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Several of our AmericanCatholic.org editors recently traveled to Middle East. Here you will find their reports and resources from the Catholic Near East Welfare Association, Synod news from Catholic News Service, photos, videos, interviews and coverage from St. Anthony Messenger magazine. The feature will grow in the coming months, in the wake of the Synod for the Middle East.

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Christians in the Middle East

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(CNS/Paul Haring)
Christianity in the Middle East, the Holy Land, once thriving, is diminishing rapidly. The land of Jews, Muslims and Christians is changing, at least due to the Israel/Palestine impasse, along with the growth of Islam. Pope Benedict XVI called a Special Synod on the Middle East not only for the Catholic Church, but also for all Christian Churches to understand the problem of declining Catholics, Christians in the land of Jesus and the Apostles, and how to address it.

Several of our AmericanCatholic.org editors recently traveled to Middle East. Here you will find their reports and resources from the Catholic Near East Welfare Association, Synod news from Catholic News Service, photos, videos, interviews and coverage from St. Anthony Messenger magazine. The feature will grow in the coming months, in the wake of the Synod for the Middle East.

The map below shows the stops on the first of the two-part tour of the Middle East, sponsored by the Catholic Near East Welfare Association. Click on each balloon for a brief summary of the people and places visited at each location.


View ACO in the Middle East in a larger map

Here is the map from Jennifer Scroggins' trip to Lebanon in November 2011


View ACO in Lebanon in a larger map

Click on each blue marker on the map to see the location and description.

On Location Reports

John Feister, AmericanCatholic.org editor, provided daily reports from his 10-day trip to Jordan, Palestine and Israel.




Video Features

We have a wide variety of video reports from the Middle East, including both candid conversations and interviews. Below is a clip from a dinner discussion with Bishop Salim Sayegh on the expectations his people have for the Bishops' Synod on the Middle East.

Click here for our Video Gallery




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Pedro de San José Betancur: Central America claimed its first saint with the canonization of Pedro de San José Betancur by Pope John Paul II in Guatemala City on July 30, 2002. Known as the "St. Francis of the Americas," Pedro de Betancur is the first saint to have worked and died in Guatemala. 
<p>Calling the new saint an “outstanding example” of Christian mercy, the Holy Father noted that St. Pedro practiced mercy “heroically with the lowliest and the most deprived.” Speaking to the estimated 500,000 Guatemalans in attendance, the Holy Father spoke of the social ills that plague the country today and of the need for change. </p><p>“Let us think of the children and young people who are homeless or deprived of an education; of abandoned women with their many needs; of the hordes of social outcasts who live in the cities; of the victims of organized crime, of prostitution or of drugs; of the sick who are neglected and the elderly who live in loneliness,” he said in his homily during the three-hour liturgy. </p><p>Pedro very much wanted to become a priest, but God had other plans for the young man born into a poor family on Tenerife in the Canary Islands. Pedro was a shepherd until age 24, when he began to make his way to Guatemala, hoping to connect with a relative engaged in government service there. By the time he reached Havana, he was out of money. After working there to earn more, he got to Guatemala City the following year. When he arrived he was so destitute that he joined the bread line that the Franciscans had established. </p><p>Soon, Pedro enrolled in the local Jesuit college in hopes of studying for the priesthood. No matter how hard he tried, however, he could not master the material; he withdrew from school. In 1655 he joined the Secular Franciscan Order. Three years later he opened a hospital for the convalescent poor; a shelter for the homeless and a school for the poor soon followed. Not wanting to neglect the rich of Guatemala City, Pedro began walking through their part of town ringing a bell and inviting them to repent. </p><p>Other men came to share in Pedro's work. Out of this group came the Bethlehemite Congregation, which won papal approval after Pedro's death. A Bethlehemite sisters' community, similarly founded after Pedro's death, was inspired by his life of prayer and compassion. </p><p>He is sometimes credited with originating the Christmas Eve <i>posadas</i> procession in which people representing Mary and Joseph seek a night's lodging from their neighbors. The custom soon spread to Mexico and other Central American countries. </p><p>Pedro was canonized in 2002.</p> American Catholic Blog We sometimes try to do everything on our own, forgetting that the Lord wants to help us. Let's never be afraid to admit that we are weak and can't do things on our own. St. Paul gives us a great example: "On my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses" (2 Corinthians 12:5).





 
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