They baptize their children. They are the new and less known image of the Church’s presence not only in Cyprus, but in some areas of the Holy Land and of the Middle East.
Cyprus which is part of the European Union is one of their much sought after destinations. Once arrived in Turkey, the immigrants get off and move on without any difficulty to the Northern part of the island occupied by the Turks. From there, they easily cross the boundary to the Republic of Cyprus, which is considered a part of the journey towards our European countries.
Extending our perspective to the entire area, it occurs that while the Pope calls a Synod and invokes Christians of the Middle East – descendents of the ancient Churches of the area between the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf – to not abandon their lands because of hostile pressures, like many are doing in the regions where new Catholics are arriving from far away countries.
This immigration flow is so vast, that often the newcomers are more numerous than the local Christians. However, unexpectedly the draft of the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East, held in Rome in October, barely considers this phenomenon, in paragraphs 49 and 50.
Turkey is a case of its own, but still enlightening. Here in the last century the Christian presence has been wiped out. Only the bishops and priests coming from Italy are able to assure the survival of very small Catholic communities. The names of the last martyrs speak for themselves: the priest Andrea Santoro and the bishop Luigi Padovese who was killed just before the Pope’s visit to Cyprus.

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