Education and Christian witness will promote respect for human rights, religious freedom and just recognition of citizenship for all people, said leaders of the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East. The remarks were made this morning during the opening working session of the 14-day meeting at the Vatican.

“Promotion of the family and the defense of life need to be central in our Church’s teaching and mission programs,” said Coptic Patriarch Antonios Naguib of Alexandria, Egypt, the relator general of the synod. “Education is a privileged part of our activity and a major investment.”

Reading from the “Relatio ante disceptationem” (report before the discussion), Patriarch Naguib explained the current situation of Christians in the Middle East, describing the importance of remembering the history of Christianity.

“Our Churches are called to keep alive the memory of the Church’s beginnings, to strengthen the faith of their members and to renew in them the spirit of the Gospel,” he said. “Through the presentation of the social doctrine of the Church, our communities offer a valuable contribution to building society.”

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