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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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Catherine of Siena: The value Catherine makes central in her short life and which sounds clearly and consistently through her experience is complete surrender to Christ. What is most impressive about her is that she learns to view her surrender to her Lord as a goal to be reached through time. 
<p>She was the 23rd child of Jacopo and Lapa Benincasa and grew up as an intelligent, cheerful and intensely religious person. Catherine disappointed her mother by cutting off her hair as a protest against being overly encouraged to improve her appearance in order to attract a husband. Her father ordered her to be left in peace, and she was given a room of her own for prayer and meditation. </p><p>She entered the Dominican Third Order at 18 and spent the next three years in seclusion, prayer and austerity. Gradually a group of followers gathered around her—men and women, priests and religious. An active public apostolate grew out of her contemplative life. Her letters, mostly for spiritual instruction and encouragement of her followers, began to take more and more note of public affairs. Opposition and slander resulted from her mixing fearlessly with the world and speaking with the candor and authority of one completely committed to Christ. She was cleared of all charges at the Dominican General Chapter of 1374. </p><p>Her public influence reached great heights because of her evident holiness, her membership in the Dominican Third Order, and the deep impression she made on the pope. She worked tirelessly for the crusade against the Turks and for peace between Florence and the pope </p><p>In 1378, the Great Schism began, splitting the allegiance of Christendom between two, then three, popes and putting even saints on opposing sides. Catherine spent the last two years of her life in Rome, in prayer and pleading on behalf of the cause of Urban VI and the unity of the Church. She offered herself as a victim for the Church in its agony. She died surrounded by her "children" and was canonized in 1461. </p><p>Catherine ranks high among the mystics and spiritual writers of the Church. In 1939, she and Francis of Assisi were declared co-patrons of Italy. Paul VI named her and Teresa of Avila doctors of the Church in 1970. Her spiritual testament is found in <i>The Dialogue</i>.</p> American Catholic Blog The gates of hell cannot withstand the power of heaven. Gates of sin melt in the presence of saving grace; gates of death fall in the presence of eternal life; gates of falsehood collapse in the presence of living truth; gates of violence are flattened in the presence of divine love. These are the tools with which Christ has equipped his Church.


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